• Cape Canaveral Air Force Station SW8s

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by drobertson
Several months ago two SW8s (2000 & 2007), retired from the Titan rocket program at CCAFS, were sent to Hill AFB for refurbishment. Anyone have any idea of their whereabouts now? This is a picture of them getting ready for transit from the locomotive shops at KSC/NASA (http://yardlimit.railfan.net/archive/dr/usaf-sw8.jpg).

The remaining SW8 (2021) will go on display at the Air Force Space & Missile Museum at CCAFS.

Apparently these three switchers were used in Korea prior to coming to CCAFS in 1965. Anyone have any background on this?
  by RailVet
At last report both locomotives were still at the rail shop at Hill AFB, UT.

The locomotives were written up in a article in the base newspaper at Patrick AFB, FL, on April 6, 2001 (below) which says they were operated by the Army's 724th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion in Korea during the war.

Locomotives have long, storied history
By Maj. Cindy East
45th SW Public Affairs

They’re veterans of the Korean War, seen combat, been wounded in action, never complain and are reaching their fifty-year anniversary on active duty this year!

So, who or what are they? They’re the three locomotives assigned to the 3rd Space Launch Squadron at Cape Canaveral AFS, fondly known as 2000, 2007, and 2021.

In 1951, General Motors built 41 Model SW-8 switch engine locomotives for the U.S. Army during the Korean War. All 41, numbering 2000-2040, shipped out to Korea for service with the 724th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion.

The Cold War was heating up and strategies of the time called for occupying large land mass areas. Railroads were used to meet these needs. Guerrilla actions were frequent with over 50 engagements recorded between U.S. Army rail units and the enemy. Many locomotives received battle damage and were "wounded in action."

Bryan Greibenow, Locomotive Photographer and Historian for Cornell University, has compiled one of the most complete military locomotive photo documentaries on record, and said, "It was a dream come true to visit CCAFS and photograph the locomotives."

Greibenow provided some new fodder on the locomotives’ service record. "Number 2021 was one of the locomotives that reportedly had a Purple Heart painted on it by its crew for the bullets it took while stationed in Seoul, Korea."

After a truce was signed in 1953, locomotives 2000, 2007 and 2021 were sent to the Air Force at the Cape. Trading in drab olive colors for Air Force blue, they became part of one of the world’s most unique railroads — the Integrated Titan Launch Railroad — a vital element of the Integrate-Transfer-Launch system at the Cape.

In order to perform their new mission of carrying extremely heavy, yet delicate, Titan rocket components weighing over 2 million pounds, the locomotives had to be significantly modified to give them a precision unknown and unnecessary to standard railroad equipment.

Capable of speeds in excess of 65 mph, they can also move separately or in unison, in increments of 1/64 of an inch, allowing them to move the huge Titans on their mobile launch platforms gently into position out at the launch pad.

These three veterans have dedicated over one third of a century tirelessly pushing their powerfully heavy, sensitive and expensive spacebound cargo back and forth over the 17-mile rail system.

ITL Railroad Lead Technician for Lockheed Martin, Tom Nelson, has spent more than 21 years of his life maintaining them.

"It takes two locomotives to move a Titan along its assembly line," Nelson explained.

They operate side-by-side, linked by a 15-foot boom that interconnects their generators and allows both to be operated by one person over the five miles of parallel double track line. Once the Titan core vehicle is assembled on its transporter-launch platform, the locomotives move it from the Vertical Integration Building to the Solid Motor Assembly and Readiness Facility where the core vehicle is joined by solid-fuel booster rockets. From there, the locomotives roll their oversized load out to the launch pad where the payload is attached.

"I’m hoping they don’t retire the locomotives," said Nelson. "They are a proven and vital part of the Titan program."

The Titan IV program is scheduled to exhaust its inventory by the year 2003, according to Maj Toby Volz, 3rd SLS Operations Officer.

"Both Lockheed Martin’s Atlas V and Boeing’s Delta IV launch vehicles are in the production phase and are projected to take over carrying heavy payloads into orbit. We have five Titan IVs remaining, all of which are critical to national defense and the locomotives play a critical role in their processing."

Craig Schreiber, Lead Engineer for Lockheed Martin’s Ground Mechanical Division, said current plans are to retire the SW8 locomotives in the 2003-2004 time frame and replace them with three Model 4850TM Trackmobiles.

According to the locomotive community, it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll be as powerful or have the same capabilities as the locomotives. In the area of braking, in particular, Nelson said, "We currently brake the locomotives side-by-side with sixteen wheels, whereas the trackmobiles use only four."

Regardless, the trackmobiles will have a mighty record to match in terms of reliability and service.

As Gen. Douglas MacArthur, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman said, "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away."

Hopefully, the "new kids on the block" will be able to meet the challenge when these three symbols of a bygone era come to the end of the line.