Steam Noir

The Creations of William Wardrop

U.S.L.I. Snapping Turtle

The year is 1863, the date July 1, the place Gettysburg Pennsylvania; the dawn of the new day and a new form of war. The U.S. Land Ironclad 'Snapping Turtle' prepares to go into battle. Warming up its twin 250h.p. traction engines in preparation for its first combat sortie the armored giant tests its turret mechanism and takes on coal from its screw drive tender the Muskrat.


The Turtle is armed with one 10in. 20 pound Armstrong Whitworth breech loading main gun in a turret mount with a range of 4828 yards with loads of canister, high-explosive and Stafford sub-caliber bolts for armor-piercing. In the tail sets a Armstrong Whitworth rifled breech loading 12 pounder and on her flanks are four 12 pounder cannonades to ward off any attempts at boarding. With its ground clearance at 6ft. and its 4-wheel drive and 6-wheel steering; this behemoth can go almost anywhere on the battle field .


For anti-personnel work she has two Williams 1.5 caliber machine cannon and two Vanderbilt 50 caliber, 80 barrel, Volley Guns. On the top level set 4 Hale Rocket launchers for breaking up Calvary charges Since the turtle lives up to her name and has a maximum speed of just 7miles per hour taking out the Calvary is very important.


Much is expected of this new armored warrior will she break the back of the confederacy or be over taken by events?

The Snapping Turtle Backstory

The Snapping Turtle was created for a challenge given to me by Richard Waskul who was one of my coworkers at ASC. He wanted us to make 'Steampunk' tanks using technology no later than 1860. This was a challenge I could not turn down but soon wished I had. It was grueling with Rick on me all the time about being ‘true to the technology of the time’ and always rushing me in an attempt to unnerve me and lessen my work. This tactic made me wish to beat him all the more and show absolutely no mercy! Wednesday, April 29, 2011 was the battle... I finished the Turtle at 2:00 that morning and brought it in to work for set up. It has a full interior with all engines and guns detailed and accessible and over one-thousand rivets on the hull. It was a lot of work but it turned out well and when our tanks were judged by everyone at work, I won by a landslide.


This marks the first time I have had one of my models photoshoped to look real. It was done by a talented man by the name of Josiah LaColla; he kind of surprised me with it. I had to leave my model on display at work where Josiah took pictures of her and worked his magic. The next day I came in the door and saw the picture he used to make a 'Do not touch' sign and it was beautiful! I had to have it for the site. He said yes and also gave me the address of his site Go see it and be amazed.


I was a little upset with Rick for all his shenanigans during the contest, but he has since passed away and I miss him dearly and wouldn't even mind hearing another bad pun from him. (Well... maybe not.) A memorial website was set up for him to show some of his works at


Thanks’ for watching.


William Wardrop

Archemedes Screw Steam Engine "The Muskrat"

The "Muskrat" is a concept utilizing the technology availabe during the American Civil War which features the opposed screw drive. With extensive sabotage and damage to the rail infrastructure during the war, this steam powered vehicle would have allowed travel through swamps and fields of 19th century America. Designed as an artillery hauler and support for the "Snapping Turtle'. This vehicle would have perfomed similarly to an army tank in the field; on paved roads or firm surfaces however, it would have the tendancy to sidewind.

British War Cart 1855

The British War Cart was an 19th Century concept for a steam-powered army tank. It was originally equipped with full armor plating to protect its occupants. Unfortunately, the ratio of weight to engine power made it nescessary to strip away the armor. Even with the weight reduction, the belt-driven engine would only allow the cart to move at a mans walking pace. It was suggested that the cart could attain greater speed if the cannons were removed as well. However, it was duly noted that a war machine without weapons or armor wasn't much of a war machine, so the project was scrapped.

The General

This steam engine is the most famous in American history. It was stolen by a team of Northern spies led by James J. Andrews during the American Civil war on April 12, 1862. His plan was to take the train northward to meet up with Major General Ormsby M. Mitchel in Chattanooga, Tennessee during which time he and his raiders would tear up track, burn bridges, destroy switches and cut down telegraph wires.

On the morning of April 12th, Andrews along with 21 of his men hijacked the General while it was stopped at Big Shanty (now Kennesaw), Georgia. What followed was the "Great Locamotive Chase" as Andrews and his men were persued by William Allen Fuller who witnessed the theft while having breakfast. At first on foot, then by handcar and finally by using two different steam engines; Fuller relentlessly chased after Andrews and his "Raiders" all the way up to just a few miles out of Chattanooga. Due to Fullers efforts; Andrews Raiders had failed to accomplish their mission. Andrews and all of his men were caught; including two that had missed the hijacking due to oversleeping. Andrews was executed as a spy by hanging on June 7th in Atlanta. On June 18th seven other of the raiders were convicted and executed as spies.

