Trip on a V 221 Diesel Locomotive

Trip in a V 221 Diesel Locomotive

By Roger Heid


In an earlier blog, I told a little story about me riding on a V 200 Diesel Locomotive. Now you need to know, that in 1968 it was re-designated V 220. The V 221 is a more powerful version thereof.


Way back when

In July of 1974, a Boeing 747 delivered me from the McGuire Airbase in New Jersey to the Frankfurt Airport in West Germany. I was about to start a lengthy tour in Germany, having to spend the first night at the 21st Replacement Battalion.

download (6)

Frankfurt Airport

Early the following day, dressed in freshly starched Class B Khaki Uniform, I was bused to the Frankfurt Hbf. (Hbf -> Hauptbahnhof -> Main Train Station). I was to catch a train to Stuttgart Hbf, an RTO ticket in my pocket. (RTO -> Rail Transportation Office)

download (3)

download (5)download (1)

Frankfurt Hbf  (Main Station)

There were about 15 minutes to kill before departure. Following an old habit, I walked to the front of the train to see what kind of locomotive I would have the honor to be pulled by.  I was met by a familiar sight.  I had ridden in one of those, more than 10 years earlier. Back then, it was labeled V 200, but now I saw the number 221 on the name plate. This must be a newer version, I thought.

download (4)

V 221

The old desires from my youth and adolescence started to take hold of my inner soul. I felt the urge to ride on this one, just to see what the difference between the V 200 and the V 221 would be. The dignity of my relatively old age of 30 and my current status as a uniformed MP strongly suggested I should refrain from any attempt to solicit a ride. I felt like being squeezed between the proverbial rock and the dreaded hard place. I should not have walked to the front of the train.

My thoughts were interrupted by a neatly uniformed man, the engineer. He displayed a very friendly smile on his face. This looked promising. He seemed to be an easy prey. Before I had a chance to humbly approach him with my yearning, he looked me square in my face and said, in plain American English:

“I bet you have never seen one like this before. Isn’t she a beauty?”

Somehow, I was not surprised, even though, to me he did not look old enough to have been a POW, captured by the US Army and hauled to some camp in the US of A.

“Well, yes Sir, I have. It was a V 200 and I even got to ride on it. You see, I was in Germany before.”

“Are you going to Stuttgart?”

“Yes Sir! Kelley Barracks.”

Suddenly, the engineer grabbed my duffel bag and shoved it inside the loco.

“Come on. Let’s go for a ride,” he gleefully announced. Only seconds later, the train took off, accelerating harder than I had expected.

I could hardly believe what was happening. How lucky could I get? This was one trip I was going to savor. I did. The dashboard looked a little different, and the subdued sound coming from the Diesel engines spoke of more authority. The seat was more comfortable, and the ride was smoother. I felt very content.

Somewhere along the line I asked:

“Sir, I am just wondering why you invited me in without me having to ask?”

“Five years ago, my only daughter married a GI from Nebraska. His Dad is a big wig manager for the Union Pacific. Phil, my son-in-law, does not like office work. He wants to be on the road. He is hauling heavy freight out of Omaha.

My wife and I go there, every year. Usually, I accompany him on trips over hundreds of miles. Now I am returning a favor to a fellow GI. I saw this look on your face, you know. Besides that, there was no time for you to board a passenger car. The schedule does not allow for tardy GIs.”

He started to mess around with some dashboard controls, looking at this and checking on that. Then he continued:

“Last year, the Union Pacific actually offered me a job. I am seriously considering taking it. What do you think?”

“If I were you, I would take it in a heartbeat.”

“Ok, I am already planning on it. Next year. My daughter and my son-in-law will be very happy. My wife will get used to it. The other day, I found a tour guide for the State of Nebraska on her night stand. Does that tell you anything?”

At the Stuttgart Hbf, an MP Sergeant was already waiting for me. He saw me climbing out of the locomotive.

“How on earth do you rate to get a ride like this?” he asked.

“Never mind, Sarge. It’s a long story.”


 The V200 locomotive family had two diesel engines in them. This did not contribute to economical operation. Eventually, they were replaced by the more economical single engine V 160 and all the subsequent variants. I will tell you more about this in a future blog article.

Maerklin, Trix and Roco routinely offer representative models of the V200 series. They are a must on an Era III layout. I cherish the one I have. Whenever I run it, I dwell on memories such as the one described above.





Toward the end of the V 200 series’ tenure, Krauss-Maffei developed a more powerful 6 axle version, first designated V 230, later dubbed V 300. Only a few of them were built and used. It was too late in the game. They were shoved aside by newer and more fuel efficient types. The last one was scrapped in 1980. This is actually the model that I have.


V 230/300

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>