United States Army Transportation Corps  2-8-0  MOS (WD) Austerity S160



Power Classification
Introduced 1942 – 1946
Designer Major J W Marsh
Company Ministry of Supply
Weight – Loco 72t 10cwt
               Tender 52t 2cwt
Driving Wheels 4ft 9ins
Boiler Pressure 225psi superheated
Cylinders Outside – 19in x 26in
Tractive Effort 31,490lbf
Valve Gear Walschaert (piston valves)

During the 1930s, the United States Army Transportation Corps approved update of a Baldwin Locomotive Works First World War design in contingency for war transportation, to create the S159 Class. During the period of the Second World War when America was neutral, the government of Franklin D. Roosevelt approved the Lend-Lease supply to the United Kingdom of the S200 Class 2-8-2, designed specifically to fit into the restricted British loading gauge. The S200 locomotives were introduced in 1941 and were used in the Middle East during the Second World War.

Although the class has been popularly adopted as the S160 class the identification for this design it cannot be verified as an official designation despite considerable research. The S160 designation is not found in 1942 and 1943 Baldwin drawing indexes, the Lima drawing index for the class, nor in meeting minutes in which representatives of the War Department and the three builders made several design decisions prior to production. It is also not found in any of approximately 900 engineering drawings which are still in existence. It is possible that the S160 be a simple S for steam or Standard and the 160 for the first three digits of the initial running number.

With America’s entry to World War Two, the USATC needed a developed design from which to create a volume of locomotive power for the wrecked railways of Europe, which they could use to deploy military hardware and civilian goods. Hence the design created by Maj. J. W. Marsh from the Railway Branch of the Corps of Engineers learnt from both previous locomotives.

The S160’s were designed for quick and efficient building, not long term operations, thus compromises in design led to some difficulties in operations. The axle box grease lubricators were not very efficient, particularly when maintenance procedures lapsed or were delayed for operational war reasons, and so axle boxes often ran hot. Braking was poor for European standards, with a Westinghouse steam brake used for the locomotive, which was woefully insufficient due to the long distance from the driver’s valve to the brake cylinder.

A major fault of the S160 was use of a single water gauge of a design unfamiliar to the U.K. crews. If the valves were not fully open the crews could be mislead into thinking that the water level was adequate, even though it was becoming dangerously low. When a low water condition allowed the crown sheet to overheat, the stay bolts holding the crown sheet would fail with little warning, resulting in a boiler explosion. In a space of ten months, three UK S160s suffered a collapse of the firebox crown, with the first leading to the death of a GWR fireman on locomotive 2403 in November 1943.

With cast frames and cast wheels, the front two driving axles were sprung independently from the rear two driving axles to allow for running on poor quality track. The larger tender layout was derived from the similar design for the WD Austerity 2-8-0, with the coal bunker inset above the water tank to improve visibility when running backwards.

Although the S160 locomotives are designated as having a 2-8-0 wheel arrangement they were specially balanced so that the front two sets of driving wheels are sprung independently from the rear two giving effectively a 2-4-4-0 arrangement.

The tender was large enough to carry 8 tons of coal and 5,500 gallons of water.

 usa.jpg United States Army Transportation Corps
 90750 8F Austerity introduced by Riddles in 1943

Of the 2120 class S160 locomotives built 800 were despatched to Great Britain.

These 800 locomotives were constructed in 1942/3 in thirteen batches, split between American Locomotive Co., Baldwin and Lima Locomotive Works.

Although intended for use after the invasion, the first 400 were put to immediate use by the British War Department working with the “Big Four” railway companies.

The minutes of an LMS CME Meeting held at Derby 5th April 1943 identified the railway company responsible for dealing with each of the British ports.

  • LNER
    • London (north of the river)
    • East coast ports
    • Glasgow (north of the river)
    • Manchester
  • LMS
    • Liverpool
    • Birkenhead (GWR to assist if necessary)
  • GWR
    • South Wales
    • London (south of the river)

The first S160 locomotive arrived in Britain in November 1942

The first 43 locomotives were transferred to the LNER works at Doncaster for completion, and later running in which resulted in them hauling local trains on the East Coast Main Line.

Initially the early S160s were concentrated in the South Wales area, so they were quickly transferred to the Great Western Railway (GWR) in early 1943.

The four British railway companies eventually deployed a total of 400 S160’s under the guise of “running in,” but factually replacing damaged stock and increasing the capacity of the British railway system to allow for shipping of military pre-invasion equipment and troops. The eventual deployment of S160’s were:

  • 174 to the Great Western Railway
  • 168 to the London and North Eastern Railway

Allocated to –

  • 25 to Woodford for the Great Central section. Other than running-in duties from Doncaster, no S160s were allocated to the Great Northern section.
  • 50 to March
  • 21 to Stratford
  • 25 to Heaton
  • 25 Neville Hill. These travelled as far as Edinburgh and Hitchin
  • 22 to St Margarets at Edinburgh
  • 50 to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway
  • 6 to the Southern Railway

In addition to the allocations identified above four locomotives were deployed by the British military.

