• Locomotive builders during WW2

  • Discussion of Electro-Motive locomotive products and technology, past and present. Official web site can be found here: http://www.emdiesels.com/.
Discussion of Electro-Motive locomotive products and technology, past and present. Official web site can be found here: http://www.emdiesels.com/.

Moderator: GOLDEN-ARM

  by Nelson Bay
Article extracted from "Golden GM", a General Motors retiree newsletter:

In September of 1939, Germany invaded Poland,
plunging Europe into the Second World War. Within
a few days, Britain and France declared war on
Germany, and in short time almost all of the
countries in Europe and Scandinavia were drawn into
the conflagration. As the German armies made rapid
advances on all fronts, the United States initially
remained neutral, although US government policy
was tilted strongly in favor of supporting England,
which was isolated by the successful German military
occupation of most of Europe and an ensuing
submarine blockade.
Long before December 7, 1941, the US armed forces
were acting on an assumption that it would only be a
matter of time before the United States became a
combatant. The US military branches established
information gathering missions in the United
Kingdom, examining the damage done by German
aerial bombing, observing military operations, and
assessing the effectiveness of British warships and
aircraft to try to make improvements in similar
classes of US Navy vessels. An air of pacifism still
existed in the US, and the close association of the US
military with their counterparts in England was
seldom mentioned, just as the sinking of tankers and
merchant ships just off US shores was being played
down in the media. But people on the beaches from
New England to Florida could see the fires of burning
ships out to see, the US involvement in World War
Two was just over the horizon.
The plight of England was so critical by early 1940
that the Roosevelt administration initiated an urgent
policy of “Lend-Lease” supply of military equipment
to the British Armed Forces. Initially developed with
the sale of surplus older warships, this program
expanded along with the urgency of the strategic
situation to include the supply of the most modern
aircraft and armaments, and joint efforts to design
aircraft and warships that could serve the needs of
both the British and US armed forces. The United
States quickly mobilized its industrial segment that
could adapt to building armaments, and among the
major builders were the US manufacturers of railroad
locomotives, both steam and diesel. Due to the heavy
industrial capacity and spacious assembly halls of
their factories, the locomotive builders were
strategically positioned to contribute to the war
effort. Electro-Motive, American Locomotive
Company, Baldwin Locomotive Works, and Lima
Locomotive Works all became major contributors to
the war effort, not only building locomotives but also
a wide range of armaments and marine propulsion
products for some of the highest priority war projects.
At some times during the war the importance of these
special projects would completely eclipse railroad
production in the existing locomotive builders plants.
Fairbanks Morse, already a highly successful supplier
of marine and stationary diesel engines, would evolve
during the war into an additional locomotive building
competitor for the postwar market.
Following the surprise attack on December 7, 1941
by the Japanese Navy on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl
Harbor, Hawaii, and the advance of Japanese forces
across southeast Asia during the spring of 1942
resulting in the fall of the Philippines, the war
emergency became so critical that the US
government intervened directly in the business of the
locomotive builders. This intervention not only
included control of the allocation of metals and
resources, it also included direct funding and
participation in the expansion of facilities and the
supply of machine tools. There was great fear in early
1942 that unless the Japanese advances in the Pacific
were stopped quickly, there could be an invasion of
the continental US West Coast. This resulted in
several projects for the US Navy being given the
highest possible priority in the war effort, and to
some extent these high priority projects dictated
which companies would achieve the greatest
expansion of their plants and manufacturing
capability during the years of hostilities.
As the builders geared up for war production, their
advertising and public relations departments
produced a steady flow of new advertising copy for
trade publications and national magazines. Many of
the themes were predictable, working together to
support the war effort, buying war bonds to finance
defense projects, and highlighting the contribution
that the builders products were making to the war
effort. As this was going on, each of the companies
producing locomotives remained aware that at some
point the conflict was going to end and they would
once again be facing each other as adversaries in the
postwar locomotive market. That market that was
likely to be heavily involved with diesel-electric
locomotives and could upset the market share of the
traditional steam locomotive builders. Consequently
wartime advertising became much more than just a
patriotic exercise, it was also preparation for the
peacetime economy that would follow, and an urgent
opportunity to present the companies to railroad
executives in the most positive way.
Each builder has their own way of approaching this
problem, and their success or failure to promote
themselves adequately during the war years was
critical to their future success. There was no
consistent “right way” to do this, each of the
locomotive builders adopted their own forms of
advertising, and the contrast between those
presentations is what this article is about.
