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12/01/2017

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A true legend makes its way to Train Simulator in the form of the DB BR 18, the pinnacle of German Pacific design.

Shortly after the turn of the 20th Century, locomotive designers of the Maffei company were working on a development of Germany’s first Pacific locomotive – the Baden IV f – to provide a new, more powerful iteration for express passenger service for the Royal Bavarian State Railways. Several aspects were kept from the previous model, including the concept of using a four-cylinder compound running gear that powered the second coupled axle.

The first 3 series of the new locomotive, classified as the Bavarian S 3/6, began construction in 1908 and ended in 1911, during which 23 were built. These series, lettered a to c, featured a 1870mm driving wheel diameter that allowed for equal operation on both hilly and flat terrain. In 1912, a further eighteen locomotives were produced as the d and e series, featuring larger driving wheels at 2000mm, plus a larger tender for express operation between Munich, Nuremburg & Würzburg.

Series f locomotives were produced in 1913, these were near identical to their ‘a to c’ counterparts and only 3 rolled out onto the rails. The next 10 would be built for the Palatinate network the following year, featuring dimension changes because of the shorter turntables in that area. The final batch constructed under the Royal Bavarian State Railways was the h and i series, these 35 locomotives were built throughout World War I to aid in the effort.

In the 1920s, the Deutsche Reichsbahn were still yet to design their standard locomotives; because of this, DR continued to order S 3/6s, or as they were re-classified, ‘DR BR 18s’, from Maffei and 30 of the k series were constructed in 1923 and 1924. The k series were fitted with a larger superheater, making them more powerful, and featured modified driver windows. Several of the k series were supplied to Wiesbaden engine shed from where they would haul the famous Rheingold Express.

Further DR BR 18s were ordered in the late 1920s, these were the l, m, n and o series and would be the last to join the rails. Each would improve on the last in one way or another, from superheaters and cylinders to tenders. Maffei would only reach as far as 2 engines into the n series before going bankrupt, leaving Henschel to take over for the rest of the fleet. By 1931, the final DR BR 18 had been delivered – 159 locomotives in total since 1908 was a fantastic achievement, outnumbering all other Bavarian State Pacific designs combined.

The 1950s, Deutsche Bundesbahn is now in command of the railways and the DR BR 18s have been subtly reclassified as DB BR 18s. DB decided to modernise 30 of the BR 18.5 engines (from the i to o series) by fitting new boilers with combustion chambers, a new driver’s cab and a multiple-valve superheated steam regulator. By 1957, the last of the modernised DB BR 18.5s (now numbered 18.6s) entered service; a new lease of life was breathed into the locomotives, being able to compete with the BR 01 in performance and be unmatched in efficiency.

By the 1960s, many of the older locomotives were in or near their 6th decade of service. A fault in the rebuilt engines caused cracks, and required a reduction to their power. With this, the ‘60s would be the end of the line for the DB BR 18 fleet. The modified variants began withdrawal first, starting in 1961, followed by most of the others the next year, the last of which were scrapped by 1966. One locomotive, 18 505, remained in service until 1967 – this was one of a handful of DB BR 18s which survived into preservation. Several locomotives saw some life as heating engines after main line withdrawal, 18 602 was based at Saarbrücken and provided heat until 1983. 18 602 was mostly scrapped, however her wheelsets can still be admired at Saarbrücken Hbf.

The DR BR 18 is an Iron Horse with a legacy unlike many others. A locomotive series that remained in production for a quarter of a century, and hauled top link expresses for the entirety of its prime. What better way than to re-live the heyday of German steam with the legend that is the DR BR 18, thanks to Partner Programme developer, Eisenbahnwerk, is ready for service on the stunning Mosel Valley: Koblenz – Trier route!
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