Sunday, June 5, 2011

CN Canadian Forces move to Alberta

CN's Counter Street team track in Kingston was the loading point for Canadian Forces (CF) military vehicles destined Rendez-Vous 87 (RV87) in Wainwright, Alberta. On March 31, 1987, 9570-5031-5440 lifted 61 cars of 1 Canadian Signal Regiment (1 CSR) vehicles west, a little after 8 p.m., caboose 79917 tagging along. Two days earlier, vehicles including deuce-and-a-half MLVW's, GMC 5/4-ton signals trucks and trailers were staged at CFB Kingston, arriving via city streets at the team track, waiting in serpentine strings for loading to take place:

It's a Radio Relay truck, part of the LTACS communication system.
Area level communications between brigade and division headquarters 
along with select other organizations like support battalions. Only 
two dozen of these in the entire Forces. Inside the 
canvas portion are 2 gas generators, antennas 
and other support equipment for the detachment. 
In the pod is the comms gear, coffee pot and 
under the pod are the 2 50ft masts.

Circus-style loading at the single ramp meant that cuts of up to 10 cars were loaded at the ramp and pulled (right track, below) before being replaced with cuts of empty cars (left track, below):
GP-9 4506 was on hand to shuffle cuts of cars. When chocked and chained, the cars were shifted to the siding as Queens, where the train was assembled, with final assembly taking place March 31.
Loaded Trailer-Train flats are pulled down the west leg of the wye at Queens. The trucks already have a good coating of mud on their tires, from driving around the muddy team track loading area. Soon it'll be Alberta mud:
Interestingly, 4506 was the third unit on CN train 318, bringing flat cars to Kingston for CF loading. Fifteen of the empty flat cars derailed spectacularly. Read more about the immediate aftermath and cleanup of the derailment in this post.

Here's more information on RV87:
The aim of RV 87 is to exercise selected regular force formations and units of Mobile Command in a general war setting up to and including Division level and in all phases of war: advance, attack, defence, and withdrawal. The exercise will provide the type of intensity of activities which will allow commanders and trooops of all the combat area to confirm their mastery of basic and collective battle skills. Combat service support units will be stretched to the limit to provide the logistic support and administrative serives required/ RV 87 will be conducted in three phases of training:

Phase One: 12 April - 6 May 87
The first phase will be training conducted progressively up to the brigade group level. It will include the armoured corps cougar gunnery competition, artillery and field engineer training, the use of helicopters and combined training of the infantry, armour, artillery and engineers. During this phase, each major element of the brigade groups will learn to work with the others. This phase is designed to instil confidence and perfect the cohesiveness of each brigade group.

Phase Two: 7 May - 12 May 87
Phase Two will be a Divisional level field training exercise called Exercise BOLD WARRIOR.The aim of this phase of training is to practise defence and attack techniques at Division level. To accomplish this, the two brigade groups (1 Canadian Brigade Group and the Special Service Force) will be grouped together against a controlled enemy based on the Canadian Airborne Regiment. The scenario is that the friendly force is in a defensive line against an aggressor force. The attacking aggressor force will be forced to fall back and regroup; the defenders will then take the initiative, thus exercising both sides in attacking and defending.

Phase Three: 16 May - 5 Jun 87
The final phase, called Exercise PRAIRIE VIPER will be a live-fire exercise. Three selected Battle Groups will each conduct a one-week period of live fire training consisting of a series of progressive exercises from troop/platoon to Battle Group. For this purpose, a Field Firing Centre will be established at CFB Suffield from the period 20 April - 15 June 87. This phase of training will emphasize live firing of all weapons available to a Battle Group, battle procedure, all-arms cooperation, advance and attack drills and control and application of fighter ground attack aircraft.