Electro-Motive in World War Two
At the beginning of the war in Europe, Electro-
Motive was probably the smallest of the major US
locomotive builders in terms of the size of their
factory, but enjoyed the greatest potential for
expansion due to the forward thinking of GM
President Alfred P. Sloan Jr. and other GM
executives. In setting up an assembly plant for diesel
locomotives they had selected a large cornfield in La
Grange, Illinois, which turned out to be an ideal site
for the factory. Located on critical routes of rail
commerce around the southwest side of Chicago, the
enormous tract of property left room for many
subsequent plant expansions.
But Electro-Motive was just one segment of GM’s
multi-faceted diesel business. As recently as 1934
they had simply been a railroad industry sales office
within the prestigious GM owned Winton Engine
Corporation in Cleveland, when the decision was
reached within the corporation to spin Electro-Motive
off into its own new facilities. At that time, the
Electro-Motive switchers and streamlined passenger
locomotives were being powered with engines built
by Winton. Development programs that resulted from
some of the discovered shortcomings of the Winton
201A engine in railroad service resulted in the design
of an improved railroad diesel engine, the Model 567,
that was ready for commercial introduction in 1938.
At the same time the corporation was also developing
several other new diesel designs based on the 201A
experience, one of these being a small two-stroke
cycle truck and bus engine that would quickly grow
into one of the most widely produced and successful
diesel engines of all time, the Detroit Diesel 71
A sequence of often overlooked events, all happening
in a relatively short time period during 1937 and
1938, would dictate the development of Electro-
Motive into a manufacturing as well as an assembly
shop, and would also direct the GM sales effort for
diesel products for many years afterwards. These
events were:
1. The existing Winton Engine Corporation became
the Cleveland Diesel Division of GM.
2. A critical decision was reached to manufacture the
new Model 567 engine at La Grange rather than
Cleveland, turning Electro-Motive into a diesel
engine builder.
3. GM introduced the new Model 71 diesel engine
and opened the Detroit Diesel Plant that would build
it, setting up a third division of GM that was able to
build diesel engines.
4. The company established a unified marine and
industrial marketing agency, the Diesel Engine
Division of General Motors Corporation, which used
“GM Diesel Power” as its advertising title. This
agency would handle the advertising of Cleveland
Diesel, Detroit Diesel, and Electro-Motive engines as
a combined function in much of the World War Two
era advertising.
5. A decision was reached that Electro-Motive would
handle all railroad product sales independently of the
other divisions and independently of the marine and
industrial marketing agency. At that time, Electro-
Motive did not handle its own advertising, it was all
handled by the corporation. EMD would finally
develop independent advertising programs and
themes in the middle of World War Two.
These moves set up parallel paths that separated
marine and industrial products from the railroad
product lines, not only in production, but also in
marketing and sales. It would result in GM having
two separate advertising efforts for many years
afterwards, including during the early wartime years.
The division of the sales effort and the establishment
of the Diesel Engine Division of General Motors
Corporation (GM Diesel Power) was announced to
the various customer segments in early 1938,
including to the railroad industry through an article
published in Railway Age Magazine on January 29,
During the defense buildup prior to the attack on
Pearl Harbor, Electro-Motive advertising followed
very conventional approaches, highlighting the
introduction of new locomotives, touting the
performance of locomotives on railroads that had
already partially dieselized, and talking about the
visibility from the cabs of their switchers and the
endurance and performance of the FT’s and E-units
in mainline service. The first issue of Railway Age
following Pearl harbor, dated December 13 ,1941,
carried an Electro-Motive ad featuring 15 switchers
built for the Grand Trunk Western, titled “Power plus
Profits”. The summary line was “Dieselize and
Economize with GM’.
By early 1942 the wartime ads, based around a much
greater sense of urgency, had started to appear.
Several themes developed that would dominate
Electro-Motive’s wartime advertising, including
“Time is Short, Diesels are Fast” and “Speed up to
Victory”. At this point EMD did not have their own
internal advertising department and staff, the
advertising campaign was being handled by GM
corporate offices. The emphasis shifted away from
the switchers and E-units, and in favor of the FT,
which had received favorable status from the War
Production Board as a product of vital importance to
the war effort. For most of the rest of the war,
whenever GM ran a multi-page EMD ad in a
magazine, it usually began with several pages
featuring large images of recently delivered FT
locomotives, and ended with a page or two of
switchers and E-units crowded together.
The FT was also extensively featured in combination
with other GM produced war equipment, being
shown in ads that included airplanes built by Buick
and Oldsmobile, and frequently featured with the
very dynamic looking US Navy 20mm Oerlikon antiaircraft
cannon, built by Pontiac Motor Division
under a license agreement with Oerlikon AG of
Not all the GM wartime ads for EMD products were
about locomotives. Thanks to the excellent
performance of twelve early EMC 12-567 engines
that had been installed in the three US Navy
prototype fleet tugs NAVAJO, SEMINOLE, and
CHEROKEE, Electro-Motive was able to land one of
