RS4TC Locomotives

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The following was scanned (with minor editing) from Extra 2200 South, Issue 59, January-February-March 1977, pages 30, 31:

As part of the Army's mobilization for the Korean War (mid 1951 to mid 1953) and until the deliveries were completed in late 1954, the United States Army, United States Air Force, United States Navy, and United States Marine Corps purchased about 435 units (83 Alco MRS1s, 16 BLH S12s, 20 Davenport 44-ton, two Davenport RS4TCs, 15 Davenport 80-ton, 41 EMD SW8s, 20 EMD GP7s, 13 EMD MRS1s, 20 FM H12-44s, five GE 25-ton, 15 GE 44-ton, 104 GE 80-ton, six Whitcomb 25-ton and 74 Whitcomb/BLH RS4TC).

Only a few SW8's served in or near Korea, but memories of WWII were fresh, and a defense-minded Congress appropriated vast sums for military transportation. Anticipating operation on foreign railroads, the Army had two multi-gauge, low clearance designs built--the MRS1 (EMD and Alco versions to be covered in a later article) for heavy service and the RS4TC (both Whitcomb/BLH and Davenport versions covered here) for light duty. One experimental torque-converter drive variation number 1281 and one strictly narrow gauge (36 inches, meter, or 42 inches) unit were ordered but the bulk were of standard, 60", 63", or 66" gauge Diesel-Electric design built by Whitcomb/BLH (except 4000).

All RS4TC versions had Caterpillar D6397 high speed, small bore and stroke engines for quick startup and shutdown. The 1200 series were for domestic service while slightly modified 4000 series, some with buffers, could be (but few were) sent overseas. The war ended, however, just as the first (USAF 4040) left Eddystone in July 1953. The Air Force (sharing a common numbering system with the Army, unlike the Navy and Marine Corps) was assigned 1274-76 and 4040-4044 (no railfan photos of these have surfaced) and the Army got the remainder, 1247-73, 1281, 4000-4039.

Most were cocooned during the late 1950s and 1960s while the vast surplus of military engines purchased during WWII were used up and eventually sold off to shortlines and industries. Very few pictures of RS4TCs were taken before 1967.

There is evidence that most or all units 4004-4013 were shipped to France and/or Germany and still may be there. At least half have been sighted going, coming or at Hill Air Force Base near Ogden, Utah, for storage and maintenance since 1971. Ft. Sill, Oklahoma; Ft. Eustis, Virginia; Ft. Bliss, Texas; Kelly AFB, Texas; Georgia Air Patrol, (Marietta, Georgia); Iowa Ordnance Plant (Burlington, Iowa) are among the other military installations using RS4TC's.

All were built to comply with standard ICC requirements. The hydraulic drive 1281 "General Nathanael Greene No.1", was used mainly at Ft. Eustis until at least 1963, was sold to Standard Gravel Co. at Clifton, VA, where it ran for only about six months before failing, and was finally cut down to frame in 1974-75 after being stored derelict for ten years.

The other two unique RS4TC's, Davenport 4000 and 4700N (N=narrow gauge) were both scrapped at Hill AFB in late 1973 to early 1974.

Apparently "RS4TC" means: Road and Switching service; 4th type or design (after 1st RSD1, 2nd GP7, 3rd MRS1), and Transportation Corps. The impetus for the military to develop its own locomotive designs (MRS1, RS4TC, GE end cab C-C number 3000, Davenport end cab B turbine number 1149, etc.) was mainly the Korean War. Ironically perhaps, the first RS4TC, number 4040, was outshopped July 1953, the month the war ended.

Extra 2200 South Research Sources: Keith E. Ardinger; Kenneth M. Ardinger; Craig Bossier; Bryan Griebenow; Rick Morgan; Dennis Ray; Ed Skinger


Extra 2200 South RS4TC General Notes:

Power Transmission:

  • USA/USAF 1247-1276 (30 units), USA 4000 (1 unit), USA/USAF 4001-4044 (44 units), and USA 4700N (1 unit) were Diesel-Electric locomotives equipped with one Westinghouse WH1604C generator and four Westinghouse 4WH974A traction motors.
  • USA 1281 was Diesel-Hydraulic locomotive equipped with Maybach Mekydro K64 4-speed torque converter.

All had General Steel Castings (GSC) trucks with 6' 11" wheelbase; 40 inch wheels; 19' 6" between centers.

All had Caterpillar D397 diesel engine; V12; 500 horsepower

All BLH RS4TCs had Whitcomb Diesel-Electric series serials.


  • USA/USAF 1247-1276, 4000, 4700N (32 units) had 38 feet, 11 inches length.
  • USA 1281 had 40 feet, 5 inches length.
  • USA/USAF 4001-4044 (44 units) had 39 feet, 2 inches length.


