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.

Kodak #6 is a standard 80-tonner and provides a visual distinction to the GE 75-ton units that served in France during WWII. (R. Craig photo)

France's #D-4028 (ex-US Army #7228) is preserved at the Sabers ecomuseum in the Landes department; theoretically loco is to be cosmetically restored (A.T. Gerbier photo)

#4029 at Lacanau -- Gilles Germain 1976 photo (Alexandre Gerbier restored)

#4029 at Saint Symphorien on 30 March 2023 -- photo by Alexandre Gerbier

CFTA #D-4031 (ex-US Army #7231) was scrapped during the 1980s. (Gilles Germain photo, with color correction by A.T. Gerbier)

CFTA #D-4033 (ex-US Army #7233) is preserved by the Tourist Railway from Guitres to Marcenais. Major overhaul and return to original colors planned.( Gilles Germain photo, with color correction by A.T. Gerbier)

A 1999 photo at Gray, France shows CFTA #D-4036 (ex-US Army #7236) and D-4032 (ex-USA #7232) returning from the Channel Tunnel construction site; they were equipped with roof-top mounted smoke filters. (Photographer unknown /restored by AT.Gerbier)

Thirty years later, the #D-4036 is preserved by the Chemin de Fer Touristique du Rhin in Volgelsheim, and the plans are to restore the CFTA locomotive to an end-of-service version. (Photogtaph by Sebastian Kieffert in 2018)

CFTA #D4037 (ex-US Army #7237) now scrapped was not reflected in the USATC Directory of Railway Equipmentl; only nine drop-cab locomotives were shown in 1947 -- USATC #7228-7236. (G. Bonnet photo @ Bordeaux Jean Station in 1983 /restored by AT.Gerbier)

This photo essay would not be possible without the direct help of:

Alexandre T. Gerbier !

Supplemental photos by A.T. Gerbier

Builder plate photo Ex-U.S. Army #7228 (CFTA #D-4028)

Builder plate photo Ex-U.S. Army #7232 (CFTA #D-4032)

Controls photo (D-4028)

Electrical cabinet (D-4029)

Cummins LI600 engine access cover (D-4029)

Traction motor photo (D-4028)

Scale Modeller Drawings by Bruno Lienard (A.T. Gerbier collection)

Side Elevation (D-4028)

Front View (D-4028)

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