The H10s ("s" for superheated steam) was the last and largest in a line of Pennsy Consolidations that stretched back to 1875. The 273 new H10s constructed by Alco, Baldwin, and Lima, as well as the 147 H10s rebuilt from older H8s in the railroad's own shops, represented Pennsy's premier fast freight power in the era just before World War I. With a good engine crew, an H10 could hustle about 50 cars along level track, or considerably more cars in drag service hauling coal or iron ore.
When the H10s engines were constructed, the Pennsy was still divided into Lines West - all of its affiliated railroads west of Pittsburgh - and Lines East. The H10s was strictly a Lines West phenomenon, built from a standard boiler common to the H8, H9, and H10 classes, but possessing the largest cylinders of any Pennsy "Consol." When a 1920 reorganization abolished the division between Lines East and West, the railroad owned over three thousand 2-8-0's, a majority of them having a common boiler design. It was a measure of the Pennsylvania Railroad's conservative management that in the early 1920s, its entire front line freight fleet consisted of a wheel arrangement deemed obsolete by other railroads. By the mid- and late-1920s, however, the H10s and their older siblings were pushed into secondary and branch line service by the arrival of larger, more modern power: Mikados, Decapods, and Mountains. Many Consolidations sat out the Depression years in storage, until recalled to service by the crush of World War II traffic. From the war years though the end of steam, H10s could be found all over the Pennsy, the Long Island Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Line in switching, work train, branch line, and occasionally main line service.
The H10s returns to the MTH lineup in 2015, featuring the level of detail you've come to expect in a Premier steamer. Virtually all piping and boiler appliances are separate, added-on parts, as are the bell and whistle cords. Rods and valve gear have a prototypically darkened, grimy appearance, and the ProtoSound 3.0 sound and control system features an accurate Pennsy whistle. If you model any period from the Woodrow Wilson era to the Eisenhower years, there's an appropriate chore on your railroad for this rugged, muscular-looking steamer.
Did You Know?
H10s No. 7688 was preserved by the Pennsy as part of its historical collection in Northumberland, PA. It resides today in the main exhibition hall of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania along with two earlier Consolidations: H3 No. 1187 (which has also appeared as a Premier line model) and an H6sb.