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Cold War Silliness

At the height of the cold war, amidst talk of radical changes in transportation, a battle cry could be heard from our Soviet neighbors: “We’re Russian, we don’t need no stinking bullet train … we have a jet plane instead”:

Russian Jet Train

This is actually a real train, albeit a prototype, built by the Russians in the early 1970s. Its maximum speed was about 180 mph, pretty impressive for an age when trains rarely exceeded 80, and it would still be amongst the fastest trains in the world today. via English Russia

Not surprisingly, the Russians got the idea from the United States:

United Stated Jet Train


This is the M-497, a jet-powered engine was tested in New York during the summer of 1966. No passengers were ever transported, but the train did exceed 183 mph (still a U.S. record today).

I would have figured the Russians would have at least tried to hit 184 to clinch the record, but (like me) they probably were just having trouble with the metric system conversion and gave up.

via Dark Roasted Blend

18 Responses to “Cold War Silliness”

  1. on 12 Apr 2007 at 1:42 am Anthony

    249 km/hr sounds way cooler than 183 mph :). Some day we’ll dump the old british system and learn to count by 10’s. Probably not in my lifetime though :(

    Anthony Scott
    My Insane Membrane

  2. on 12 Apr 2007 at 6:23 am Alice

    Is this thing save to ride? I would not want to travel with such a timing bomb. Maybe some would!

  3. on 12 Apr 2007 at 1:31 pm johnny dollar

    good thing they never built these in the u.s.
    can you imagine what would happen if MARC had those? they’d end up in the chesapeake bay or something.

  4. on 12 Apr 2007 at 6:11 pm Andi

    Johnny Dollar, the second picture is an AMERICAN train. Look at the picture, it says NEW YORK CENTRAL on the side

  5. on 13 Apr 2007 at 11:23 am Flavour man, who flavours things

    Yeah, dump that old British system that even the British don’t use anymore. Silly British! How could they come up with such a system? OH WAIT ARE WE THE ONLY IDIOTS STILL USING IT? Doik Americanas.

  6. on 15 Apr 2007 at 2:50 pm david

    He said that the 2nd and 3rd pics were American only the first one was Russian. read before you post.

  7. on 16 Apr 2007 at 11:36 am DogSolitude » Russian Jet Train

    […] Russina Jet Train, via Say No to Crack […]

  8. on 17 Apr 2007 at 7:06 am Ferenc TIMÁR


    I’m a railfan from Hungary.

    The idea isn’t so much new: german ingenieur Franz Kruckenberg invented his “Schienenzeppelin” which was a 2 axle railcar powered with an airplane motor fitted with a 4 blade wooden-propeller. It took a world speed record for railcars on 21/06/1931 at 230.2 km/h!

  9. on 17 Apr 2007 at 2:43 pm MuffinMonkey

    Typical Americans


    Face it

  10. on 18 Apr 2007 at 7:22 pm EvilGod

    183 mph is 294 kph, an even more impressive sounding number. Sorry Anthony.

  11. on 23 Apr 2007 at 7:46 am Dave

    FYI, Flavour man;

    The Brits do still use miles per hour to measure speed, and I’m told that Liberia and Myanmar do as well (though I’ve never been to either place to know for sure.) Besides, what difference can it make whether you measure it in MPH or KPH? KPH may be more impressive, for those that are impressed by big(ger) numbers, but the speed is the same.

    And what’s wrong with learning a few obscure number relationships? I say the metric system is for math wimps.

    And MuffinMonkey:

    I guess that’s why the Americans were copying all of the Soviet engineering marvels… OH WAIT! It was the Soviets doing the copying. That’s right!

  12. on 12 May 2007 at 3:23 pm Steve

    The british only use mph on their signage, the excuse for not changing them being confusion for those who received no education in the metric system. That implies the children *are* learning the metric system in schools.

    The signage transition to metric has been scheduled and canceled since the 70s. They’re required by EU law to change the signs as well, so look for that transition soon.

    In doing any calculations or engineering work they most likely use metric.

    As for Liberia and Myanmar…if that’s the standard by which you want to compare the United States of America… “Well Myanmar is doing it!” – not a great endorsement.

  13. on 20 Sep 2007 at 3:51 am Tim

    An interesting post I found about nuclear ships from the cold war!!

    Nuclear Ships of the Cold War


  14. on 17 Nov 2007 at 6:59 pm Fred Fep

    The New York Central used old B-47 jet turbines, they were used to power the wheels and gears on this mocked up Budd RDC car. The jets did not provide the propulsion. The front cowcatcher was put there for weight, the turbines faced slightly forward and down to also provide a sort of ballast. This took place on a straight stretch of track outside Cleveland. The center diesel of this car was removed for this experiment c. 1965, two runs were made, the car purportedly came off the ground at grade crossings. It was done to set the record, and was taken apart and the RDC returned tos ervice. The NY central took this experiment to also announce they would be dropping all intercity passenger trains over 200 miles in distance including the 20th Centrury Limited.

