MTH Electric Class 141P Mikado Locomotives
In the post-war years French steam traction was dominated by US and Canadian built engines until steam was eventually phased out in the republic some 30 years later in the mid-1970s. The 2-8-2 wheel arrangement of the 141R and 141P class locomotive was ideal for mixed traffic duties; they were not known to be extremely fast locomotives (maximum speed 105km) but were immensely strong engines deemed suitable for a variety of work requirements. Significant numbers of the locomotive classes could be seen hauling a mix of express passenger, mixed traffic and heavy fast freight trains throughout the French railway system. The 141R and 141P were based on a Green Bay & Western Railroad customised design which was modified to meet the SNCF loading gauge requirements which included changes to overall height, the fitting of European couplers and buffers, left-hand drive and uniquely and instantly recognisable French styled smoke deflectors. Some 1,340 of the 141R locomotives were built by US and Canadian works to meet war-time French losses together with a further batch of 318 locomotives – the more powerful and efficient 141P compound. The 141P although burning 30% less fuel and 40% less water was less reliable and it was the more numerous 141R that saw out steam days on French railways.
In early the part of the SNCF era network depots could exercise some degree of choice in locomotive paint jobs – green or black – the Chaumont version available in a black satin finish. French locomotives always had their depot names placed on cabside plates in red or blue – Argentan, Chaumont, Le Mans, Noisy Le Sec and Venissieux – are examples of the sheds used in the MTH models. The 141R and 141P were located in many depots across France but did not include Calais which was the home of the specially constructed class 241P used for premier international passenger express trains such as the Compagnie Internationale des Wagon-Lits et des Grand Express Européens (CIWL) Paris Londres ‘Flèche dÓr’ (Golden Arrow), the ‘Ferry de Nuit’ (Night Ferry) and the Calais originated Train Bleu (Blue Train) services.
The 141R and 141P were assigned to non-stopping express services across France. The Venissieux shed (near Lyon) supplied locomotives to run in the south east of the country so the most appropriate rake of MTH coaches to typically run with the 141P is the 20-60019 SNCF 5-car OCEM passenger car set or alternatively the weathered 20-810013 SNCF (1962) set. For purists the 20-60027 PLM set is too early (pre-war) and the 20-60026 (1969) too late as the locomotive had by then been withdrawn. The Office central d’études de matériel de chemins de fer (OCEM) – the Central Design Office for Railway Materials was created after WW1 to design new standardised locomotives and coaching stock for the nation’s railway companies. These were built by French companies before the newly nationalised SNCF further standardised new coach designs undertaken by a body called Division des études des voitures (DEV). There are different types of OCEM steel sided coaches some with and some without visible rivets. This, in many ways, mirrored the UK situation where the Big Four railway companies built a wide range of coaching stock before British Railways (BR) consolidated the best designs with the introduction of the new Mk1 standard coach in the early 1950s.
The MTH 141P version will incorporate the following specifications:
- Two and three rail conversion
- Die-cast precision engineered all metal construction
- Deep flanged or scale wheels
- Sprung buffers
- Lighted cab interior
- Firebox glow and headlamps
- Optional British/European drop-link couplings on front and rear
- Satin finished paint scheme
- Driver and fireman figures included
- AC and DC compatible.