Although the Bachmann WD Austerity 2-8-0 model is one of the older models in the range, the latest releases, particularly No. WD 79250, will be popular with modellers. Nigel Burkin takes a close look at this highly regarded model of a wartime heavy-freight engine.
A very large number of 2-8-0 heavy-freight locomotives based on the LMS Class 8F design were constructed for the War Department (WD) in time for the invasion of Europe. Designed by R A Riddles, the design became the WD standard heavy-freight locomotive and had economy rather than longevity behind the concept.
In total, 935 locomotives were built between 1943 and 1945 by the North British Locomotive Company and Vulcan foundry. The WD Austerity 2-8-0 locomotive, like the Class 8F, was built for heavy-freight traffic. Small driving wheels over four axles placed a lot of traction on the rails, making them suitable for lifting heavy-freight trains at relatively low speeds, making the design ideal for use in Europe in the latter stages of the Second World War.
They were designed to be cheap, austere locomotives with few frills – the boiler was a parallel design with no insulation lagging; the firebox was constructed primarily of steel rather than copper and was round-topped rather than of a Belpaire design. Consequently, there were problems with this cut-price design, highlighted by the Big Four railway companies, particularly the LNER, which used them on loan from the WD until the Normandy landings, when most of them were shipped to Europe between June 1944 and February 1945.
Once the war was over, the locomotives were repatriated to the UK, except 184, which remained in the Netherlands. The WD either sold or loaned repatriated locomotives to the LNER (becoming Class O7) and the British Transport Commission. They survived to see BR ownership, being numbered 90000-90732.
WD Austerity 2-8-0 locomotives were withdrawn between 1959 and 1967 with only one locomotive being preserved: No. WD 79257, which was one of the locomotives left in Europe after the war and survived to see service in Sweden. Sadly, none of the LNER Class O7 type survived to see preservation.
Of the locomotives returned to the UK after the war, only two remained in WD ownership: No. WD 77337 and the featured model, No. WD 79250. Named Major-General McMullen, the locomotive was used on the famous Longmoor Military Railway (LMR) in Hampshire and was repainted in an attractive livery of dark blue with red lining. Sadly, this locomotive was scrapped in 1957.
For more information on the LNER Class O7 locomotives, it is worth visiting the LNER Encyclopaedia at https://www.lner.info/locos/O/o7.php
For the full article, see February’s edition of Modelling – available now!
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