  • USA/USAF 1247-1276, (30 units) and USA/USAF 4001-4044 (44 units) had 12 feet, 6 inches height.
  • USA 1281 had 12 feet, 7 inches height
  • USA 4000 had 12 feet, 10 inches height.
  • USA 4700N had 11 feet, 3 inches height.

Roster Information

RS4TC (Standard Gauge) -- 30 units

Length Height Weight Fuel
USA 1247-1273 BLH 61202-61228 Oct 1953 to
Jan 1954
38' 11" 12' 6-1/2" 61 Tons 500 gallons
USAF 1274-1276 BLH 61288-61290 Feb 1954 38' 11" 12' 6-1/2" 61 Tons 500 gallons

General Notes:

  1. USA/USAF 1247-1276 were equipped for foreign service (with multiple unit controls).
  2. USA/USAF 1247-1276 had variable, convertible axles and wheels, convertible as standard (56-1/2 inches), 60 inches, 63 inches, or 66 inches gauge.
  3. Whitcomb design built by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton.

RS4TC (Diesel Hydraulic) -- 1 unit

Length Height Weight Fuel
USA 1281 BLH 40754 May 1955 40' 5 " 12' 10" 58 Tons 350 gallons

General Notes:

  1. USA 1281 was with a Maybach Mekydro K64 4-speed torque converter drive
  2. Aluminum cab and hood.
  3. USA 1281 was leased for test purposes to New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad from February 14, 1956 to November 19, 1956. (Jack Swanberg via email from Allen Copeland on January 2, 2009)
  4. USA 1281 was sold to Standard Gravel in Louisiana as number 5 in about 1964-1965; scrapped to frame in about 1975.

RS4TC (Convertible Gauge) -- 1 unit

Length Height Weight Fuel
USA 4000 Davenport 3360 Nov 1953 38' 11" 12' 10" 58 Tons 500 gallons

General Notes:

  1. USA 4000 had variable, convertible axles and wheels, convertible as 36 inches, 1 meter, or 42 inches gauge.
  2. USA 4000 was scrapped at Tooele Army Depot Rail Shop, Hill AFB, Utah, in about March 1974.

RS4TC (Foreign Service) -- 44 units

Length Height Weight Fuel
USA 4001-4039 BLH 61231-61269 Dec 1953 to
Jan 1955
39' 2-1/2" 12' 6-1/2" 61 Tons 500 gallons
USAF 4040, 4041 BLH 61229, 61230 Jul 1953 39' 2-1/2" 12' 6-1/2" 61 Tons 500 gallons
USAF 4042-4044 BLH 61285-61287 Feb 1954 39' 2-1/2" 12' 6-1/2" 61 Tons 500 gallons

General Notes:

  1. USA/USAF 4001-4044 were equipped for foreign service (with multiple unit controls); some had coupling buffers.
  2. USA/USAF 4001-4044 had variable, convertible axles and wheels, convertible as standard (56-1/2 inches), 60 inches, 63 inches, or 66 inches gauge.
  3. Whitcomb design built by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton.

RS4TC (Narrow Gauge) -- 1 unit

Length Height Weight Fuel
USA 4700N Davenport 3427 Nov 1953 38' 11" 11' 3" 57-1/2 tons 500 gallons

General Notes:

  1. USA 4700N was the same as USA 4000, but with lo-cab and narrow gauge application.
  2. USA 4700N had variable, convertible axles and wheels, convertible as 36 inches, 1 meter, or 42 inches gauge.
  3. USA 4700N was scrapped at Tooele Army Depot Rail Shop, Hill AFB, Utah, in about November 1973.

Documented Description

The following was posted to LocoNotes by Shane Deemer on January 15, 2007:

Here is the front page of the operator's manual for the RS4TC:

48 TON, RS-4-TC



Military Specification: MIL-L-11575 (TC)
Dated: 27 November 1951

U.S. Army Contract Nos.: DA-36-022-TC-6377

B.L.H. Order Nos: Sales Order 52703
Sales Order 300001

U.S. Army Locomotive Serial Nos.
USA-1247 through USA-1273
USAF 1274 through USAF-1276
USA-4001 through USA-4039
USAF-4040 through USAF-4044

B.L.H. Serial Nos.: 61202 through 61269
61285 through 61290

Delivered: 1953-1954


Eddystone Division
Philadelphia, PA.

Printed in U.S.A.
July, 1953

Whitcomb or Baldwin?

Shane Deemer Notes

Shane wrote that he had searched all of his Army TM's and manuals for the RS4TC, and had not been able to find any evidence that they were delivered under the Whitcomb name, even though they have Whitcomb serial numbers.

These locomotives were assembled in Baldwin's Eddystone Shops, as Whitcomb's shop in Rochelle had closed in February of 1952.

