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Posted in Layout Designs by Rob Chant. (Last activity on Friday, June 25, 2021 at 13:07:00 ADT.)

OO9 SCALE: World War One Railway (Arras 1917)

Back in May of 2020, a member of the Micro/Small Model RR Layouts Facebook group was contemplating a World War I layout (titled "Arras 1917") using a modified version of my Marble Mountain Quarry Company track plan. His 11.5" x 28.5" (29cm x 72cm) OO9 scale layout was designed to fit on a shelf in a bookcase, and would depict the Battle of Arras.

Since he wanted the ability to run one of the Bachmann OO9 scale 10-12-D tank locomotives (4-6-0T), he had to increase the length of the turntable that was in my original plan. With the increase footprint, he was able to make the turntable 8-inches long to accommodate the loco and a piece of rolling stock.

After researching the area, the layout owner decided to break the layout into two scenes representative of the aftermath of the April 1917 Battle of Arras. During that battle, the British forces drove the Germans into retreat and recaptured, amongst others, the villages of Feuchy and Saint-Laurent-Blangy, on the Scarpe River.

While the layout was not intended to fit any single prototype scene, it was inspired by photographs found online from the Imperial War Museum, taken in the aftermath of the battle. On the Saint-Laurent-Blangy side of the layout, the scenery would represent a spot where the light railway ran along the Scarpe, near a group of cargo pontoons. On the Feuchy side, the light railway ran through the shelled-out remnants of the village, delivering supplies and transporting the wounded away from the front lines.

Once the idea was posted online, I got more involved in the design process, and eventually designed two rough drafts for the layout owner to consider. The second version included here was the one that held the most promise, for meeting the layout owner's wish list, and was more in tune with he had stated original plans.

My initial thoughts on a layout to fit your space, didn't include a turntable, since I felt that just an 8-inch sector plate could do the job of moving trains between the two scenes . However, in my opinion for it to work, the layout would need complimentary shipping/receiving points on either side of the backdrop to make it a self contained layout with a purpose.

As I see the track plan work, there would be three trains operating between the Feuchy (front line) and Saint-Laurent-Blangy (rear support): a hospital train, a troop train, and a supply train. The hospital and troop train would share the same motive power, while the supply train would be powered by a smaller locomotive.

The three trains would shuttle between each side of the layout using a 8-inch sector plate. The hospital train would carry wounded from a medic station at the front lines, to a field hospital in the rear. The troop train would carry troops from the Saint-Laurent-Blangy to the newly established front line. Supplies and ammo would be transported from the rear supply depot, to a new depot closer to the front at Feuchy.

Saint-Laurent-Blangy would consist of the field hospital (tents), the supply depot, and another short track for storing the car for troop movements. On the Feuchy side, there would be another supply depot, what remained of the village buildings, and a bombed out bridge scene (while I show a wooden support structure for the bridge, I think a destroyed stone arch bridge would be a much better choice), and an old dirt road. Of course, bomb craters would be everywhere.

The partial backdrop would be needed behind the buildings so they could be flats, and it could really be used to expand the scenes. As mentioned before, the sector plate would be hidden on the front line side by stacks of sand bags at the rear of the supply depot. On the hospital side, the owner could use scenery like a small hill, or trees to hide it.

While I would have loved to have been able to mock this up in 3D, I just didn't have the equipment needed nor could I easily make the destroyed structures in my CAD software. So, I just had to go with a 2D plan, and this explanation for the thinking behind the layout.

Track Plan:

2021.06.25B-001.gif (49814 bytes)

TAGS: Layout Size: Micro Layouts, Theme: Military Railways, Staging Options: Sector Plate, Other: France

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