An abandoned Soviet-era dream project – a JET TRAIN that would outrun the fastest mode of land transport. Now all it is, is a pile of junk, withering away in time.
Built in the 1970’s, the Soviet ‘turbojet rail-car’ was capable of speeds up to 160mph. The jet engines fixtures on top sure looked futuristic, but the major impracticality was the high fuel consumption.Thus the project was abandoned and the ‘Jet Train’ left in a time capsule in which it sits to this very day.
A similar Jet Train built by American engineer Don Wetzel, unlike it’s counterpart is still the fastest locomotive in America. Wetzel was given the task of making train travel cheaper and faster. What Wetzel produced was the M-147 Black Beetle – the first of it’s kind – jet powered locomotive. It comprised of three essential units: a Budd Rail Diesel Car – RDC-3, a streamlined front cowling, and a pair of used GET J47-19 jet engines.
An American M-147 Black Beetle – Don Wetzel, 1966
Wetzel and his team purchased the jet engines as a pair for $5000 from the U.S. Air Force. And according to a report he gave GE, it was the cheapest 5000 HP engine that they could find. “Wetzel tested his creation on existing tracks between Butler, Indiana and Stryker, Ohio, because the long, flat and straight stretch of track was perfect to test a train traveling at speeds previously unheard of for a locomotive.” – [DailyMail]. His prototype hit speeds of 183mph and still holds the record for being the fastest self-propelled light-train in the USA.
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