How were tanks (Tiger) (un)loaded to/from flatcars by the Wehrmacht?

I'm just starting to come up with ideas for my first diorama/train layout. I have a Liliput 230144 (flatcars w/ Tiger tanks) on order, and was thinking of having a depot/switching area showing various vehicles and tanks in different stages of being loaded or unloaded from a train. I assume at the factory or urban areas they may have a crane of some sort, but in the field or at a depot, did the build up a ramp with dirt or something to actually drive the tanks and vehicles on and off the flatcars? Curious what other think. I'm planning on depicting more of a rural setting near the front.


  • I'm guessing here, but I would imagine they backed each car in turn up to an earthen or concrete ramp and then shunted the empty to a siding next to the unload dock.

  • RailwriterRailwriter Durham, NC

    As far as I know, wheeled and tracked military equipment transported by rail has always been "self-loaded"--meaning it is driven aboard the flat cars via an end ramp.

    These ramps are equipped with bridge plates -- and additional bridge plates are placed between cars, so that an entire string of cars can be loaded at one time. Trying to load one car at a time by placing each at the loading ramp would be an extremely time-consuming process.

    Lifting equipment onto cars by crane would be somewhat self-defeating. Remember, much military equipment is very close to the loading gauge of railways, so the equipment has to be placed very precisely on the flat car so as to not overhang and violate the loading gauge. This is very hard to do when lifting the equipment by crane -- but relatively easy to do when the equipment is driven onto the car -- particularly when there is someone on the car to guide the driver.

    Yes, many European flat cars have end railings and some have low end bulkheads. The end railings can be lifted off. They just fit into sockets on the car. This includes the shaft for the handbrake, which has a rectangular end which fits into a rectangular socket for the brake mechanism.

    The low end bulkheads typically fold down and can be driven over in that position.

    About the only situation that I can think of where military equipment would be lifted onto a railcar by crane would be if it is so damaged that it cannot be moved on its own wheels or tracks.

    (I've observed --and photographed--the loading and unloading of U.S. military equipment on railcars both at Ft. Eustis, Va., and at the North Carolina State Port at Wilmington.)

    -- Ernest

  • Thanks for the replies. I'll have to keep thin in mind as I start working on my layout plans.

  • BR42BR42 Auburn

    Tiger tanks also had narrower tracks to be mounted during rail transport since they exceeded the permitted loading gauge otherwise.


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