Experience in World Wars I and II showed that foreign railway
systems were incapable of sustaining combat operations because the
capacity and the amount of foreign rail equipment were not enough for
The U.S. Army realized it had to be prepared to
produce its own motive power and rolling stock should it again engage
an enemy on foreign soil.
Soon after World War II, the Army began to develop a railway
fleet suitable for use in any future theater of operations.
objective for railway cars was a modified American car design capable
of operating in any foreign country in a train with local equipment.
Starting with a basic flatcar that could be converted to a gondola or
boxcar by addition of the proper superstructure, these cars were to
be designed to work with the coupling and braking systems on
equipment used on principal railroads of foreign countries, and to be
capable of operating on railroads of various gages. Keeping in mind
these requirements, American designers developed a basic flatcar.
In addition to the domestic service equipment, the Army
inventory contains a knockdown fleet of 40-ton equipment designed and
built primarily for emergency oversea service.
Another one for use
on narrow-gage track in foreign theaters was proposed but not
procured; it was to consist of 76-ton diesel-electric locomotives,
30-ton gondolas, 30-ton flatcars, and 55-ton depressed center cars.
The 40-ton fleet consists of more than 11,000 items of motive power
Paragraphs 2.5 through 2.10 discuss generally the
construction and major components of the cars in the foreign service
fleet and the basic procedure of assembling knockdown cars.
remainder of the section and accompanying figures describe cars of
the fleet that can be assembled or partially assembled in a theater,
and explain their assembly and conversion.
Because of the expected shorter life of emergency equipment
used in a theater of operations as compared with standard equipment,
the fleet is constructed as simply and economically as military
Designers of the equipment found that physical
characteristics of foreign railroads would limit capacity and
For example, track and bridge load limits would
determine the equipment's axleload while clearances would affect its