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I doubt this was a font in 1939. Looks like the creation of a rather uninspired lettering artist -- perhaps a lab technician who could be spared from thawing ice samples -- who may have worked with a crude stencil and filled in the gaps. You can get pretty close if you use Flatsider JNL http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/jnlevine/flatsider/ clip off the extra bits on C, G and J and reverse the Z to make S.
I agree, it does look hand-lettered.
Not the work of a lab technician though - the Snow Cruiser was built in the US by the Pullman Company and left the factory fully painted.
Flatsider JNL looks like a great starting point.
Thanks for your help!