DRB Class 52

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DRB Class 52
52 4867 of the HEF in Frankfurt am Main
Number(s) see text
Quantity 7000+
Manufacturer see Text
Year(s) of manufacture 1942–ca. 1950
Retired ČSD: 1976
DB: 1962
DR: 1988
ÖBB: 1976
Wheel arrangement 2-10-0
Axle arrangement 1'E h2
Type G 56.15
Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
1,524 mm (5 ft) Russian Railways
Length over buffers 22.975 m (75 ft 4 12 in)
27.532 m (90 ft 3 78 in) (with condensing tender)
Overall wheelbase 9.2 m (30 ft 2 14 in)
Service weight 84.0 t (82.7 long tons; 92.6 short tons)
Service weight incl. tender 102.7 t (101.1 long tons; 113.2 short tons)
Adhesive weight 75.9 t (74.7 long tons; 83.7 short tons)
Top speed 80 km/h (50 mph)
Indicated Power 1,192 kW (1,598 hp)
Driving wheel diameter 1,400 mm (55.12 in)
Leading wheel diameter 850 mm (33.46 in)
No. of cylinders 2
Cylinder bore 600 mm (23.62 in)
Piston stroke 660 mm (25.98 in)
Boiler Overpressure 16 bar (1.6 MPa; 230 psi)
Grate area 3.89 m2 (41.9 sq ft)
Evaporative heating area 177.83 m2 (1,914.1 sq ft)
Tender service weight 18.7 t (18.4 long tons; 20.6 short tons)
Water capacity 27,000 L (5,900 imp gal; 7,100 US gal)
30,000 L (6,600 imp gal; 7,900 US gal) when using an ÖBB covered tender
Fuel 10.0 t (9.8 long tons; 11.0 short tons) coal
Train heating Steam

The Deutsche Reichsbahn's Class 52[note 1] was a German steam locomotive built in large numbers during the Second World War. It was the most produced type of the so-called Kriegslokomotiven or Kriegsloks (war locomotives). The Class 52 was a wartime development of the pre-war DRG Class 50, using fewer parts and less expensive materials to speed production. They were designed by Wagner who was Chief Engineer of the Central Design Office at the Locomotive Standards Bureau of the DRG. About a dozen classes of locomotive were referred to as Kriegslokomotiven, however the three main classes were the Class 52, 50 and 42.

Many locomotives passed into Russian ownership after the Second World War. In the U.S.S.R. the class were designated TE (TЭ). Other operators of the type included Poland (as class Ty2) and Romania, Bulgaria, Norway and Turkey. In Yugoslavia locomotives of the type were classified JŽ 33.[1]


Following the invasion of Poland in September 1939 Nazi Germany disbanded Polish National Railways. Polish management was either executed in mass shooting actions (see: the 1939 Intelligenzaktion and the 1940 German AB-Aktion in Poland) or imprisoned, and some 8,000 managerial positions were staffed with German officials.[2] Former Polish companies began producing German engines BR44, BR50 and BR86 as early as 1940 using forced labour. By 1944, the factories in occupied Poznań and Chrzanów were mass-producing the redesigned "Kriegslok" BR52 locomotives for the Eastern Front. These locomotives were made almost entirely of steel - the use of more expensive, non-ferrous metals was dropped in view of the engines' expected lifespan.[2]

Over 6,700 locomotives of DRB Class 52 type were built across Europe for use on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. It therefore has a claim to being one of the most numerous steam locomotive classes in the world. To achieve such numbers, the German locomotive manufacturers were merged into the Gemeinschaft Grossdeutscher Lokomotivhersteller (GGL), which was a subdivision of the Hauptausschuss Schienenfahrzeuge (HAS) founded in 1942. Key HAS figures were the Reichsminister for munition and armament, Albert Speer and the Reich transport minister, Julius Dorpmüller.

The GGL included the following locomotive manufacturers (including an approximate number of Class 52s produced):

  1. LOFAG, Vienna: 1,053 units
  2. Henschel, Kassel (Henschel Flugzeugwerke AG): 1,050 units (forced labor)[3]
  3. Schwartzkopff, Berlin: 647 units
  4. Krauss-Maffei, Munich: 613 units
  5. Borsig, Berlin; branches: Borsig-Rheinmetall AG Düsseldorf (in Siemianowice, Poland), Borsig Lokomotivwerke Hennigsdorf, Borsig Werke Breslau-Hundsfeld (Bydgoszcz, Poland): 542 units (forced labor, incl. KL Auschwitz)[3]
  6. Schichau-Werke Elbing, Elbląg (Poland): 505 units (forced labor, incl. KZ Stutthof,[4] and its subcamps).[5]
  7. Maschinenbau und Bahnbedarfs AG (MBA) formerly Orenstein & Koppel, Babelsberg: 400 units
  8. DWM Posen, Poznań (occupied Poland), German takeover of Polish manufacturer H. Cegielski – Poznań: 314 units (forced labor)[6]
  9. Oberschlesische Lokfabrik Krenau, Chrzanów (occupied Poland), German takeover of Polish manufacturer Fablok: 264 units (forced labor)[6]
  10. Maschinenfabrik Esslingen: 250 units
  11. Jung, Jungenthal, Kirchen: 231 units
  12. Škoda Works, Pilsen: 153 units
  13. Grafenstaden, Strasbourg: 139 units