25 S160s were allocated to Woodford. The Great Eastern section had 71 S160s, with 50 allocated to March, and 21 to Stratford. The North Eastern section had 50 S160s, with 25 allocated to each of Heaton and Neville Hill. The Neville Hill S160s tended to wander over a wide area and were sighted as far afield as Edinburgh and Hitchin. The remaining 22 LNER S160s were allocated to St. Margaret’s in the Scottish section.

The Southern Railway experienced an increased levels of traffic during the war which caused them to request the of 20 (N15 King Arthur class) 4-6-0s locomotives on loan to GWR and 10 on loan to the LNER. It was agreed that the loaned locomotives would be returned to the Southern Railway once the number of USATC 2-8-0s in traffic reached 200.

The second batch of 400 S160’s were prepared for storage by USATC personnel at locations in Wales in the immediate run-up to D-Day. After the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the locomotives deployed across Britain again began to be collected and be refurbished at Ebbw Junction in preparation for shipment to Europe.

After the Invasion of France on 6th June 1944 (D Day), the locomotives stored in South Wales were prepared and shipped out to France. Then, the locomotives on loan to the “Big Four” were returned to the USATC and shipped out to France. The bulk of the those used in Britain were returned to the USATC between August and September 1944.

A number of locomotives were lost at sea when the convey they were sailing in was attacked by German U Boats. Six locomotives were lost when the ships (SS Pacific Grove and the Robert Gray) transporting them were sunk. The Pacific Grove was sunk on 12th April 1943 by torpedoes when the ship was southeast of Cape Farewell, Greenland and the Robert Gray by torpedoes on the 19th April 1943 whilst in the middle of the North Atlantic south of Greenland.

The British locomotives, together with those shipped direct from America were also similarly deployed first with troops reclaiming Europe, and then subsumed throughout European national railways as replacements for their destroyed stock after the war: All of the British locomotives were shipped overseas during the Second World War and none returned to operate in Britain after the war.

Overseas Deployment

At the same time as S160s were being deployed into Britain, when General Patton led American troops in Operation Torch into the North African Campaign, their Transport Corps brought with them S160s. These locomotives moved across the north of the continent as Patton’s troops waged war, and when the troops moved to Italy the majority of their S160s moved with them. These locomotives, supplemented with those directly imported from America, were eventually to create a group of 243 locomotives, subsumed by the Italian State Railway’s to become the FS Class 736 class.

Locomotives of the S160 class were utilised in many countries during and after the Second World War. European countries included Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Soviet Union, Spain, Turkey and Yugoslavia. In Africa they were deployed in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

After World War Two, the reconstruction of the world required transportation. The S160s were deployed to Asia under the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, to China and South Korea.

60 locomotives were sent to India in kit form for local assembly as 5 ft 6 in broad gauge engines. They were split between the East Indian Railway and the South Indian Railway.

Some locomotives shipped from the USA to Vladivstok in Russia and were moved to Siberia after the Second World War and later to North Korea during the Korean War. Ironically, the S160’s were used by both North and South Korean forces during this conflict.

Some locomotives were deployed in the USA. A small number found their way to Mexico and Peru.

Accidents and Incidents

Wartime accidents and incidents are not included.

  • In November 1943 the fireman on locomotive 2403 was killed when the engine suffered a collapsed firebox crown due to a general problem with the engines. The roof stay bolts on the firebox when heated tended to fail due to metal fatigue. If there was low water above the crown of the firebox. Poor boiler wash-outs would result in a build up of scale in the crown. This all contributed to a weakening of the firebox crown, and eventual collapse. In a space of ten months, three UK S160s suffered a collapse of the firebox crown. The locomotive was rebuilt using the boiler and cab fom 1688 which had suffered a broken frame.
  • On the 12th January 1944 locomotive 2363 was hauling a goods train from Ipswich to Whitemoor when it exploded at Thurston. The driver sustained a broken leg as a result of the firebox door being blown off its hinges. The fireman was blown off the footplate and suffered burns and bruises.
  • On the 30th August 1944 locomotive 1707 was hauling a goods train from Neasden to Woodford when it suffered an expolsion whils in South Harrow tunnel.This accident was not investigated fully due to the fact that the S160s were being handed back to the US Army. 1707 was officially removed from the LNER stock lists in February 1945 but was rebuilt and finally arrived in Europe after May 1945 and the end of European hostilities.


Mainly due to their numbers, rather than the design or build quality, at least 26 examples of the S160 have survived into preservation, making them one of the most numerous survivors of all Mainline Steam Locomotives. Eight locomotives have been transported to Britain for preservation but two of these are used as a source of spare parts only.

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