The Prussian G 8/ G 8.1 Steam Locomotives

The Prussian KPEV G 8 / G 8.1 Steam Locomotives

By Roger Heid


The G 8 was designed to pull freight for the Royal Prussian Railroad Authority (KPEV). She was the first superheated freight loco. She featured four coupled drive axles. The axle configuration is D (UIC notation); the wheel configuration was 0-8-0 (Whyte notation), no pilots and no trailer wheels. Average top speed was rated at approximately 33mph.

Probably the most significant aspect of this locomotive is that so many of them were built. Between 1902 and 1921, a total of about 5,200 samples were delivered. Now, that is a lot of locomotives. They were completed in two production runs. First, the G 8 from 1902 until 1913; then came the G 8.1, from 1913 to 1921.

Throughout the life spans of these locos, they were used in many different European countries. Their sheer numbers and the diversity of service areas make it too tedious and longwinded to cover all the details of their disposition, within the confines of this blog.


The Prussian G 8

A total of 1,054 saw the light of day. The super heater caused some problems that needed to be fixed. At the time, on most Prussian rail lines there was a 14 ton load restriction which the original design exceeded. The use of trimmed in size parts and the application of lighter materials caused additional problems. During the procurement period, many changes and modifications had to be made.


After WW I, about 350 of the remaining specimens in Germany had to be ceded to former enemies as reparations, including France and Poland.  In 1925, the DRG wound with 656 samples, now re-designated BR 55.

After WW II, the East German DR was left with 50 of them. The last one was taken out of service in 1969. The West German DB took over 205 specimens; the last one was retired in 1955. Austria took over two samples, designated OBB Class 755. They were retired in 1954 and 1957, respectively.

The Prussian G 8.1

The continuous shortfalls of the G 8 prompted the manufacturers to develop a new and improved version of this locomotive. Hence, in 1913, the G 8.1 was born. Subsequently, a total of 5,155 samples were manufactured, until 1921.


She was deliberately designed to be heavier, boasting an axle load of 17.6 tons. She could handle fairly heavy loads without the need of sanding. Her axle load, however, restricted her use to main lines designed to higher specifications. She saw very wide distribution, virtually all over the place. The bugs had been eliminated, and she proved to be a reliable and economical hard core workhorse, doing the very best she could do, within her inherent capabilities. The European landscape became ‘infested’ by them.

After WW I, the DRG took over 3,121 of these Prussian steam locomotives, now re-designated BR 55.25. Between 1934 and 1941, a total of 691 of those were equipped with a pilot axle to allow higher speeds. Those were designated BR 56.2.


After WW II, more than 1,000 were still in service. By 1968, the East German DR still had about 150 of them. There is no accurate documentation as to their final disposition that I know of. It is reported that, in 1968, the West German DB still operated 50 of them, under the designation of BR 055. The last was retired in 1972. One specimen found its resting place in a museum.

Maerklin offers two models of this locomotive.


Maerklin 47545  G 8.1


Maerklin 47548  BR 55

Trix offers the BR 56.2 version in 2-rail DC.


Trix 22563  BR 56

If you run an Era I or II, even III layout, one of them may have sneaked in without you knowing it. There were that many around, you know.


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