the highest priority projects of World War Two. This
was the production of more than 1200 machinery sets
of two diesel engines each for US Navy LST
(Landing Ship Tank) vessels. Apparently the
corporation felt reasonably secure that La Grange
would not be attacked by the Axis, as they took out a
number of ads that clearly identified Electro-Motive
as the primary engine builder for the Navy LST
program, the common byline for these ads being
“Locomotive Diesels go to Sea”.
Meanwhile GM Diesel Power was running their own
wartime advertising campaign, featuring EMD
products as well as equipment built by Cleveland
Diesel and Detroit Diesel. One of the most unusual
EMD wartime projects was the 16-184A radial
“pancake” diesel engine, an incredibly powerful and
lightly constructed two-stroke cycle engine that had
initially been envisioned as an aviation engine for
dirigibles and flying boats, but was adapted in the
war emergency to fill the needs of the Navy
subchaser program. One of the wartime advertising
campaigns for this engine was called “Pancakes that
U-Boats can’t Stomach”, illustrated with a dramatic
two-page color presentation that was run in many
major magazines.
GM had recognized in the prewar period that public
demand had some influence on the future of their
products, and they also had mastered the ability to
give a strategically placed “pat on the back” to
railroad executives who bought their locomotives, by
placing ads that complimented their great wisdom in
selecting General Motors products. These two
advertising strategies were continued by GM Diesel
Power in an impressive series of military artwork ads
that with titles like “Power to Wage War and Serve
Peace” and “GM Diesels Serve Wherever America
Needs Power”. These campaigns were generally not
run in railroad trade journals, they were featured in
mainstream US publications like National
Geographic, Saturday Evening Post, and Colliers
Magazine. A frequently featured highlight of these
ads was a small block with an artwork image of an
FT or E-unit and text like this:
“With each war there seems to develop a new era in
transportation. And in this one there is the epochmaking
General Motors Diesel Locomotive, tried,
proven, and providing a new pattern of
transportation, keyed to the greater days ahead”.
In the middle of the war, Electro-Motive introduced a
series of “pat on the back” ads that highlighted the
railroads that had purchased FT locomotives, and
featured a colorful combination of Currier and Ives
lithographs along with new artwork that had been
developed in the Currier and Ives style. Despite
wartime paper shortages, this memorable series of
colorful ads was also produced in large format
reproductions that were widely distributed to railroad
executives. At the same time, EMD began
distributing 18 by 24 inch prints of the paint and
styling section artwork for proposed paint schemes
that had been developed by Ben Dedek and other
EMD artists.
While the immediate objective was to win the war,
the GM advertising campaign was also consistently
aimed toward winning the peacetime market which
would follow. The repetitive themes of speed and
reliability that were established during the war years
were carried forward into the postwar advertising
campaigns, augmented by arguments favoring the
comfort and cleanliness afforded by diesel
locomotives in passenger service. The mix proved to
be a winning combination for EMD in the postwar
American Locomotive Company (ALCO)
Of the three major steam locomotive manufacturers,
the American Locomotive Company was the leading
competitor to Electro-Motive in the development and
marketing of diesel locomotives throughout World
War Two. ALCO had been a pioneer in diesel
development with a close association with General
Electric that developed into a marketing partnership
when Electro-Motive developed their own electrical
transmission equipment in 1938 and stopped buying
generators and traction motors from GE. Although
Baldwin had also been an early diesel pioneer, they
failed to make a significant penetration of the diesel
market until the introduction of their VO 660 and VO
1000 switcher series in 1939.
Throughout its early diesel development ALCO was
faced with the dilemma caused by the need to
advertise and promote diesels to compete with
Electro-Motive while also having to compete for
steam locomotive business with Baldwin and Lima.
This not only divided the advertising effort, it also
resulted in direct conflicts as the diesel operations
tried to feature the advantages of their product line
without undercutting the position of the steam sales
effort. As one retired ALCO engineer later
“We had people trying to compete with EMD for
diesel sales while the company executives were
running around giving speeches that steam would be
the dominant form of motive power for the
foreseeable future”.
Despite these handicaps, ALCO mounted an
impressive although sometimes uneven advertising
effort during World War Two. Their approach to
publicizing their products and company name were
quite different from Electro-Motive’s programs that
were influenced by GM automotive management.
Their primary concern was with railroad management
and industry professionals, and for this reason most
of their effort in the early war years was spent on
advertising for Railway Age and similar industry
magazines. The ads prepared for these publications
continued their prewar practices, with single page ads
with a text message supported by minimal graphics,
and multi-page ads that were usually photo features
for recently delivered products or the introduction of
a new locomotive model. The introduction of the
ALCO RS-1, which was initially called a roadswitcher
(two words), was typical of the multi page
spreads, with color backgrounds and text combined
with black and white illustrations.
A curious aspect of ALCO advertising was the lack
