Fred Klein, 2003, 2016
The railroads and the Pullman Company met the high demands for troop movements during World War II by pressing every sleeping car possible into service. Troop trains used the variety of coaches and Pullman cars that were available. Soldiers in standard Pullman section or tourist berths usually slept two in a lower berth and one in the upper. They were luckier than the soldiers in coaches and in the bunks in troop sleepers. Pullman constructed the first troop sleeper cars in late 1943 to help ease the burden on the standard Pullman fleet. See Model Railroader, Dec. 2001, page 88. Baggage cars were converted into temporary kitchen cars before ACF could complete its order for troop kitchen cars. One or two kitchen cars were surrounded by troop cars in the consist because the troops were served in their seats or bunks.
Pullman troop sleepers. Photo from the Pullman library.
The train pictured here is patterned after the consist of a December 1943 Southern Railroad troop train (Robert J. Wayner, Passenger Train Consists 1923-1973, Wayner Publications, page 33). I made my cars correspond as best I could to the car types in the published consist. Troop trains followed no fixed consist: railroads assembled whatever types of sleepers they could get to accommodate the troop movement. During the war, most sleeping cars were heavyweight cars and still owned by the Pullman Company. Cars were mostly Pullman green with “Pullman” on the letterboards, but other colors could be mixed in the train. I used all the Pullman cars I had and made a Santa Fe train. For troop trains before late 1943, use conventional 85’ Pullman cars instead of the troop sleeper cars.
N scale has a common type of Pullman sleeper available: the 12-section /1-drawing room car that was one of the most common types in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This car is made in plastic by Rivarossi and Microtrains. Most cars in this train are Rivarossi heavyweights, except for the Microtrains troop sleeper cars.
Troop train, first portion.
The train was pulled by a Mikado 2-8-2. The speed of a normally freight locomotive like a Mikado was adequate for troop trains. I used a Kato Mikado with a few detail parts added like number boards and an oil top on the tender. Next is a baggage car for supplies for the soldiers. The following cars are 3 Pullmans. I use a Model Power coach car that I decaled as Pullman “Isaac Newton”. It could simulate a 16-section tourist sleeper with all sections and no rooms. The two-tone gray sleeper (12 sections, 1 drawing room) was borrowed from Santa Fe’s Scout train.
Troop train, second portion.
The next car is a steel Santa Fe baggage car converted to a kitchen car. After that is a Santa Fe coach. The troops slept in their seats or makeshift bunks, and were not very comfortable. You can bet that no officers were in this car! Next is a full size 12 section, 1 drawing room Pullman. These three cars are made by Rivarossi. The newest cars in the train are the three troop sleepers. These cars had bunks stacked 3-high and slept 30 troops plus the Pullman porter. The models are from Microtrains.
Troop train, third portion.
The next car is a Pennsylvania baggage car converted to a kitchen car. Another troop sleeper follows. Next are two more Pullman cars, including one in old style lettering more typical of a wood Pullman car. The last car is a Santa Fe café-lounge car. This type of car is more deluxe than required by a troop train, which should have as much sleeping space as possible. A car like this café-lounge may indicate that a general and his staff are on the train, and use the observation section for meetings and the lounge area for staff work.
Model Railroader magazine, Kalmbach publications, Dec. 2001 (page 88) and Feb. 2002 (page 80).
DeNevi, Don, America’s Fighting Railroads, A World War II pictorial history, Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1996.
Wayner, Robert J., Passenger Train Consists 1923-1973, Wayner Publications.