N scale military layout

Phil’s been in touch with his N scale military layout:

“Hi Alastair

I have been following your posts for ages but this is my first response.

It was Andy’s WW2 railway that inspired me to post.

Just before I retired my wife gave me the Bachmann Ambulance Train set which recreated the ambulance trains of the First World War.

Like many I had an N gauge layout when I was a kid but nothing in-between. This gift allowed me to combine three of my interests railways, WW1 and with DCC the opportunity to use computer control.

Over the last 5 years I have created three layouts that have successively used 1/3 of the room, 2/3 of the room and finally the whole room.

The last version was my covid lockdown project and so far has not got much beyond baseboard construction track laying and testing.

Since I retired I am now on my third iteration of a railway based in southern England sometime in 1917/18.

The first half of the video is the second incarnation of the railway and the second of the third version very much work in progress.


N scale military layout

N scale military layout

N scale military layout

N scale military layout

N scale military layout

N scale military layout

When it comes to militaty layouts, William’s Railroad to military base springs to mind.

And now on to Bob, who has been kind enough to answer your questions on his fab layout (which you can see here).

“Al… I just wanted to acknowledge all the folks who took the time to comment on my layout. I really appreciate their comments, suggestions and questions. For those who expressed an interest, I will send another post shortly describing the design, construction and operation of the layout. I also hope to include a video.

Thanks to Dan, Tony and William for their comments regarding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. My father was an avid fly fisherman and he took me trout fishing to Lemon Reservoir just north of Durango, Colorado, or to Red River, New Mexico at least once every summer. So, I had the privilege of riding both trains many times. The scenery is magnificent.

Dan also mentioned the resemblance of my layout to the Thomas Kincade Christmas tree sculpture. I had not thought about it until Dan’s comment, but it may have been a subconscious influence on my design since I do know the piece well. Thanks to Mal for sharing the information about Totnes Castle. I plan to put a 1:160 scale model of the castle atop my next N scale layout.

Will, your brother’s plan to build a terraced N scale layout with each level representing a different season of the year is inspired. I wish I had thought of it. I would love to see it when it is finished. He should post photographs on Al’s blog.

And, Frank, I am so glad your wife would approve of my layout. That is surely the most meaningful comment of all.

Al…thanks again,


A big thanks to Bob and Phil for sharing his N scale military layout.

It’s still wonderful to see such variety in my inbox each morning.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to make that very first step with your very own layout.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

19 Responses to N scale military layout

  1. Robert Johnson says:

    Loved the video of the trains running around the layout!

  2. Bob Amling, NJ says:

    Nice job Phil, great model work and pictures.
    A little curious about the picture with the wall in front of the airport. Is that a view block camouflage?

  3. Phil you have done a great job there with your layout for the Ambulance train set , good luck with the new one …Dangerous Dave

  4. Elmer Banks says:

    Very nice to see the very beginning of a layout. Shows how a plan comes together. If it is going to be functional, trackage needs planned and tested. Otherwise you have no clue as to running the railroad. Once the trains run well, then you can do the building and scenery, based on the track plan. I was in a hurry to get mine running in any direction. Then started putting in the buildings, etc. Re-doing the plan to make running sense means moving lots of trackage. I’ve been able to use lots of the downloaded buildings to mitigate the costs of my mistakes. Now I can operate a railway, not just run trains in ovals. MAKE AND KEEP A PLAN.

  5. Phil Mayhew says:

    Hi Bob. The airdrome in the picture was on the upper level of the layout and to be honest was a bit squeezed in. The red brick wall in front was the divide between upper and lower levels. The blue sky screen at back was the divide between the scenic and non scenic parts of layout. Hope that explains the picture. Phil

  6. Phil says:

    Hi Elmer. Good advice. The reason this is the third layout is because I have learned from my mistakes. I probably played with plan for this layout for 2 months on computer I still made some modifications when laying track as you can’t visualise everything on plan.

  7. John Barton says:

    Hi Al just watched a video about the Soledo climb railway. This is the first time I have made any comments. I am a railway enthusiast which spans from railways all the way to model railways.I did have a 00 gauge model railway set up in my garage in North Wales based on a block sigaling system which constantly modified in Spring. If I can find the photos of it I will post them on. I was all controlled from a formica board with Peco point motors using a modified Bic pen holder and spot soldered contacts on the board. It included a reversing loop with double pole change over switches. All analogue control upto 3 control areas. I do miss it and would love to start again. Your newsletters keep me interested. Thanks Al keep it going. Cheers.

  8. Terry Foster says:

    Love the video ,you have done a great job keep up the good work.

  9. Love what you have done, like the period everything, mine has stalled with the wiring being complex,

  10. Alabama Mike says:

    Great layout Phil. I enjoyed the video very much.

  11. Great work Phil, the WW1 theme interests me, but too committed time/$$ in other time periods. You have really hit the subject well.

  12. Dave Stanwick says:

    Nice Phil.
    Entirely unplanned,I wander down the heavy railway gun route.Some were built in Newcastle from heavy guns taken from Japanese cruisers under construction on the Tyne.
    An hospital train seems a logical addition.Thank you,Dave

  13. Brian Rockey says:

    Hi Phil, Lovely job with the WW1 themed layout, and good clear photos. Excellent.
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  14. Erick says:

    Looks good,

  15. Robert Bouskill says:

    I love the photos where just the tracks are on the board in the beginning. in real life however the sidings look like there would be thirty feet or more between the tracks and in real life that much real estate was never available. In yards there is usually only five or six feet between parked trains. Never the less to model railroad in very nice and it is fun to watch. My days of building roads are ending now as I turn 77 in a few days.

  16. Red says:

    Is that a cork bed over the entire layout?
    I used 1” foam board on my layout! With the Woodland Scenics track bed it keeps the trains quiet!
    It also makes for easy scenery detail!
    Thanks for your informative and detailed posts! Keep ‘em coming!

  17. Richard Boles says:

    Great job Phil. Love the WWI theme.

  18. There used to be one of those trapezoidal tanks at the Aberdeen proving grounds in MD back when they had the outdoor tank museum there. I think it’s at Fort A.P. Hill in VA now, but i could be wrong. They were enormous.

  19. THOMAS says:

    Thank You for running your trains !

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