of individual publicity for their line of 2000
horsepower twin engined passenger locomotives,
beginning with Rock Island #624 (a DL-103b) and
concluding with the delivery of the DL-109 fleet to
the New Haven Railroad during the war years. At the
time this series of locomotives was being developed
they gathered minimal press attention compared with
Electro-Motive’s E-units. The DL-109 actually did
have a commercial “name”, which was the “Diesel-
Liner”, but it was used very sparingly in ALCO
advertising and never caught the attention of railroad
enthusiasts. In the early war years, advertising for
this series of locomotives was almost always
combined with advertising for steam, and
occasionally also for GE built electric locomotives.
In the few stand-alone ads for the locomotives the
themes were very basic, including “Capture New
Passenger Revenue” and “high Availability – Low
Operating Cost”. In an ad titled “Two Trains of
Thought”, the DL-109 was teamed with the
Milwaukee Road Hiawatha steam power to signify
ALCO’s willingness to build for either market. A
similar theme was presented in another DL-109 ad
titled “What Do You Feed and Iron Horse”, which
pitched ALCO-GE’s ability to build locomotives that
ran on diesel fuel as well as coal or electricity.
ALCO tried to exploit the ability of the DL-109 to be
used in either freight or passenger service, something
which was more a result of the enormous weight of
its two 539 engines than a real design advantage. The
New Haven DL-109s were much heavier than EMD
E-units, weighing almost as much as a modern six
axle roadswitcher, and while this extra weight
provided more tractive effort for pulling freight
trains, it was also more weight to drag around in
passenger service and made the locomotive more
expensive to construct than its competitors. Their
early attempts at defining a dual-purpose use for the
DL-109 also took in many of their steam locomotives
and their switchers. One ad called “How Many
Locomotives Make a Railroad” talked about dualservice
applications but featured many locomotives
that were clearly unsuitable for such a role. ALCOGE’s
best DL-109 ad of the wartime period featured
a New Haven DL-109 appearing from beneath a
highway bridge with the title “Quick – What’s It
Pulling – Boxcars or Berths?”. It was by far ALCO’s
best effort at promoting the DL-109, but really
effective promotion of their diesels finally arrived in
1946 with the introduction of the FA-1 (the “1500” in
ALCO nomenclature of the time) and the closely
following debut of the PA-1 (the “2000”, ignoring the
earlier DL-109 production).
ALCO ran several series of ads during the war that
were quite original and different from the offerings of
the other locomotive manufacturers. One was the
“news” ad, in which they invited a noted radio
commentator or print media reported into the
Schenectady plant, and then published his memoir of
the visit accompanied by artwork showing the
wartime production. These were accompanied by
attractively presented black and white artwork
depicting ALCO’s products, steam and diesel
locomotives, army tanks, 155mm long guns on
mobile carriages, and other large military hardware.
Sometimes overlooked in the advertising was that
ALCO was a major producer of high quality springs,
and these were used by many other war contractors in
their products. Included among this wide range of
items were the recoil springs for the highly successful
M1 Garand main battle rifles. ALCO also constructed
components for Navy gun turrets, bombs and
munitions, heat exchangers, pipes and valves, and
other heavy industrial hardware.
Another series of ALCO wartime ads dealt with the
brutality of the Nazis, and were remarkable for their
stark contrast with the advertising practices of the
other builders. These ads were accompanied by
staged photos and artwork that showed firing squads,
rows of corpses hanging from gallows, and a lineup
of young women being examined for selective
breeding. While the basis for the ads was rooted in
the reality of events in Europe, they conveyed the
brutality of the Nazis so forcefully that their value as
a means of advertising identity tended to be
overpowered by the presentation. No other builder of
locomotives sponsored such a graphic statement on
the political and military realities of the times.
Baldwin Locomotive Works
Like ALCO, the Baldwin Locomotive Works entered
World War Two with a wide range of commercial
activities that was further supplemented by wartime
emergency production programs. They had been a
pioneering developer of diesel locomotives, but were
left behind in diesel development by ALCO and
Electro-Motive during the mid-1930s. They began to
produce their line of standardized switchers using the
VO diesel engine just before the US entry into World
War Two, and produced diesels and steam
locomotives during the war years.
In addition to its locomotive applications, the
Baldwin VO diesel prime mover was built for use in
stationary power generating plants, mobile power
generating mounted on skid units, and marine power
generating applications. It was also built for marine
propulsion uses, including one version that was direct
reversing, allowing the engine to be installed without
a reversing gear box. In its various configurations the
Baldwin diesel engine powered Navy minesweepers
and auxiliary tugs, and provided ships service and
emergency power for transports, cargo ships and
combatant vessels.
Baldwin built several series of diesel engines that are
seldom mentioned due to their use in non-locomotive
applications. These included the very large VA and
VB series, plus the VF, VG, and VM series diesels,
and the DMC model that was a diesel engine
combined with an ammonia compressor for
refrigeration uses.
Baldwin, along with ALCO, was one of the primary
contractors for the manufacture of the US Army’s
Sherman tanks. Their production was the same model
