A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

May 20, 2014

WWI layout

As part of the book I recently finished for Kalmbach Publishing, I built a small (3 by 6 feet) layout in 00/009 scale depicting the railroad activity leading up to the Battle of Cambrai.

Despite the horrific fighting, the European theater of WWI makes a compelling subject for a model railroad. An intense level of standard and narrow gauge railroad activity supporting the field armies presents many operational challenges, while the ruined villages and battle scarred trenches require a different kind of scenic treatment. This model railroad features the railroads of WWI before the Battle of Cambria in the fall of 1917. The first mass use of tanks and aircraft get most of the attention in historic accounts of the Battle of Cambrai, but the innovative offensive depended on extensive and carefully planned American railroad support.  The layout focuses on the 11th and 12th United States Engineers near the town Fins during the build up to the Battle of Cambrai.

For the rest of this fascinating story you will have to wait until January 2015, when the book is released. In the meantime check out this short video featuring the layout.


  1. AnonymousMay 22, 2014

    Excellent! Can't wait to read the book and hopefully see the module/layout at MARPM 2014! Thanks for sharing, Bernie!

  2. if all goes according to plan, I have a different layout/diorama to bring to MARPM.

  3. Nicely done, and timely, too. as Memorial Day and the centennial of the start of The War to End All Wars approach.

    Bravo Zulu, Bernie!

  4. From Mud, through Blood, to the Green Fields Beyond

  5. AnonymousMay 31, 2014

    Very inspiring model work. I've been spending so much time building WWI ships that I have neglected work on my N-scale WWI layout.

  6. NCC1717 - can you tell us more about your WWI layout?

  7. Very interesting. We cover very similar areas in our respective WWI projects.

    If I do another WWI layout I would do either the Cambrai area but focus on the standard gauge activity on 00/009 with the narrow gauge less emphasis, or a O14 model of the US sector in 1918 as we advanced through German lines.