When the prototype railroads began to dieselize in the 1940s, model train manufacturers soon followed, recognizing that boys wanted models of the newest trains they were seeing on real railroads. One of the initial toy train forays into dieseldom was a Lionel replica of the best-selling diesel of the day, the F3 "covered wagon" made by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors.
Recognizing that EMD and the railroads were anxious to publicize their modern motive power, General Motors, the Santa Fe Railroad, and the New York Central Railroad helped share the cost of dies for the original models in exchange for having their names on engines that appeared on virtually every boy's holiday wish list for years. In the end, it seems the Santa Fe got the best deal, as its red, yellow, and silver "warbonnet" F3s remained a popular fixture on model railroad locomotives longer than any other railroad livery
. From the World War I era to the mid-1950s, The Texas Special was the way to travel from the Midwest to the Southwest in style. A joint venture of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (the Katy) and the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (the Frisco), it was the flagship of both railroads — Trains # 1 and # 2 in opposite directions — joining St. Louis with San Antonio, stopping in Dallas and Austin along the way and offering a separate section to Fort Worth. With connecting sleeper service to New York via the Pennsylvania Railroad and Washington, D.C. via the Baltimore & Ohio, The Texas Special offered one of the shortest routes between financial centers on the east coast and those in Texas.
With great fanfare, the Katy and Frisco upgraded the train to a diesel streamliner in 1948, with engines sporting the heralds of both railroads and a large Lone Star on the nose. More well-heeled travelers rode the overnight train in Pullman sleepers, while budget-conscious patrons slept in reclining-seat coaches. The service proved so popular that the original 14-car train sets, with car names honoring famous Texans like David Crockett, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, were frequently expanded to 20 cars.
To this day, the F3 diesels of the late 1940s and early 1950s are recognized as some of the best toys ever produced. Virtually full O gauge scale models, they were tremendously dependable, highly detailed for their time, and terrific pullers.
Relive the glory days of railroad travel with this deluxe consist, headed by a dual-motored RailKing Scale Electro-Motive F3 diesel. Enjoy the warm glow from the lighted passenger car interiors, warn bystanders out of the way with the locomotive’s air horn and bell, and activate station arrival and departure announcements for The Texas Special. Postwar and RailKing Scale fans will no doubt want to order this stellar M.T.H. replica of model railroading's most famous diesel. The look and feel of the classic original is faithfully reproduced, right down to the diecast metal chassis. Under the hood, however, lies the power and performance of ProtoSound 3.0, twin flywheel-equipped motors, and Proto-Smoke, offering today's model railroaders an operating experience that boys of the 1950s could only dream about.
Did You Know?
In a December 1950 radio show, famed comedian Jack Benny wrote a letter to Dear Santa Fe, saying "Christmas is almost here and it would make me happy if you gave me a train." While the railroad did not give Benny the real train he asked for, its publicity department did send him a Lionel model of the F3.