model train set on track

Which came first, the wild fowl or the embryo?

e*Train Issue: Mar 2002   |   Posted in: ,

by Bob Mintz

One of the more novel items of the postwar cold war period was the #3665 Minuteman missile launching car. On December 19, 1986, the White House announced President Reagan’s approval to develop a rail garrison system for basing part of the Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) force. To increase survivability of this force, 50 Peacekeepers would be deployed in existing Minuteman silos and 50 more would be mounted on 25 USAF trains, two per train. Each train would consist of two locomotives, two security cars, two missile launch cars housing the missiles, one launch control car, one fuel car, and one maintenance car. Each launch car carried one Peacekeeper ICBM, in a launch tube which could be elevated to fire the missile from the bed of the car. The trains would be parked in shelters located on USAF Strategic Air Command bases throughout the continental U.S., with the missiles on continuous alert. When necessary, the trains could be dispersed onto the nation’s rail network, making it extremely difficult for an enemy to target and destroy them. Development of the rail garrison deployment system was terminated in 1991 as Cold War tensions eased.

Major contractors for the rail garrison system were Boeing Aerospace Corp., Westinghouse Marine Division, and Rockwell International Autonetics. Overall body length of the launch car is 87 feet. Fully loaded, it would weigh more than 520,000 pounds. This prototype launch car was delivered to the Air Force Museum in 1994.

The next item in question is the new Lionel Hobby Shop. I first saw this at the 2000 Toy Fair here in New York City. I really appreciated the three small operating train displays within the store. But wait, for Christmas I received a licensed Lionel item, the key-chain, which for all practical purposes, wouldn’t fit in my, nor anyone else’s pocket.

I was examining the Santa Fe train in it and couldn’t help but wonder, was this the vision for those three train layouts in the Hobbyshop? An inquiry about this to Julie Laird, Lionel’s Communications Director, resulted in a Cheshire cat smile.