mix built at ALCO, the M4 tank powered by a
Continental nine cylinder radial engine, and the
M4A2 tank powered by twin Detroit Diesel 6-71
engines. The diesel tank, while economical to
operate, was considered to be underpowered and was
mainly employed stateside for training purposes.
Unlike ALCO, Baldwin’s wartime advertising in the
railroad trade press seldom mentioned their stationary
or marine diesels, or their production of Army tanks.
It was a mix of diesel and steam locomotive
advertising, a showcase of their wartime production
combined with theme ads that touted their
locomotives’ contribution to the war effort. Their
presentation tended to be more conservative than
ALCO or Electro-Motive, with full color advertising
employed only occasionally. Many of the ads were
two-color, and most of them were only single page
Often overlooked in Baldwin’s extensive wartime
production are a group of full carbody six-axle road
locomotives, constructed for the Soviet Union. These
locomotives were being built while the war was in
progress, and were delivered following the cessation
of hostilities in Europe. Equipped with the early and
unremarkably styled Baldwin nose and windshield
design, they were in fact the subject of some
advertising coverage in the US trade press at the time
of their completion.
At the cessation of hostilities, Baldwin was well
established commercially as a builder of diesel
locomotives, although their advertising mix still
included substantial coverage of their steam
locomotives. While they did not have as large a
population of diesels on the railroads as ALCO, they
were well known as a diesel builder. What they
lacked during the early war years was a diesel prime
mover with the ability to get them into the 1500
horsepower range to compete with the EMD 567 and
the ALCO 241 and 244 models. That shortcoming
was recognized within Baldwin and resulted in the
development of the 608SC engine which was
introduced in 1945, and provided them with a
competitive diesel power plant for their postwar
locomotive products.
Lima Locomotive Works
The smallest of the major locomotive builders, the
Lima Locomotive Works approached World War
Two in a unique position. They alone in the group
were still focused primarily on steam locomotives
with no standardized line of diesel locomotives..
What they did have was a well-earned reputation as
an excellent builder of modern high-horsepower
steam locomotives, particularly their 2-8-4 Berkshire
designs, and for the war years this would remain a
major business enterprise. Much of their wartime
steam locomotive production was a continuation of
prewar designs, expanding classes of locomotives
that had already proven themselves with well
established customers. Wartime orders included
(among others):
2-8-2 locomotives for DT&I and AC&Y
2-8-4 locomotives for Pere Marquette, RF&P, and
Nickel Plate Road
4-8-4 locomotives for Central of Georgia, Southern
Pacific, RF&P, and C&O
4-8-2 locomotives for New York Central
2-6-6-6 locomotives for C&O and Virginian
Approximately 1100 steam locomotives of four types
were produced for the War Department.
Because the Lima Locomotive Works war production
continued aspects of their prewar commercial
activity, there was much less change in their wartime
railroad trade press advertising than was the case
with other builders. Their advertising was
conservative and simple, usually featuring a profile
photo of a recently completed locomotive along with
a short text giving a few statistics, above a logo block
that usually included a rendition of the Lima builders
plate. Ads with color were much rarer than with the
other builders, and they did not engage in the kind of
anti-nazi advertising used by ALCO.
But steam locomotives were not Lima’s only wartime
product line, they were also a major builder of
armaments as one of the primary contractors for the
US Army M4A1 Sherman tank. This vehicle was one
variation of the nearly 50,000 Shermans assembled
during the war years, and featured a cast hull. The
M4A1 was powered by a Continental nine cylinder
radial gasoline engine. A separate 200,000 square
foot building was erected on the property for the tank
assembly work. Curiously, the tanks are seldom
mentioned in Lima advertising.
At the end of the war, Lima Locomotive Works was
left with a challenging transition in order to penetrate
the diesel locomotive market that was already being
aggressively pursued by the other builders. They had
to team up with successful neighboring engine
builder Hamilton in order to develop diesel-electric
locomotives in the shortest possible lead time. Their
diesel locomotive production, begun in 1949 after
ALCO had already announced their transition to a
100% builder of diesel locomotives, was short lived
and their diesel locomotive product line was
discontinued when they merged with Baldwin in
Fairbanks – Morse
Fairbanks-Morse had a long history as a builder of
diesel engines for railroad, marine and industrial
applications prior to their entry into the locomotive
market toward the end of World War Two. But
diesels were only a portion of this company’s very
diversified product line. They also built small
gasoline engines for agricultural and industrial power
generation and pumping service, scales and precision
measuring devices, winches (including railroad car
“creepers”) , pumps, and agricultural products.
In the 1930s, F-M had designed a variety of diesel
engines in a wide range of sizes to suit the needs of
many types of service. Their line of two-stroke cycle
opposed-piston (OP) diesels were based on prewar
German diesel development and were built in two
sizes, 5-1/4 inch bore and 8-1/8 bore. The 38D8-1/8
OP engine was one of only two diesels that had
initially passed the US Navy submarine acceptance
testing in the early 1930s, the other being the
similarly sized Winton 201A.
The application of the F-M 38D8-1/8 OP engine to