The RS4TCs were built in a Baldwin shop with Whitcomb serial numbers. (ed note: Kirkland's Baldwin history shows that Whitcomb was owned by Baldwin from 1931 on, and that Whitcomb's plant in Rochelle, Illinois, closed in 1951.)

Shane Deemer wrote to LocoNotes on January 14, 2007:

There were two series of RS4TC Locomotives:

1247 - 1276 [29]
4000 - 4044 [44]

I have yet to see an RS4TC with a Whitcomb Builder's plate - all of the plates I have personally inspected say Baldwin. When they were rebuilt in the late 1980s and early 1990s, their original data plates were removed, and it is difficult to find a RS4TC that was not rebuilt to RS4TC-1 specs and still has an manufacturer's data plate.

Bob Lehmuth Notes

The following was posted to LocoNotes by Bob Lehmuth on January 15, 2007:

The RS4TC's all carried construction numbers that were Whitcomb; not BLW construction numbers. The c/n's that are on the RS4TC's are in the 6xxxx series. If you consider this as a BLW loco, the c/n's would put the locomotives in the 1930's.

Also, the RS4TC's are all listed in the Whitcomb builder's records; nothing even referring to them in the BLW records.

One can go back to WWI era to find this occurring; that is, small locomotives were built by Whitcomb for Baldwin. Whitcomb construction numbers with many having received BLW "XO" [extra order] numbers.

The RS4TC's were finished in February 1954; BLW still had 2+ years left. In this period, Baldwin built many Whitcomb designed locomotives; some of which received BLH construction numbers and some received Whitcomb construction number.

The final locomotive build at Eddystone was BLH c/n 76151 - a BLH c/n on a very obvious Whitcomb design.

If it is a Whitcomb c/n, and shows in the Whitcomb records, I consider it a Whitcomb. Putting a subscript on them as "built at BLH-Eddystone" is acceptable, but they are still Whitcomb serial numbers, listed in the Whitcomb records, and are Whitcomb designs.

Rick Morgan Notes

I have to, politely, disagree with Bob Lehmuth's comments. The RS-4-TC is not a Whitcomb locomotive, but a Baldwin.

The picture I shot of Army 4003's rectangular builder's plate at Ft Bliss TX on 13 Mar 1974 doesn't mention Whitcomb; it says "Baldwin-Westinghouse Diesel Electric Locomotive" on the top and "Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton" in two other places; across the bottom and in a circle and diamond logo that dominates roughly the left third of the plate. (Rick Morgan message to LocoNotes on January 15, 2007)

During 2009-2010, I was able to visit and research the RS-4-TC at three major archival collections; the Army's Transportation Museum at Ft. Eustis VA, the Davenport Papers at the University of Iowa and the Baldwin collection at the California State Railroad Museum.

From reading these original sources, it's hard to reach any other conclusion that Baldwin-Eddystone had a lot more to do with these designs then Whitcomb did.

The RS-4-TC is anything but a "standard Whitcomb design"; it is actually a Davenport design custom-built to Army Military Specification (MilSpec), which the service turned over to BLH for production at Eddystone after Whitcomb had closed.

The only Whitcomb content on these locomotives is the builder's number, and these may have been assigned at Eddystone as it seems highly unlikely that builder numbers were assigned prior to actual contract signing, which was after Whitcomb's shut-down. (the question here is ‘did Baldwin's short-lived "Small Diesel Division" continue to use Whitcomb numbers through the end?" Don't know- but it seems possible).

The Army "Invitation to Bid" for this program was released on 29 December 1951. Although Whitcomb apparently had started some level of engineering work for a response, an internal BLH memo dated 3 July 1952 states that "...all drawings to be used for this order will have to be new and no Whitcomb drawings whatsoever can be used."

BLH records make it clear that the actual bid and proposal efforts and all engineering was done at BLH-Eddystone, which had full control over this contract no later then 24 January 1952 when the Army specified that the Davenport design (model DE-48 USAX 4000) would be the basis for their work. Not surprisingly, Baldwin had some trouble getting a full set of blueprints from Davenport and it was not until June 1952 that they were able to start the design modification work. They therefore, weren't even able to start on their version of the locomotive until months after Whitcomb had closed. Work was done in Pennsylvania. The formal bid for the Army contract came out of BLH-Eddystone and not Rochelle. (They were not, as stated by some, "sold by Whitcomb and sub-contracted to Baldwin")

Conclusion: Although not recognizable as a ‘true' Baldwin, the RS-4-TC is in fact a Baldwin modification of a Davenport design and not a Whitcomb.

More Information

Tooele Army Depot Rail Shop -- A brief chronology by Rick Morgan of the Tooele Army Depot Rail Shop at Hill AFB, Utah.

The Baldwin Diesel Zone's RS-4-TC page -- A web page at The Baldwin Diesel Zone about the BLH RS4TC locomotives