HistoryIn the search for a new, fast, goods train locomotive, the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft (DRG) in 1934 was attracted by the proposal from the Berliner Maschinenbau (BMAG, formerly Louis Schwartzkopff) for a 2-8-2 (1'D1'h2) engine. The design, produced by Friedrich Wilhelm Eckhardt (1892–1961), differed from the DRG's original requirement for a 2-8-0 (1'D) engine, because the required performance with an 18 ton axle load was easier to generate on a 2-8-2 engine rather than one with a 2-8-0 wheel configuration. Continued adherence to this instruction would in the end have given the new engine no significant advantage over the Prussian goods train locomotives which were to be withdrawn. The Reichsbahn Central Office Engineering Works (RZM) eventually agreed to this proposal; the BMAG was tasked to develop the proposed design and produce two prototypes.
In January 1937 the two prototype locomotives, 41 001 and 41 002, were delivered to the DRG, who subsequently tested them thoroughly and bought them. The prototypes soon proved themselves, with their power, performance and quiet riding qualities, as well as their exceptional acceleration.
In developing the Class 41, the principle of having standard locomotives (Einheitsloks) demonstrated the financial advantages of standardization. For example, the construction costs of the engine, through the use of components from the simultaneously developed Class 03, 06 and 45 engines, was under 10,000 Reichsmark.
From October 1938, the first full-scale production Class 41 locomotives were ordered by the now renamed (since February 1937) Deutsche Reichsbahn (DRB). All the well-known locomotive manufacturers in Germany participated in the building of the locomotives, including BMAG, Borsig, Maschinenfabrik Esslingen, Henschel & Sohn, Arnold Jung Lokomotivfabrik, Krauss-Maffei, Krupp, Orenstein & Koppel and Schichau.
Unlike the prototype locomotives, corner valve pressure compensators were omitted from the production locos and Nicolai pressure compensating tubular valves (later Karl Schultz valves) were used to give a better ride when running light. On the valve gear, the normal lifting link (Hängeeisen) replaced the Kuhn slides of the prototypes which were expensive to manufacture.
As with Classes 03, 45 and 50, the 20-bar boiler, which was made of St 47 K and not a non-aging steel, soon caused major problems. As early as 1941, the DRB decreed a reduction of the permissible operating pressure to 16 bar. In this way the wear and tear on the boiler could at least be slowed down.
The axle load of the locomotive could be switched between 18 t and 20 t by inserting bolts into different sockets in the equalising beams. This was supposed to enable the locomotive to be more versatile in its use. Little or no use was made of this flexibility however. The Deutsche Bundesbahn and East German DR later left the bolts in the 18 t setting.
The locomotives were, with the exception of the prototypes, coupled to 2'2'T34 tenders. The prototypes, 41 001 and 41 002, had 2'2'T32 tenders on delivery. From their use of 20m turntables, it is also known that some engines were running with 2'2T30 tenders.
The advent of war increasingly stifled the purchase of fast goods train locomotives until, in January 1941, the existing orders were cancelled completely. On 2 June 1941, MF Esslingen delivered the last Class 41 locomotive, no. 41 352, to the DRB. With that a total of 366 engines of this class had been built in just under four years.
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