fleet submarines began with the building programs of
the late 1930s, with F-M splitting the market about
equally with Winton. By the time World War Two
broke out, there were a number of fleet boats
operating with the F-M engines, and the diesel was
proving to be reliable and durable in submarine
service. When the emergency building programs to
expand the Navy were developed, F-M was in an
advantageous position as a trusted supplier, resulting
in their diesels being applied to many additional
classes of US Navy combatant and auxiliary vessels.
F-M had supplied engines for a number of railroad
applications prior to World War Two, but in the early
war years it would have been unthinkable for them to
introduce their own line of locomotives, considering
the urgency of the emergency construction programs
and the backlog of orders for their engines. However
by 1944 the German Navy’s submarine operations
had declined to the point where contracts for diesel
powered escort vessels were being cut back. The
Japanese Navy and merchant marine were being
pursued with great effectiveness by the submarine
force and naval aviation, and it was a matter of time
before the available targets were exhausted,
consequently cutbacks in the fleet submarine
construction program were imminent. F-M had
benefited from the war programs with expansions of
their Beloit, Wisconsin plant, and had manufacturing
space to spare for building new products.
F-M introduced their new line of locomotives
featuring the 38D8-1/8 OP engine in 1944, amid
much favorable publicity about their diesel engines
performance in submarine service. Their advertising
campaign in the railroad trade press made ample use
of images of fleet submarines and mention of their
engines success in marine service. Their advertising
campaign had many similarities to the ads used by
EMD, including multi color presentations with
impressive artwork. There were no political
overtones or anti-Nazi statements, nor did there need
to be, the foundation for the campaign was the
proven performance of their existing engines.
The OP engine was initially accepted by the railroads
as just another in the variety of diesels showing up on
the property in the rush to dieselize as the end of the
war approached. However, locomotive service had
some differences from marine applications, and these
quickly became apparent as the engines accumulated
operating hours. The OP engine was the most like the
EMD’s prime movers in its operating principle, but it
was very different in construction and service
techniques. The EMD 567 was quite adaptable to
piece-by-piece changeout of engine cylinder
assemblies and reciprocating parts, a cylinder “power
assembly” could be changed in a couple of hours. In
comparison, the F-M OP engine required pulling the
upper crankshaft in order to change a cylinder liner,
that could take several days of work. Unlike marine
applications, where the top of the engine was sitting
at shoulder height in an open engine room, the
mounting in a locomotive required inconvenient
work through roof access and carbody structure. The
enthusiasm for the F-M locomotives cooled once
these drawbacks were fully appreciated, and they
exited the US locomotive market with the downturn
in locomotive production at the end of the first wave
of dieselization in the early 1950s.
The War Books
Most of the locomotive builders did business with the
US Navy during World War Two, and as the war
ended they all adopted the format of the familiar
Navy “cruise books”, which were published by ships
after long deployments, and used similar
presentations to commemorate their participation in
the war effort. These were printed in fairly large
numbers and distributed among the wartime
employees and company executives. The war books
by Electro-Motive and Baldwin were particularly
memorable for their use of artwork and colorful
graphics, as well as their detailed documentation of
the company’s role in war production. In “Diesel War
Power”, Electro-Motive not only chronicled the
development of the 184A radial engine, the 6-71
Detroit Diesel quad, and the 567ATL engine for the
LST programs, they also provided production charts
covering the war years and diagrams of the
successive expansions of the plant. The surviving
issues of these war albums are now highly sought
collectibles, both for the thoroughness of their
documentation and the high quality of their
Baldwin and Lima produced books and brochures
during 1945-1946 that in varying degrees
commemorated their contribution to the US military
effort in World War Two. The Baldwin book, called
“Half a Century of Diesel Development”, was a
memorable large format album that combined
coverage of their locomotive, marine and stationary
engine production with the story of their involvement
in the development of the diesel engine. Lima
Locomotive Works published a hard bound album in
1946 that featured many of their wartime steam
Who Won and Who Lost
Wartime emergency production programs were
disruptive to all the locomotive builders, but there is
no question whatsoever that the Electro-Motive
Division of General Motors reaped the greatest
benefits from its involvement in World War Two.
Curiously, very little of this was the result of the
building of locomotives. Even though the EMD FT
was considered a high priority item for railroads in
need of motive power, the far greater priority given
US Navy projects virtually shut down locomotive
production at the La Grange plant for considerable
portions of the war. When the war ended, the largest
single fleet owner of EMD diesel engines, by a
considerable margin, was not a railroad, it was the
United States armed forces. It is reasonable to
speculate that if World War Two had not intervened,
EMD might have had even more FT locomotives on
the railroads in 1945 than actually happened.
However, if the war had not happened, EMD would
