Wild Blue Yonder: MTH USAF 44 tonner

Posted by Bob Keller
on Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Air Force 44-tonner looks terrific. The die-cast shell helps compensate for the size by adding extra weight to the tracks for good pulling power. In the rear is the USAF VO-1000 released a few years go.

Being somewhat under-employed these days, you’d think I’d have an unlimited amount of time to run trains. Not so. In fact, prior to last week, I hadn’t run a train in the basement in about a year.

A few months back I asked Jack Sommerfeld to track down an MTH US Air Force 44-tonner, and he did. But it has been sitting in its box for about two months and enough was enough.

The first thing was to clean off the junk that had accumulated on the right-of-way.

Next I dug out my anti-aircraft train. This is a group of mostly postwar Lionel New York Central gondolas. I bought quite a few Menards trucks with the cannon mounted on them. I also bought two with the quad anti-aircraft guns. I dismounted the guns and ammo containers and placed them in the gons.

I hooked up the 44-tonner and fired it up. It sounded good and was very responsive to throttle controls. I backed it up to the train and we were off.

Postwar cars generally don’t run as smoothly as modern cars, but you’d never have guessed that with the switcher at the point. It was also fun to run a train just to run a train!

I began to take some of the die-cast military vehicles I have scattered around the layout and plopped them on some flatcars (I’ll work up the dunnage to hold them in place later). For six or seven years I’ve had a terrific 6x6 anti-aircraft gun made by Solido parked under some trees near my main yard.

I reached under the trees to get it and when I lifted it out I heard a sound of stuff hitting the tabletop. I was stunned to see the rubber wheels literally falling apart as I moved the unit. Hokey smokes, what a mess. It was only with great care that I got it to a place to take a good look at it with a single mostly intact, but fractured wheel.

I’ve seen some pretty bad rubber traction tires, but I’ve never seen this on toy vehicles wheels.

Oh well, maybe I can squeeze the gun truck into a gondola!

The Anti-Aircraft train heads past a lineup of assorted military vehicles on flats.

There are quad AA guns behind the locomotive and bringing up the rear.

The lone non-Lionel gondola is from Williams.

The guns are ready to disrupt attacked from Pennsylvania RR Mig-21s!

The 44-tonner moves the train rapidly to the next hot spot.

The case of the deteriorating tires: Someone in Supply is going to hear about this!

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