Rapido Trains reveals new OO S160 range

07 June 2024
Rapido has revealed a new OO gauge USATC S160 2-8-0 – with 10 different versions available.

In 1942, when the world was at war, the UK railways were struggling to cope and our American Allies reinforced the UK with a multitude of supplies, including a fleet of one of the most iconic locos to run on Britain’s Railways, the S160.

The new range from Rapido will cover a large number of tooling variants that cover the Big 4 regions, LMR, and preserved examples.

General specification

  • Two factory-fitted speakers, one in the loco and another in the tender.
  • Dual LED firebox glow with dynamic fire draw effect.
  • Twin flywheel motor.
  • Detachable loco-to-tender connection.
  • Pickups fitted on both the loco and tender.
  • 21-pin DCC Decoder socket fitted.

Variations between models include left- and right-hand drive, lamps, smokebox doors, pipework, air pumps and tenders to name just a few.

Versions available                                                                              

  • No.1604 (GWR), black with U.S.A. on tender. (SKU 926001)
  • No.2415 (LMS), dark grey with U.S.A on tender (SKU 926002)
  • No.1712 (LNER), light grey with U.S.A on tender (SKU 926003)
  • No. 2356 (SR), light grey with Transportation Corps U.S.A. on tender (SKU 926004)
  • No. 700 Major General Carl R Gray Jr, Longmoor Military Railway blue (SKU 926005)
  • No. 5820 Big Jim, light grey with Transportation Corps U.S.A. on tender (as preserved) (SKU 926006)
  • No. 6046, black with U.S.A on tender (as preserved) (SKU 926007)
  • No. 2253, Omaha, maroon with Transportation Corps U.S.A. on tender (as preserved) (SKU 926008)
  • No. 95820 Big Jim, black with early BR emblem (as preserved) (SKU 926009)
  • No.5197, black with U.S.A on tender (as preserved) (SKU 926010)

Priced at £269.95 DCC-Ready and £379.95 DCC-Sound Fitted, the new models are now at tooling stage and are expected to arrive in the autumn.

About the prototype

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The year is 1942, the world is at war and the United Kingdom has limited resources to combat the enemy, let alone launch an invasion of the European mainland. What is available is becoming stretched far too thinly, including the nation's railways. Due to years of consistent bombing, the railways were struggling to cope with the increased traffic and locomotives and rolling stock were in short supply. Thankfully our American Allies stepped up, aiding us in our hour of need.

Despite having joined the fray themselves in late 1941, and needing resources to pursue their own goals, they managed to reinforce the UK with a multitude of supplies, including a fleet of one of the most iconic locos to run on Britain’s Railways, the S160, a spectacular 2-8-0 powerhouse!

Designed by Major J. W. Marsh from the Railway Branch of the Corps of Engineers, this all-American loco had to fit the more restrictive loading gauge of the UK. They had to be easy to build, quick to repair and reliable. Taking inspiration from its predecessor the S200, and the British WD Austerity 2-8-0, the S160 lacked the finesse of many of the British locomotives it would work alongside, but other than a few teething problems and operational challenges it met its brief perfectly.

Constructed in the United States in multiple batches from 1942 to 1945, they were split between the ALCO, Baldwin, and Lima Locomotive Works. Collectively, almost 800 locomotives were shipped to the UK. Landing mainly in Newport, South Wales, as well as Birkenhead, Glasgow and London, the locomotives passed through major workshops before being sent on to the respective railway company. The first 396 were assigned to the 4 railway regions of the era and under the guise of them being run in, 174 were issued to the Great Western Railway, 168 to the London & North Eastern Railway, 50 to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and a much more modest 6 to the Southern Railway. The final 400 UK-issued locos were also stored in South Wales, where they were kept as part of the D-Day preparations. With the invasion on the horizon, June 1944 saw the stored engines sent for servicing and processing, all leaving by early September 1944.

Between 1942 and 1945 a whopping 2120 S160s were built by our American friends, these remaining locomotives along with those stored and gathered locos in the UK, were shipped to mainland Europe and further afield to facilitate wartime supply trains, aiding our European neighbours who had also had their railways ravaged by 6 years of conflict, and ensuring the Allied war effort prevailed.

Until the days of preservation, the only S160 retained in the UK post-war was WD 93257 (later No.700) Major General Carl R Gray Jr, used to train military personnel in driving and caring for steam locos at the Longmoor Military Railway.

Following WW2 the S160s were scattered across the globe, from China to Hungary. Whilst in the ownership of a plethora of different railways they were often refitted to accommodate their owners' needs. As time went on the original shape and details of many of the locos would evolve, which was in part, due to the interchangeable nature of their original design. Eight locos have been repatriated to the UK in preservation and all of them are different from their counterparts, some more subtly than others.

Despite all having key visual differences, several of the preserved versions have been returned to running order, with no less than three examples currently in operation with a number of others under restoration.

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