War Department D Class open and covered wagons are the first models to be released by Bachmann as part of its new OO9 narrow gauge range, reviewed by Nigel Burkin.
Bachmann’s entry into OO9 gauge modelling was announced in 2014 with Baldwin Class 10-12-D
4-6-0T and D Class wagons used by the War Department (WD) on the extensive French 600mm gauge light military railways of the First World War. The D Class bogie open and covered goods wagons are the first to be released and are expected to arrive in the shops in the next few weeks with the Baldwin locomotives arriving in early spring.
Narrow gauge railways were used extensively in France and Belgium during the First World War by Allied forces to transport materials and troops to supply positions just behind the front lines. Narrow gauge railways are very flexible because they can be built where standard gauge lines would be impractical; they may be constructed and changed very quickly and laid as ‘light’ railways over uneven ground or over roads and tracks to meet the sometimes fast-changing conditions in trench warfare. Narrow gauge equipment can traverse sharp curves which makes light railways flexible and able to access locations not possible by other means. Yet they are easily removed and relocated to meet the demands of warfare.
The trench railways were built from supply positions such as standard gauge railheads and canals to war materiel stocking positions located behind the front lines – it is usually these extreme ends of the network that were the least permanent and most liable to change and relocation. Conditions at the end of these essential supply lines were often poor with muddy and unstable conditions – derailments were common.
The role that narrow gauge railways played during the First World War cannot be underestimated in keeping supplies of rations, fodder, timber and munitions flowing to the front, while evacuating the wounded to field hospitals in the opposite direction. After the war, some of the more permanently engineered 600mm gauge network was retained and used for reconstruction and agricultural traffic, offering further layout themes for the modeller to explore. The history of the 600mm gauge network is complex and worthy of further research for those interested in modelling the First World War trench railways and their use in peacetime.
For the full article, see January’s edition of Modelling – available now!
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