Between 1863 and 1883 nineteen of Andrews Raiders recieved the Medal of Honor for their heroic efforts. The General now rests in the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia. This model of The General is now on permanent display at the museum.

Glover Mining Locomotive

Made by the Glover Machine works in Marietta Georgia, this low slung locomotive was used as a ore hauler in the tunnels of a mine. Being no more than four feet tall at its highest point; this engine made the driver sit on the floor of the cab to fit in. It had to be a smokey job too with that low stack and coal fuel.

No. 18 Cliffside Glover

Very little information exists on this Locomotive made in 1923 for passenger service with the Cliffside Rail Road and still in service in 1940 when the last order for parts was processed with Glover. The model is now on display at The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive history in Kennesaw GA.

Coulbourn Bros. Locomotive

This is a small Mogul locomotive that was used as a lumber hauler in the back woods of Georgia.This Model is now part of the permanent collection of the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw GA.

Steam Traction Engine

This steam powered tractor was used to haul supplies and cannons in South Africa during the Boer War (1899-1902). It became necessary to cover the passenger comartments in armor plate to protect its drivers and troop carriers behind it. It met with some success as a tactical vehicle in support of the supply lines and is considered by many historians to be the predecessor to the army tank.

U.S. Army Seep & DUKW (Duck)

These models were first made by my father, William Wardrop in 1945 when he was a high schooler in Detroit, Michigan. The kits were made of pine and sold by his woodshop teacher to get some extra cash for dating on Saturday night. He made the base kit and painted it olive drab with black wheels. After my father married and had kids, he let us play with the models. BIG MISTAKE!!! My brothers and I were (and still are) destructive little demons. In no time at all, the models were little more than the blocks of wood my father started with. In 1992 I found what was left of this car and the larger truck and decided to repair it as a surprise for my dad. The hull and the seats are all that was left of the original models, all other parts are of my own making and are as accurate as possible. It took 40 hours to repair, repaint and make new wheels for both models, but it was worth it to see my dad's face when he realized what they were. He then told me the history of this car and the larger one below.

U.S. Army Seep

The DUKW or Duck is the amphibious version of the GM 2-1/2 ton cargo truck. It was developed for the U.S. army during the Second World War to deliver cargo from ships at sea to shore. It was a very successful concept and was in service for a good 20 years. The Seep was not as sea-worthy as the DUKW and was mostly used inland for river crossing. However, one highly modified car did circumnavigate the world in 1957 for the National Geographic magazine .  The howitzer in the cargo hold of the DUKW is my own fancy and can not be considered accurate. I just wanted something in the hold to show its use.

DUKW Amphibious truck

I remember playing war with these models in our sandbox when I was five or six and tossing dirt clods at them to simulate mortar rounds going off. I am ashamed of myself for the carnage (But at the time it was a blast!) I hope that fixing them up again will get me back some of my lost karma.


Iron Mole

The Iron Mole was a concept created by the German's to tunnel under the enemy trenches and resurface on the other side, thus creating a tunnel for outflanking the enemy. Its initial boring test was successful, however, the tunnel it created proved to be unstable and collapsed on the soldiers that tried to move through it.

Here the Iron Mole is shown ready for operation. Although it failed as an effective tunneling device, it could have been turned into a land-based torpedo system with further development. Fortunately, the war ended before its full potential was recognized. 

40/8 Merci Boxcar

This French wooden box car of 1880 was used to transport Allied troops and supplies in both WWI and WWII. Many GIs have fond and not so fond (Nightmarish) memorys of these cold wet and noisome rat traps.The name 40/8 refers to 40 Men or 8 horses and looking at it one wonders how they would fit; be they man or horse.

At the end of WWII the people of France wanted to give a gift to the U.S. people for their support in liberating them from the Nazis. Citizens from all over France filled 49 of these boxcars with momentos and gifts painted them up and gave to each of the 48 states and one to Washington D.C. In my home state of Michigan we still have our boxcar in somewhat good shape, although it's missing it's truck and wheels, but noone seems to know what happend to the gifts that were inside. The Merci Boxcars were a touching gesture on the part of the French people especially since they were all given without government help.

This model is now on permanent display at The Southern Museum of Civil war and Locomotive history in Kennesaw GA