The BR E 44 Electric Locomotive

The BR E 44 Electric Locomotive

By Roger Heid


Let us take a look at the famous E44 Electric Locomotive. She has quite a history behind her, spanning over nigh 60 years. She was the first electric locomotive used on the German railroad system (DRG) with more than 100 samples manufactured and put into service. She quickly became a staple on electrified lines from the 1930s into the 1980s.

At the time, they were considered a breakthrough in El Loco design. Changes and innovations were engineered for the electric drive system. Visible innovations were the absence of pilot/trailer axles and the omission of coupler rods between the drive wheels, even though; coupler rods were already missing on the E 17 from two years earlier. The E 44 also featured two 2-axle bogies, a departure from previously seen axle configurations used for locomotives of this type.


They proved to be powerful and reliable. A total of 187 samples were built, in two stages, between 1930 and 1945, and from 1950 to 1955. There were several variants produced. The axle configuration is Bo’Bo’. Top speed was rated at about 55 mph. They were used for both, passenger and freight service.


In 1933, the line between Augsburg and Stuttgart, which includes the Geislingen Grade, was electrified. The E 44 was immediately put into service as the primary loco used on that line. Based on her brilliant performance, she rapidly became employed on many other important electrified lines, throughout Germany.

During WW II, some E 44s were destroyed. After the war, all E 44s remaining in East Germany were taken by the USSR. It is reported that, after 1947, 44 of them were returned to East Germany, but they were in sad shape. They were gradually repaired and rebuilt and pressed into service, re-designated E 244. The last one was retired in 1991.

The West German DB wound up with the majority of the surviving E 44s, namely 117 samples. In fact, between 1950 and 1955, eight more were built. Restrictions imposed by the Occupational Status prohibited Germany to develop new locomotives. After 1968, all of them were re-designated BR E 144. Two of them were painted blue.


These E 44s were running all over the place, performing every kind of service they were capable of. The last ones were taken out of service in 1984. Several specimens are preserved in museums.


BR E 44.5: Based on the positive experiences with the regular E 44, the DRG ordered eight 44.5s to be built, in 1933 and 1934. They were to do service in Southern Bavaria, between Freilassing and Berchtesgaden, a rather hilly terrain. On those, the ‘snouts’ on both ends were missing, and the bogie design was different. In addition to their regular service, they also had to do some snow plowing.



Departing from Berchtesgaden in 1980

BR E 244: Not to be confused with the East German designation after 1947:  In 1936, the DRG decided to electrify the Hoellentalbahn (Hell Valley) in the Black Forest with an experimental electrical configuration, namely 20 kV 50 Hz, rather than the conventional 15 kV 16 2/3 Hz.

For this purpose, four highly modified experimental versions were designed and built, each one different from the other. They constituted technical innovations never seen before, anywhere. Their outer appearance hardly differed from the ordinary E 44s.

In 1960, the Hoellental Bahn electrical system was changed to the conventional catenary power. As a result, one of these locos was junked, three were converted to regular E 44s, one went into a museum.

Other variants:  Two more variants were merely distinguished by the addition of a letter on the name plate. The letter G indicated that this particular loco could be operated via remote control during tandem operation. The letter W meant that this one employed a newer electrical brake system.

Currently, Maerklin offers a model of this magnificent E-Lok. I do not use catenaries on my layout. But, for sheer nostalgic reasons, I will most likely get one. I will simply imagine the presence of catenaries. Why not?


Maerklin 37442

For all you DC 2-rail modelers, Trix offers it also. How about that!                                                        

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>