probably have entered the period of rapid
dieselization with a much smaller plant and more
limited internal manufacturing capabilities.
The foresight of GM management in providing EMD
with an enormous real estate tract for the La Grange
plant reaped benefits that were probably
unimaginable when the cornfield was purchased in
1935. Having this land available for expansion of the
plant put the division at the forefront of contenders
for additional business in the rapid buildup that
followed Pearl Harbor. The resulting US Navy war
emergency programs benefited EMD tremendously,
both in the building of additional plant space and in
the supply of hundreds of modern versatile machine
tools that were severely rationed and unavailable to
other builders during the war years. In the 1970s,
many of the machine tools in the La Grange plant
still wore tags identifying them as having been
supplied through the US Navy.
A secondary beneficiary of wartime emergency
programs was Fairbanks-Morse. The outstanding
performance of their opposed piston diesel engines in
the US Navy fleet submarines earned them favored
status with the Navy and also brought them
substantial public recognition. Their plant expansions
enabled them to enter the locomotive business as
wartime production wound down, and the impressive
reputation of their engines in Navy service helped
open the door to the railroad market. With the fleets
of steam power worn out and deteriorating at the end
of the war, the rush to dieselization was on, and F-M
ended up well positioned to participate.
ALCO and Baldwin and Lima all contributed
tremendously to the war effort. Alco and Baldwin
produced diesel locomotives in limited numbers
during the war years, as well as a wide variety of
projects for the armed forces. But neither of these
distinguished locomotive builders was able to land
projects that benefited them as much as EMD had
advanced through the 184A subchaser engine
construction, the assembly of the Detroit Diesel
“quads”, and the building of thousands of 567ATL
engines for the Navy LST’s. Both came out of the
war in facilities that had not grown to nearly the
extent enjoyed by EMD, and both were forced by the
changing railroad motive power market to embark on
time consuming realignments of their plants. ALCO
in particular was set back by their wartime
production efforts, which delayed the development of
their critical freight locomotive project in
competition with the Electro-Motive FT. When the
Black Maria demonstrators appeared in 1945, they
were already outdated and had been bypassed by
internal developments within ALCO that led to the
FA-1 and PA-1. Their mechanical and electrical
problems on their test runs foreshadowed much larger
problems for ALCO with the production locomotives
a short time later.
Of all the major builders, Lima Locomotive Works
probably gained the least advantage from their
involvement in wartime production programs. Of the
“big three” steam builders, they were left with the
greatest gap to span in turning their production from
steam to diesels. Despite the production of many
memorable steam designs in the late 1940s, they were
not able to achieve in the postwar market either the
visibility or the market share they had enjoyed in the
1930s. Their decline in the business led to their
merger with Baldwin, which turned out to be a less
than successful union of the two weakest builders in
the business and contributed to the eventual exit of
both from locomotive building.
But Lima and Baldwin were not the only companies
to emerge from the war programs in a less favorable
market position, another unanticipated casualty was
Cleveland Diesel, the former Winton Engine
Company. They had been one of the largest suppliers
of diesel engines during the war, and many of their
engines were for programs that had a lower priority
than the jobs assigned to EMD. As a result, a lot of
vessels that would have gotten Cleveland Diesels
were cancelled on the ways in 1945 and 1946,
resulting in a flood of recently manufactured 268A
and 278A Cleveland engines in the marine market.
This effectively wiped out Cleveland Diesel’s
postwar commercial marine market, and resulted in a
rapid reduction in work force. They managed to hang
on with their spare parts business and the production
of packaged vessels, including railroad tugboats, for a
few years longer. Eventually their #3 plant, which
had been built primarily to support the Navy
submarine engine production during the war, was
turned over to Electro-Motive, becoming their
Cleveland Assembly Plant. For many years
afterwards the plant turned out Geep and switcher
locomotives, augmenting La Grange production.
The EMD production of engines for the Navy did not
hurt them nearly as much as was the case at
Cleveland Diesel. Most of the programs using EMD
engines had been completed, the engines had been
installed, and it was several years after the war before
the ships that carried them began to be scrapped in
great numbers. In the late 1940s EMD was at full
capacity with the production of locomotives, and the
resale of retired LST engines simply helped open the
door to the marine market for them. Cleveland Diesel
was eventually closed down, with the production and
parts activity being folded into Electro-Motive. The
last Cleveland Diesel engines to be built were nonmagnetic
278A engines for US Navy minesweepers,
assembled at La Grange in 1960. Finally in 1977,
EMD sold off the rights to the Winton and Cleveland
Diesel designs to Hatch & Kirk of Seattle, leaving
Electro-Motive as the surviving and undisputed
winner of the large engine competition within
General Motors, as well as the leading builder in the
diesel locomotive market at that time.
  by Super Seis
This is superb. Wonder if a person with the initials 'PC' happened to write the piece ? Lest anyone forget, Alcos' president, RB McColl, had a seat on the WPB.

