AIRBORNE BEER is a brew originally created to celebrate the story of an American soldier during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium during World War II.

The Ready Made Trains AIRBORNE BEER 36ft wood side reefer car is painted in original US ARMY olive drab green.

This AIRBORNE BEER 36ft Wood Side Reefer car is a Ready Made Trains exclusive Limited Edition issue and available only from authorized toy train hobby shop dealers.

NOTE: 300 different unique roadNUMBERs are available for 86131.


A helmet full of beer....

During the Battle of the Bulge, machine gunner Vincent Speranza from H Company, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division became a legend for the unlikeliest of reasons – and only learned about it 65 years later.

He was born on March 23, 1925, in Hell’s Kitchen, New York and grew up on Staten Island in a large immigrant Italian family from Sicily. He was drafted and entered service at the end of 1943. He got his training at Fort Benning in Georgia with the 87th Infantry Division. After seeing an airborne training jump demonstration, he immediately volunteered to become a paratrooper. He and his comrades were transported to the United Kingdom on board of the RMS Queen Mary, a British ocean liner under American control. They joined the fight as replacements after the disastrous Operation Market Garden in September 1944. On December 16, 1944, Germany launched a surprise counteroffensive against the Allies through the Ardennes, encircling the town of Bastogne, held by undersupplied American troops. The 101st arrived from France on trucks in a hurry without proper winter equipment. This was Esperanza’s first combat action. With most of their medical supplies and personnel captured in the attack, the defenders set up a small, makeshift aid station in a church, where the wounded were laid out on the floor wrapped in curtains and bedspreads scavenged from all around. The main hospital of the division was at a school on the other end of the main street and at Heinz Barracks (currently Bastogne Barracks). Further down the road, the 10th Armored Division had its aid station where two Belgian nurses, the Angels of Bastogne, worked with Battalion Surgeon Dr. Jack T. Prior.

During a lull in the fighting, Speranza was sent back to town by his platoon sergeant for some radio batteries. Once there, he visited his wounded friend Joe Willis in the church, who asked him to go and find him something to drink. Speranza was doubtful he could find any booze in the middle of a siege, but he agreed to go looking in the local abandoned taverns. Eventually, he found a still-working beer tap in the second tavern. There were no intact glasses anywhere though, so he took his helmet – the same one he would use as a foxhole toilet on the frontline – filled it with beer and took it back to share it with Joe and the other wounded. His comrades quickly urged him to go and get a second round, but once he had a refill, he was stopped in the church door by the regimental surgeon, a major. Speranza said that he was only “bringing aid and comfort to the wounded” but the surgeon berated Speranza for bringing alcohol to people with chest and stomach wounds, who might die from drinking it, and angrily dismissed him. Speranza rapidly saluted, put on his helmet – pouring the beer on himself – and ran back to the front line.

Just like on his way to Europe, he got back to New York on board of the RMS Queen Mary. After the war, he started a family and became a history teacher and did not think much about anything related to the war. The real twist in the story came 65 year later when he, at the age of 85, met a Belgian woman from Bastogne in a gun store who encouraged him to go back to Bastogne to see for himself that the locals still remember what the 101st did for them during the war. Thus, accompanied by his daughter, he returned to Bastogne for the first time after the war. To their surprise, they found a store with WWII memorabilia, where they met a Dutch and a Belgian soldier who were happy to meet a veteran. They took them to the former battlefields around the city. After visiting the foxholes Speranza and his comrades occupied, they went back to town for a drink with their guides and started sharing war stories with each other. When he told the story of the helmet full of beer, the soldiers were incredulous, exclaiming “Don’t you know you’re famous in Europe?” The story of the G.I. bringing beer in his helmet for the wounded was well-known in Bastogne, but everyone assumed it to be a mere legend. Speranza, in turn, was surprised not only by his new-found fame, but also by what the waiter brought them: a local brew called “Airborne Beer” served in ceramic pots shaped like a helmet.

Vince Speranzal turned 97 earlier in 2023, his plan is to go on tirelessly and tell his story and the reason why and for what he fought with his fellow soldiers in the war. Since Speranza stands for hope in Italian, let us express our hope that he will be with us for many more years to educate people about what happened during World War II and why it is important to fight for freedom. In conclusion, let us finish with his words while running an AIRBORNE BEER 36ft wood side reefer car on your o-gauge 3-rail model railroad as “A toast to all the good people in the world”.