French railways circa 1918 consisted of 6 or 7 different private companies
and one state owned company. (until about 1938 from memory)
As such there wasn't a "standard" French goods wagon.
However, after a quick flick through a few of the web sites US states
exhibits it would appear that all the wagons are of one type.
Jouef once made a very poor representation of a very similar wagon.
It had the sliding doors inside the body sides instead of outside and
abysmal representations of the buffers etc.
It was about the right proportions and had the typical ventilators.
I have the colour schemes and lettering filed away somewhere, but you'd
need to work out which railway they should be lettered for,
("40 and 6" surely?)
After WW I there was a 'common bureau to study railroad rolling stock' in
France: OCEM. The first cars appeared about 1928. These cars were common
to all roads, besides lettering. They were followed by coaches.
Besides that was there a large stock of US produced cars, of which the
'TP' were the most known. Some survive, still. They rode on archbar
trucks. AFAIK were there also 2-axle cars made in US.
you are of course quite correct but of course OCEM is too late for a gift
immediately after WWI.
Fleischmann makes beautiful models of many of the TP series wagons, but
those were brand new
in 1919-20. There were certainly 2 axle wagons built in the US for Europe
(see Tillig, Roco and Klein Model Bahn for excellent models) but that was
If there were 2 axle wagins built in the US I'd like to hear about them!
There may well be French cottage industries making suitable models, but
I'm on the other side of
the world and not aware of them :-(
The nearest I can come up with of the same proportions are the Fleischmann
ex Prussian wagons,
but of course to anyone knowledgable in such matters they shout "German
(I can find the catalogue numbers of those if required)
Ooops, the French train was shipped in 1948/9, not 1918.
However, the train consisted of pre WWI wagons, quote:
"The box cars themselves were antiques by 1949, having
been built between the years of 1872 and 1885, ..."
I looked at the pictures of the Merci Train. These boxcars could be built
between 1872 and 1948, as far as I can see. There was no evolution in
building these cars, except for the dimensions of the frames and buffers.
The general shape was unaltered. The older ones tend to be lower, and
shorter.. The lateral ventilation devices give me the idea that these cars
were built well after WW I, and no way in the 19th century..
I have no references at hand to prove this, so I may be wrong.
That leaves open the possibility that these cars were constructed in 1948
on chassis dated 1885..
It seems strange that they are all (apparently) exactly the same when they
circa 70 years old! One would expect a different design from each works and
odd changes during repairs over 70 years.
I have scale drawings of the OCEM wagons from circa 1928 and they are not
small as the Merci wagons appear to be.
The OCEM wagon drawings show pressed steel ventilators - probably the same
pressing as UIC wagons!