The Prussian P10 Steam Locomotive

The Prussian P 10 Steam Locomotive (BR 39)

By Roger Heid


The old P10 was designed by Borsig, starting in 1919. Its purpose was to haul heavy Express passenger trains in the hills of the Prussian Central Mountain region. The axle configuration was 1’D1’ (UIC notation); the wheel configuration was therefore 2-8-2 (Whyte notation), a Mikado. It was the last passenger steam locomotive the Royal Prussian Railroad Authority (KPEV) commissioned to be developed.


Model of an original KPEV  P 10


Due to some initial difficulties, including material shortages, right after WW I, it took three years for the first one to be actually delivered, namely in 1922. Subsequently, until 1927, a total of 260 specimens were built. By then, the German railroad system had become unified, now called DRG. In short order, Wagner style wind deflectors were added, and she was re-designated BR 39, the famous one.

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She was known to be the most powerful of all steam engines designed for the old German State Railroads. She was reported to be able to muster something like 1,600 to 1,700 hp. This may be somewhat over inflated. The top speed was noted to be in the vicinity of 70 mph.


BR 39 with Wagner wind deflectors

The axle load was 19.4 tons which exceeded the 17 ton standard for most German rail lines, at that time. Her use was therefore restricted to rail lines designed to higher standards. Examples are the Main-Weser Bahn (Frankfurt-Kassel), the Eifel and Black Forest regions, and last not least, the Gaubahn, from Stuttgart to Singen.

After WW II, the West German DB wound up with 175 samples, so it is said. On some of them, the Wagner type wind deflectors were replaced by the smaller Witte design, for some reason. They were gradually phased out; the last three were stabled in Stuttgart, to be finally retired in 1967. The 39 320 found her final resting place in the DB Museum, where she dreams about her days of glory.


BR 39 with Witte wind deflectors

East Germany inherited 75 samples. Considered to be indispensable, they were rebuilt and re-designated DR Class 22. There are no accurate data I can find as to the final retirement year.

Maerklin is currently offering a model of the original KPEV P 10, as seen below.


Maerklin 37939

They also offer a later model of the venerable BR 39, one of which is in my collection, of course. This one is also in the top ten of my favorites. She runs like a charm; she is truly one of the highlights in my collection.


Maerklin 39393

Off hand, I do not know of any DC 2-rail models. Hopefully, one of you can fill us in. That would be nice.

Please, do not post questions in the Blog System. Go to the Forum, instead.

Thank you.



One Response to The Prussian P10 Steam Locomotive

  1. peter martin says:

    I have the Maerklin 37939, a favorite locomotive in my humble collection.I think it was one of Borsig’s finest designs and it still looks like much later designs. The model is digital and is real sound machine! In fact it can drown on other engines on the layout! I had to turn down the volume. I want to stay in the I & II era so the 39393 is not in my plans, though it is a very nice model and the profile is attractive.

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