The Battle Group exercised during Phase Three is composed of the following elements:
1 Battle Group Headquarters (based either on an Infantry Battalion HQ or an Armoured Regiment HQ)
2 Infantry Companies
2 Armoured Squadrons
1 Armoured Recce Troop and/or
1 Infantry Recce Platoon
1 Morter Platoon
1 Armoured Defence Platoon
1 Pioneer Platoon
1 Engineer Field Troop
1 Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge
2 Artillery Batteries and
1 Forward Logistics Group for first line support

Here's some of my modelling of CF movements in HO scale using some Roco Minitanks models, appropriately camouflaged and guarded by an HO scale German shepherd:
Kitbashed 5/4-ton trucks:
and this scratchbuilt HOSMTDV (HO Scale Military Train Defender Vehicle) ready to bring its curiously threatening mix of half-track 50 cal. machine guns, APC turret guns and Sea Sparrow missiles to bear on any security threats along the line. Hell on rails!
Running extra...
Interesting discussion on Yahoogroups this week about the LRC operating outside the Corridor. It happened at least once - the LRC locomotive and coach demo'd with two CN coaches as far west as Winnipeg. Early VIA plans were for the LRC to operate on eastern and western services, which never happened in revenue service. The early poor serviceability of the LRC equipment likely accounted for the equipment historically staying close to Montreal and the east, and the use of service reps known as 'train riders'.
'Bus Rider' was a hit for Winnipeg's Guess Who. The Jets are returning to Winnipeg. Maybe they'll be called the Threshers, more agrarian and Canadian than Thrashers, which is the Georgia state bird - the brown thrasher. Maybe they can com-bine the two.
Don Cherry looked natty last night in a blue blazer designed by Leroy's Neon Products of Hamilton. During Coach's Corner, he asked Ron MacLean at least twice an agitated "WHAT?", and Don was his usual irascible self. Could 'Coach's Corner' also have been a part of VIA's Spadina coachyard in its day?


Zartok-35 said...

Thats a beautiful shot of the 4506.
Once again, the CN has the GP40L ahead of the SD units to power the train. They did that alot, it seems.
Thoes are some good looking models you have there, too. I just got a new Athearn OTTX flatcar the other day; consider me 'inspired'.

I'm listening to "Bus Rider" as I type this. Speaking of canadiana, a 'The Raccoons' marathon was on TV today. That show would have been at the top of it's game in 1987.

Unknown said...

Can you imagine what the rails were carrying on a regular basis during the second world war? It must have been as exciting as this one that you have captured with great pics.

Eric said...

Hi Elijah,

Low afternoon sun, high-nosed Geep, life is good indeed. Thanks for your comments.

Regarding the OTTX flat, mine is completely unweathered, although I did paint the wood deck.

One of the voices on The Raccoons was provided by Keith Hampshire. I wonder if this was the same K.H. of Canadian pop singer fame, who also penned the 'OK Blue Jays' anthem. I was more of a Friendly Giant/Chez Helene/Mr Dressup kinda guy.


Eric said...

Hi Powmill,

You're right, the wartime freight and passenger traffic was huge and it's easy to see why that unfortunate global conflagration lifted the railways out of the Depression.

In my 1987 railfanning at Counter Street, it was still Cold War thinking, way pre-9/11 and there were no photo restrictions or even talk of them, unlike today where it's a sensitive topic.

Thanks very much for your question and comment,

Canadian Train Geek said...

Sea Sparrows? I'm surprised there wasn't a 5 inch gun on that car! Maybe a depth charge launcher? Hedgehog? The mind boggles.

There's a prototype for everything... but maybe not that. ;) Good to see you're having fun with it.

Eric said...

It goes nicely in a train with the German railway gun model I picked up at a train show. Whatever was in my scrap box at the time got added to that car. Also, notice the observer's position with searchlight located amidships, er I mean in the middle of the car.

Thanks for your comment, Steve.

Robert in Port Townsend said...

I am speechless. Photographing military movements. Expect a knock on the door from a member of "Citizens for Rail Security." You just violated the First Directive!

Eric said...

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your comment - I appreciate your concern, and believe me, I want to keep sharing classic Canadian railroading with my viewers, so I pledge to not photograph military equipment once the CF start shipping the equipment tarped. Heck, they paint it in camo and I can still find it!

Is it East Dubuque or East Germany? Our Railway Association of Canada is also dabbling in this hyper-security stuff. Remember the Rail Garrison? Didn't work, so it's now a museum in Ohio. Defeated by railfans with Instamatics!


Bryan said...

Hi Eric,

I have been away and haven't checked-in in a while. How did the CF trucks get back? Was there a similar unloading at the team track?


Eric said...

Hi Bryan,

Welcome back, hopefully I've given you lots of interesting Trackside Treasure material to catch up on.

I didn't see the return movement. I would assume the process took place in reverse, with the trucks then driven back to CFB Kingston.

Watch for an upcoming post with an engineer unit also moving by train.