The BR 81 Steam Locomotive

The BR 81 Steam Locomotive

By Roger Heid


The Class BR 81 was introduced in 1928. It was intended to gradually replace the BR 80 which had just been introduced the year before. In many details it matched the BR 80. The most significant changes were the addition of another drive axle, making it a 0-8-0 or D, and a larger heating area which increased the total length by about 3 feet. It also carried more coal and water giving it a slightly longer operating range.

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The axles were rigid mounted; the flanges of the center wheels were thinner to accommodate curves. They were used for light to medium freight and shift yard duties in the Goslar and Oldenburg areas in Northern Germany. The top speed was rated at a mere 28 mph, slow, but it could pull a respectable load.


By 1940, Hanomag had delivered a total of 10 specimens. The planned procurement of 60 additional samples was cancelled due to WW II. After 1945, all of them were taken over by the West German DB. The last one was taken out of service in 1963. The 81 005 was sold to a private company to continue doing duty on an industrial yard. The only one preserved was the 81-004. It was put on display at the Hessen Courrier Society.

Maerklin and Fleischman are offering models of the BR 81 in 3-rail and 2-rail versions, respectively. I have one of them on my wish list. It will make a nice addition to the BR 89 and the BR 80, both of which I already have. There is already a short freight train waiting for it.

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