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Old 2nd September 2005, 14:39   #1
B-17_Fortress
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Default "Railways At War" France 1917, OO9 Layout

I've just found five pictures of a layout dad and I built back in 1981. It was a narrow gauge railway built in OO9 ( scale 'OO' with 9mm track ).

During World War 1, the front line moved very little over the years of the war. In France, a system of narrow gauge lines were built from the nearby towns to within 100 yards or so of the front line, to transport soldiers, ammunition and supplies, and return wounded for treatment in the hospitals. The last 100 yards to the trenches was often using small mining trucks on wooden rails drawn by horses.

A large amount of research was done for this layout, probably more than any other we had built. This resulted in some repainting of rolling stock and some loco's and other stock being scratch built.

Steve
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Old 2nd September 2005, 14:42   #2
Howqua
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Default Re: "Railways At War" France 1917, OO9 Layout

Steve,I would like to see those photo's.
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Old 2nd September 2005, 14:48   #3
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Default Re: "Railways At War" France 1917, OO9 Layout

The layout was built in three 4ft x 18in sections with a simple loop of track and a couple of sidings. At the far right of the layout was a bombed out town. Some of the buildings were from a toy D-Day assault set. They were repainted, modified and added to a backdrop, which also had the buildings painted in false perspective to give depth to the town scape.

Airfix had a range of WW1 troops at 1:72 scale and several boxes were used to populate the town and other areas of the layout. These included horse drawn gun carriages etc.

Sorry for some of the pics being a bit fuzzy, but the camera that we had back then didn't do close up pictures too well.



Steve
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Old 2nd September 2005, 15:05   #4
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Default Re: "Railways At War" France 1917, OO9 Layout

Thanks Steve.
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Old 2nd September 2005, 15:08   #5
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Default Re: "Railways At War" France 1917, OO9 Layout

The first 4 feet focused on the town, with the railway passing a station by the hospital before vanishing into an armaments warehouse!! ( Actually into the hidden yard around the back ).

The next 4ft section followed the railway through the French counrtyside, past a Royal Flying Corps airfield. A simple canvas hangar, a few tents and a flight of Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a fighters taking off on a dawn patrol completed the scene. While the runways were often just grass fields, we discovered that ash was often scattered to form a runway to reduce the quantity of French mud.

The SE5's were Airfix models, and had one or two small modifications such as a clear disc to represent to rotating propeller and streamers on the wing struts of the flight leaders aircraft. Once again, research led to some very interesting stories.

There was a pilot who tried to replace the ammunition drum on the top wing of his aircraft. As he stood in the cockpit fighting and praying that the sticking drum would release, the aircraft rolled onto its back and started to loose height. He was left hanging on the drum, praying that it wouldn't release. After loosing several thousand feet, he managed to get his feet back into the cockpit and haul himself back inside!!!!!! Remembering that there were no parachutes for WW1 pilots, he had great incentive to hang on.

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Old 2nd September 2005, 15:20   #6
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Default Re: "Railways At War" France 1917, OO9 Layout

From the end of the airfield, the ground fell away to the lower, flatter fields closer to the front line. In the foreground of the next picture is a section of track with a large crater in the middle. A small re-route was needed here to maintain the flow of ammunition.

Soldiers on the nearby road watch further re-inforcements and field guns move steadily to the front.

An L.R.O.D. ( Light Railway Operating Division ) 0-4-0 loco hauls away a crashed and recovered Sopwith Pup Scout plane for repair.

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Old 2nd September 2005, 15:39   #7
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Default Re: "Railways At War" France 1917, OO9 Layout

The next photo is the rail head, just 100 yards from the front line. The risks from shelling are high. The track loops around, arriving at a small station where unloading of ammunition takes place, and wounded are loaded aboard the returning train. From here on, your gas mask and tin hat are essential. If someone shouts "Gas! Gas! Gas!" don't stop to ask why, or you'll end up dead.

The remains of a once beauitful countryside cottage stands as the only thing above head height for the next few miles. The only other things to be seen are the bodies of both men and horses, one or two shattered stumps of trees, and mud; endless freezing cold mud.

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Old 2nd September 2005, 15:49   #8
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Default Re: "Railways At War" France 1917, OO9 Layout

Just past the railhead, a small wooden railway takes the ammunition into the trenches. At its end, in the centre of the picture, a small first aid post tries to give comfort to the wounded and dying until it is their turn to be taken back to the town.

A dogfight twists and turns in the clear spring air, while a tank slowly makes its way through the mud towards the barbed wire in no-mans land. A railway sleeper has been chained to the tracks to help to through the mud that has made lives hell for the past three years.



We still have this layout, and I hope it will be brought out, restored and shown again. All the paper backscene needs replacing, and new electronics and LED's to replace the grain of wheat bulbs that represented the gun flashes of the field guns by the trenches. Hopefully dad will take some pictures of some of the stock and accessories so that I can add to this post, but for now, I'll leave you in the trenches, I have a pass to go home!

Steve
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Old 2nd September 2005, 16:14   #9
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Default Re: "Railways At War" France 1917, OO9 Layout

Thanks for the extra shots and info Steve.
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Old 2nd September 2005, 22:45   #10
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Default Re: "Railways At War" France 1917, OO9 Layout

Very unique!
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