The Prussian T12 Steam Locomotive

The Prussian T12 Steam Locomotive

By Roger Heid


Even though the T12s were around while I was still living in West Germany, I was never lucky enough to bump into one, not even in a museum. Being an old classic, the Prussian T12 deserves a blog article, nevertheless.


Between 1902 and 1921, a total of 1,014 were built by Borsig and Union. Initially, they were delivered to the KPEV, the Prussian railroad authority, at that time. A great number was also used in the Berlin area, mostly for rapid local passenger commuter service. Upon electrification of these lines, the T12s were relegated to branch line passenger service and light short distance freight duty.

They employed a super-heated steam system; therefore they were able to reach their respectable top speed of 50 mph rather quickly. They were built for acceleration, at the cost of the distance they could travel before re-fueling was needed.

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Throughout their lifespan, they saw service in Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and Poland. In 1925, after winding up with 899 examples, the German DRG re-designated them to BR 74.4.  After WW II, both, East and West Germany wound with their share. The last remaining specimens were finally retired in 1968. Some of them were preserved in museums.


There are times when a Maerklin T12, currently available, is busy pulling a provincial passenger train on my layout when I am playing out an Era I scenario. It is a very cute train; I just love to watch it go around. The type passenger cars I use are pictured below. Roco currently offers a 2-rail DC version along with a whole bunch of suitable cars.


Maerklin 36741


Roco 62297

These locomotives make a nice addition to an Era I or II layout. There is quite a number of appropriate rolling stock available from several manufacturers, both, freight and passenger. Otherwise, not much more needs to be said about this model. It speaks for itself.


Maerklin 4035


2 Responses to The Prussian T12 Steam Locomotive

  1. William E. Weizel says:

    Trix also offered a DC version of the Era I Prussian State Railways T12 under catalog number 22853 a few years ago. Some of these might still be available through some searching on Ebay or at train shows through private sales. One of the problems with so many of the wonderful Era I models is that they often are limited editions, and if you don’t get them when they are offered, you might not get them at all!!

  2. William E. Weizel says:

    Follow-on Remarks to previous comment: A check of Trix’s website shows that additional versions of the T12/BR 74 were made, all of which are probably now sold out (ausverkauft)… These were for the following railroads:

    22854 – BR 74 – Deutsche Bundesbahn version (Era 3)
    22855 – SNCB (Belgian State Railways) version
    22856 – OBB (Austrian State Railways) version
    22858 – 130 TB SNCF – French Railways version
    22859 – BR74.10 – Deutsch Reichsbahn (Era 3) DDR period version.

    There are likely additional versions of the T12 for the same railroads within Maerklin’s line-up, and we can always hope for re-issues. Further, Fleischmann has offered diverse versions of its similar T9/BR 91 for comparison, some of which possibly may be offered in three-rail AC versions. Hope that this is helpful to those looking for specific variants…

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