US Army 75-ton Drop Cab

U.S. Army Railroad Equipment, 1947
By mid-August of 1944, Allied Armies were ready to undertake the arduous and grueling task of pushing Nazi forces out of France, Belgium and back into Germany. Logistically, the U.S. Army Transportation Corps would be charged with rebuilding the French Railway system and keeping the advancing allied war machine supplied. Cherbourg and the Port of Marseilles in southern France and rail lines extending to the northeast were destined to be a major conduit of supplies and war materiel. In support of that mission, the USATC purchased ten 75-ton drop-cab locomotives and ten 45-ton drop-cabs from General Electric and shipped them to France. It should be noted that the 75T employs the same machinery as an 80-tonner (see graphic above). First of the GEs arrived in early September. The newcomers were immediately placed in service and maintained a rigorous schedule for the remaining nine months of the war. VE-Day arrived in May 1945, and the Military Railway Service (USATC) had been successful in delivering forty percent of military supplies and equipment the 750 miles across southern France and into Berlin. After the war, most of the 45-ton dropcabs were shipped to state-side military units and / or sold as surplus.

In contrast, the 75-tonners stayed long after the end of WWII to help with the rebuilding of the entire French rail network; they were eventually transferred to French ownership. The few GE 75s that survive today reside in museums or are privately owned. It should be noted that D4032 and D4036 locos were rebuilt and their Cummins LI600 engines were replaced with Baudoin engines. French railway historian Alexandre Gerbier has provided background info and photos of the surviving 75-ton drop-cabs.

(Interestingly, there is photographic evidence of ten GE 75-ton drop cabs arriving at Cherbourg in 1944. USATC records reflect only nine. (?)

Photo Gallery

A U.S. Army 45-ton Dropcab is loaded aboard a British railroad ferry which is headed for the port at Cherbourg at the end of July 1944.

U.S. Arny photo

Serial ID: 27528
  • USATC: 7228
  • French ID: D-4028
  • Is preserved at the Sabers ecomuseum in the Landes department.
  • Future plans: Theoretically to be restored to aesthetic condition next year if budgets allow (not official).

Photo by Alexandre Gerbier

Serial ID: 27529
  • USATC: 7229
  • French ID: D-4029
  • Is in poor condition at the former depot of the departmental railways of Saint Symphorien in the department of Gironde.

Photo by Alexandre Gerbier on 30 March 20223

Serial ID: 27531
  • USATC: 7231
  • French ID: D-4031
  • CFTA #D4031 (ex-US Army #7231) was scrapped during the 1980s.

G. Germain photo / color correction by A.T. Gerbier

Serial ID: 27532
  • USATC: 7232
  • French ID: D-4032
  • Is preserved by the Rhine Tourist Railway in Volgelsheim in the Haut-Rhin department.
  • Future plans: To be refurbished to an end-of-service version.

Builder plate from US Army 7233

Serial ID: 27533
  • USATC: 7233
  • French ID: D-4033
  • Is preserved by the Tourist Railway from Gui on Facebooktres to Marcenais in the department of Gironde.
  • Future plans: Major overhaul and repainting in the original colors of the Gironde departmental railway in the months to come (dark green color with yellow stripes and red buffer crosspieces and white ID markings and yellow)

Photographer unknown /restored by AT.Gerbier

Serial ID: 27536
  • USATC: 7236
  • French ID: D-4036
  • Is preserved by the Chemin de Fer Touristique du Rhin in Volgelsheim in the department of Haut-Rhin after a passage in Wassy.
  • Future plans: To be refurbished to an end-of-service version.

Photo by Sebastian Kieffert c.2018

Serial ID: 27537
  • USATC: 7237
  • French ID: D-4037
  • CFTA #D4037 (ex-US Army #7237) now scrapped was not reflected in the USATC Directory of Railway Equipment. Only nine drop cab locomotives were shown in 1947 -- USATC #7228-7236.

Photographer unknown / restoration by A.T. Gerbier

Locomotive Detail of D-4028 & 4029 (ex-USA 7228 & 7229) -- photos by A.T. Gerbier

Builder plate photo (D-4028)

Cummins LI600 engine access cover (D-4029)

Traction motor photo (D-4028)

Traction cog wheel (D-4029)

Controls photo (D-4028)

Electrical cabinet (D-4029)

This photo essay would not be possible without the direct help of Alexandre T. Gerbier !

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