The Museum of Army Transport rail-ripper

The question of what happened to the railway-wrecking hook which used to be at the now-defunct Museum of Army Transport at Beverley in East Yorkshire sometimes arises in various places.

Some time ago I e-mailed the National Army Museum to ask if they knew where it had got to, and they kindly got back to me with the following information:

When the Museum of Army Transport closed, a large proportion of the vehicles were transferred to the National Army Museum, including the railway wrecker. This vehicle (NAM. 1998-09-89), a Pline C24, was made in Germany in 1943. It was used in Italy and indeed captured there by the British Army.

Since the move of the vehicles, some have been transferred to other institutions who have much larger storage facilities for these types of vehicles. The railway wrecker was transferred to the Ministry of Defence Railway Service in Marchwood and it is unlikely to be on public display.

A 31 March 2008 report filed with the Charity Commission gives some details of what the National Army Museum did with former Museum of Army Transport (and other) exhibits, and includes the hook:

Date of disposal Accession number Object Result of disposal
25 Feb 2008 1998-09-89 Railway wrecker, Pline C24 Transferred

Does anyone have a better photo of the Beverley hook which I could include on this website? I was a regular visitor to the Museum of Army Transport when I lived nearby, but as ever with things which seem so familiar, I didn’t take any photos and then one day it was gone.

Great Patriotic War museum rail hook

A replica of a Second World War rail-ripper hook wagon is included in the outdoor display area at the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Moscow.

Rail-ripping hook, Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Moscow, Russia

A sign explains:

The “Hook” combined track-wrecking machine (Germany)

Track-wrecking machine were produced at the Krupp factory since in 1942. They were applied for destruction of the railway way in second half of 1943. The mechanical principle of action was based on the breaking of the wood cross ties, deformation the rail and earthen cloth. It was towed by 1 or 2 locomotives.

The exposed track-wrecking machine was made for the museum by railway armies in 1995.

Performance

Weight of the equipped hook, T 30
Preparation for working, min 6-8
Work speed, kmph 7-10
Maintenance crew, people 10

Schienenwolf, Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Moscow, Russia

Railway destroying hook, Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Moscow, Russia

Railroad wrecking hook, Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Moscow, Russia

Photos © Andrew Grantham, taken on 25 March 2011.

Belgrade fortress Schienenwolf rail-hook walk around

Schienenwolf, Beograd fortress

This narrow-gauge “Schienenwolf” (“rail wolf”) hook for destroying railway tracks is on display at the fortress in the Kalemegdan park in the Serbian capital Belgrade.

Schienenwolf, Beograd fortress

Also known as a “Schwellenpflug” (“sleeper plough”), the hook would have been lowered into the trackbed, then the wagon dragged behind a locomotive, tearing the sleepers in half and generally making a mess to render the line unusable by the enemy.

I didn’t measure it, but presumably it is 760 mm gauge, as Yugoslavia once had an extensive rail network at that gauge.

The hook is now part of the collection of the Belgrade military museum (Vojni muzej Beograd), where I photographed it in October 2008. Although the museum itself isn’t all that exciting — especially if, like me, you don’t read Serbian — there is quite an impressive line-up of various tanks, guns and other old hardware parked up outside.

Schienenwolf, Beograd fortress

Schienenwolf, Beograd fortress

Schienenwolf, Beograd fortress

Schienenwolf, Beograd fortress


A similar Schienenwolf survives at a closed museum at Sarajevo in Bosnia, where I photographed it in 2007. The now-defunct Museum of Army Transport at Beverley in the UK also used to have one — hopefully it has been found a new home somewhere.

Armoured train and railway-wrecker in Sarajevo

An armoured train vehicle and a rail-mounted hook for ripping up railway tracks were lurking behind a former museum building when I visited Sarajevo in July 2007.

Armoured train in Sarajevo

Armoured train in Sarajevo

Armoured train in Sarajevo

The railway vehicles were built for narrow gauge track. This would presumably be 2ft 6in/760 mm gauge, as Yugoslavia once had an extensive network to that gauge. Unfortunately I don’t know anything more about them.

There was also a tank, a big gun and a helicopter, all of which had seen better days, plus an abandoned statue of someone who had presumably fallen from favour and been hidden away behind the museum.

Armoured train

Armoured train

Armoured train in Sarajevo

Armoured train in Sarajevo

A website on pre-1946 tanks says “There was at least one armored train [in Croatia] which mounted French Somua S35 turrets”, and has a photograph of the train in service.

Rail-ripping hook

Railway wrecking hook

Called a Schienenwolf (rail wolf) in German, wrecking hooks like this would be pulled by a locomotive to destroy railway tracks behind a retreating army to prevent the line being used by the enemy.

Railway wrecking hook

Tank

Tank

Comparing it with pictures of tanks online, this might be a M3 light tank, a type which Yugoslav partisans used in the Second World War.

Helicopter

Derelict helicopter

This helicopter has seen better days. According to airliners.net, it is Bosnia-Herzegovina Air Force Mil Mi-8T number VF-3801.

Location

Museum building The ugly and box-like historical museum building was fairly easy to find, close to the national museum. Trams stop nearby, and though the museum appeared to be abandoned when I visited, the outdoor exhibits were freely accessible round the back.


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