The Norfolk and Western Railway was a coal-hauling line of modest extent, with most of its trackage in three states: Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio. Yet among railfans and modelers, the N&W has achieved recognition far out of proportion to its size. One reason was the N&W's loyalty to steam. Modern reproductions aside, the last steam locomotives made in the United States were built in the N&W's Roanoke shops, and as late as 1955 there was not a single diesel on the property.
A second reason is what N&W fans call the "holy trinity of steam": Classes J, Y6, and A, arguably three of the finest steamers ever made. The Class A 2-6-6-4 was perhaps as close to a perfect all-around locomotive as was ever built. Smooth, fast, and powerful, the A was a greyhound that could race a heavy passenger train along at 70 mph or hustle 200 loaded hoppers over level track. The 43 Class A engines built from 1936-50, along with contemporaries like the UP Challenger and C&O Greenbrier, were the tail end of the "super-power" era of steam technology, in which the external combustion engine was refined to its finest form. After the A and its contemporaries came only futile attempts to stop the onslaught of the diesel.
The Class A returns to the Premier line in 2015, offered for the first time with Proto-Sound 3.0 and featuring additional detailing and upgraded sounds - and ready to haul your longest freight or passenger consists. Our models of engines 1238 and 1240 typify the last five engines of the class, which were the only articulated steamers equipped with roller-bearing main and side rods.