    The Russian experiment looks like it converteda streamline streetcar and that it used its jets for propulsion.

  15. on 13 Feb 2009 at 1:15 pm Dean Richardson

    My recollection is a bit different re. the ‘when’ and the ‘where’ of this event. I think the picture above was taken at one of the trial runs near Collingwood,OH, the home of NY Central’s Research Center. I believe I can see Lake Erie in the picure’s background. I think the ‘where’ of the actual speed record was the section of N.Y. Central’s tracks from Batavia, NY to Buffalo, NY where the tracks are (were then) the longest straight, flat, section of track in the whole USA and with almost nothing aside the tracks but farm land. The Collingwood section is/was very congested. Track from Batavia to Depew is 30 miles strait as a string! I think this is the section where NY Central’s research team made the speed run record sometime in 1965. (The ‘closing’ with the Pensylvania RR I recall happening in July 1965 just as I was leaving.) I remember nothing about a “cold war contest” with the Russians. I do remember that Stuart Saunders (Pennsy CEO)had announced that they were working on a jet driven train and this made Alfred Perlman (Central’s CEO) go “Bananas” because he always wanted to be “first” with all the latest RR technology. He called J.J. Wright the Dir. of the Central’s Reasearch Lab. in Collingwood, OH and told him to get a “Jet Train” working ASAP. In about a month Wright and team “obtained” the 2-engine pod used on SACs B-47s.(Central’s Lab. did engine oil analysis for SAC’s fleet so they new the “who & where”). They disconnected the brakes from air tanks and wheels from the traction motors so there would be zero chance of accidental brake application or drag. (I never heard that the propulsion was via the wheels and can’t imagine how that could have done that so short a time.) They turned off the automatic braking system for the Batavia to Buffalo track section and had photographers & crossing guards with walkie/talkies at all cross-over points to stop cross-track traffic.(The Budd-Car went too fast for the signal system to work properly) Off they went on the welded rail, set a record, had a press release announcing their new JET Train and back went the Budd-Car to the barn in Collingwood never to be seen again.

    Dean Richardson, Chief Systems Analyst NYC RR 1962-63. Mgr,NYC Transportation Computer Center, 1964 – 65.

    P. S. This was not the first experiment with jet engines on the Central. In 1960-62 the Lab. mounted an engine from a T-33 onto the front section of a caboose – where the office part of the cabin had been removed. The engine was mounted on a pivot post and could be controlled (aimed) by an operator sitting in the observation cap on the backside of the caboose. They used the rig to blow snow off tracks in the switch yard at Black Rock. (Really noisy!) It didn’t last long because the jet rig blew out almost as much ballast as snow which clogged the switch points etc.

  16. on 23 Feb 2010 at 4:31 pm Martin

    Wow what an eye saw! 😀 both the Soviet and US train (: The Soviet train looks a lot like some kind of old inter city train with a jet engine 😀 and the US train looks the same, but with a front looking like some late steam train.
    The germans definately thought of aerodynamics in their design, the Schienenzeppelin is even 40 years older with turboprop 142,9 mph (230 km/t) 40 years of technology earlier, practically in the maiden years of jet turbines, thats engineering! 😀
    in fact if you see it in a static increasement in speed over the years from the German Schienenzeppeli to the present fastest jet train, both the Soviet and US train had to travel at 252,2 mph.. I think this says a thing or two about German engeneering vs Soviet and US engineering, in 1937 their Mercedes F1 car was able to do 249 mph.

    I live in Denmark, realized that the US is never going to convert
    tell you a secret, it’s by far easier to use the metric system (and yes I use them both), in the imperial system you have to remember odd numbers like 3, 12, 36, 1760 and so on.. in the metric system you only have to remember the number 10, by that it makes calculating around a 100 times quicker, bonus our celcius scale also converts directly into kelvin, with no use of calculator what so ever..
    In fact (personal oppinion) I think of it a bit cave-man’ish calculating with the lenght of someones foot, the width of some guys thumb and the distance from someones fingertips to the middle of his chest(a yard)..
    But it is in fact pretty wise of the US to keep the imperial system.
    I think if we still had the imperial system in our schools, we would be roughly around 10% more in our class rooms with no understanding of math, because the imperial system REALLY IS a bit harder to deal with, then metric system, and again yes, I use them both for a living, I personally would turn crazy if I always had to use the imperial system for chemestry
    -The more you keep the plebs from wisdom, the easier it becomes the “wise” to manipulate the plebs.
    I bet if you go to a high end private school i the US, the metric system will be taught to you

    here is a conversion table I keep in mind

    1 mile = 1,6 km (roughly)
    1 Inch = 254 mm (exactly)
    1 foot = 305 mm (roughly)
    1 yard = 900 mm (roughly)

  17. […] Say No to Crack Blog Archive Cold War Silliness […]

  18. on 02 Jan 2011 at 9:45 pm jet son

    Dear Typical world party member
    Sieg Hiel
    Face it

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