  by Nelson Bay
Don't know who the author is/was. I'm trying to find out. If it was PC hopefully he'll raise his hand!
  by mxdata
That text block is from an 18-page article on the US Locomotive Builders in World War Two, written by Preston Cook, that is published in the current issue of RAILROAD HISTORY magazine (released around April or May), a publication of the R&LHS. The article is illustrated with a variety of wartime advertising issued by EMD, GM Diesel Power Sales, Cleveland Diesel, ALCO-GE, Fairbanks-Morse, Baldwin Locomotive Works, and Lima Locomotive.

I am a little surprised the retiree newsletter repeated it without providing an author credit or explaining where it was published, it is in fact a copyrighted and registered article.

For those interested in obtaining an issue of the magazine that features the article, it is in the Spring-Summer 2010 issue of RAILROAD HISTORY, issue #202.

R&LHS Editorial Offices
15621 West 87th Street
Box 152
Lexena, KS 66219

Single copy price $16.00

  by Allen Hazen
That's very interesting indeed. A great deal of ink has been spilled on the possible effects on the various diesel builders of the War Production Board's restrictions on the diesel locomotive builders: this article suggests some nuances that I hadn't seen (or thought of) before: most important, the indirect effects (e.g. EMD's production facilities being expanded for war production and so being ready to take advantage of the post-war market for diesel locomotives). This article contributes to our understanding of what the effects were!

To oversimplify for dramatic effect: Alco and EMD were both limited in their locomotive-building activities, but EMD developed its abilities to build diesel engines, and Alco developed its abilities (& got gov't money to help enlarge its facilities) for building tank turrets!

Kudos for P.C.
  by mxdata
There are some minor differences in the text of the published article in RAILROAD HISTORY and the text block that Nelson Bay posted, so I suspect that the text in the retiree newsletter was borrowed from a preliminary copy sent to a retiree to check for accuracy. I can confirm that the author often interviews people who lived the history and also provides them with preliminary copies of the text developed from the interviews.

There is another article by the same author in a recent issue of Railfan & Railroad, covering the Steam Railroad School operations of the International Correspondence Schools of Scranton, Pennsylvania. It outlines the history of the company, documents their use of traveling training cars for railroad classes, and discusses how EMD and ALCO both borrowed many of the ICS practices in developing their own training departments.

The author stated in a recent posting on RYPN that he has pretty much eliminated doing programs, presentations, and teaching in order to give more time to writing, so look for more articles in the future.

Last edited by mxdata on Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by Nelson Bay
I didn't receive the entire copy of the retiree newsletter, just the extracted article that I posted. Some editing could have been before it was forwarded to me.