Engine design[edit]

The class 52 was a radically simplified version of the pre-war Reichsbahn class 50 locomotive (produced 1938-1942). The simplified design of the class 52 was intended to reduce the man-hours and skills needed to make it and an adaptation to war-time shortages of materials. Additional design changes gave the locomotives and their crew better protection against the cold winters experienced on the eastern front.[6] Between 1942 and the end of the war in May 1945 over 6,300 class 52 locomotives were built. Additional locomotives were built post-war giving a class total of probably 6719 units, delivered by seventeen manufacturers. The Class 42 was a larger version of the Class 52 and was produced in small numbers.

In the early post-war years the 52s were used by many European countries, the largest user being the Soviet Union which had more than 2100 of this type. Poland was another country with more than a thousand and East Germany had about 800 examples. The type was also quite widespread in most of the other east European nations. West European countries replaced them with more modern locos as soon as possible, with the exception of Austria where they were used until 1976. The simplicity and effectiveness as well as the large production number meant that many east European countries were slow to withdraw Kriegslokomotiven, with Poland using them until the early 1990s. Turkey and Bosnia were also late users of the type.

Wagner had wanted locomotives which were long-lasting and easy to maintain and unlike British engineers did not consider a high power-to-weight ratio a priority. The resulting Kriegslokomotiven had a low axleload of 15 tons and could haul 40% more freight than the Prussian locomotives they replaced. They could haul 1,200 tons at 65 km/h without significant strain.

Countries using the engine[edit]

Some 100 were built for Romanian State Railways, becoming their Class 150.1000 engines. Over 150 were in use by the Bulgarian State Railways as Class 15. Turkish Republic Railways built 10 for forming the TCDD 56501 Class. Turkish Railways acquired 43 additional locos at the end of the war, these had previously been on hire.

Several have been preserved. One of these is preserved on the Nene Valley Railway in Peterborough, England. Another one is still in service with the Franconian Museum Railway in Bavaria, Germany.

The Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) in East Germany had 200 machines reconstructed to the new DR Class 52.80.

74 locomotives were sent to Norway during WWII and were confiscated as war reparations following the war. The Norwegian classification was class 63, and was nicknamed "Stortysker" (Big German). One engine is extant at the Norwegian Railway Museum which has been restored by the Norwegian Railway Club.

The ČSD Czechoslovak state railways used hundreds of 52s post-war, partly left here by the Nazis after the liberation in May 1945, partly brought in as war reparation and/or (re)built by the Škoda Works in Plzeň. They bore designation of typová řada (type line) ČSD 555; several dozen were subsequently adapted, as the 555.3, to burn mazut, a large surplus of which was generated in Czechoslovak synthetic fuel plants by the Fischer-Tropsch method of producing petrol from brown coal, abundant here. The 555.3 differed visibly (besides the differences brought about by use of the semi-liquid fuel) also by having a lid on the smokestack to slow down cooling of the refractory lining in the flue passage, to prevent its cracking.

The MÁV Hungarian State Railways acquired 100 locomotives from the Soviet Union that were brought there as war trophies in 1963. They were retired from the MÁV and the GYSEV in the 1980s. They served under the classification 520.

Of the Yugoslavian JŽ 33 locomotives, 5 are still operational and used day to day by Kreka Mines to haul lignite from Dubrave and Šikulje mines to the ŽFBH mainline for onward passage by ŽFBH to Tuzla Thermo Electric power station.


In media and popular culture[edit]

The Kriegslokomotiven are featured in the third sequel of the successful computer game series Railroad Tycoon under the name "Kriegslok 2-10-0". A DRB 52 Kriegslokomotive was also used in the official music video for Extreme's "Stop the World" in model railway form. An actual Kriegslokomotive was also used for the video. An inconsistency can be seen where the model DRB 52 used for the opening (and briefly near the end) has boiler fins, while the real DRB 52 that is shown afterwards does not.


  1. ^ Wartime locomotives classes are prefixed DRB (Deutsche Reichsbahn) to distinguish them from those introduced by the DRG (prefixed DRG), which became defunct in 1937, and those introduced later by the East German Deutsche Reichsbahn (prefixed DR).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Serija JŽ 33 (Kriegslokomotive DRB 52)", www.stacion.hr (in Croatian) 
  2. ^ a b Jerzy Wasilewski (2014). "25 września. Wcielenie kolei polskich na Śląsku, w Wielkopolsce i na Pomorzu do niemieckich kolei państwowych Deutsche Reichsbahn (Takeover of Polish Railways in Silesia, Greater Poland and Pomerania)". Polskie Koleje Państwowe PKP. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Eliah Meyer (July 1949). "List of german firms that used prisoners from concentration camps for slave labor". Catalogue of Camps and Prisons in Germany and the German-Occupied Territories. The International Tracing Service, ITS. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Geoffrey P. Megargee, USHMM (2009). The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum encyclopedia of camps and ghettos, 1933-1945. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253354293. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  5. ^ J. Więsyk (2015). "Gdańsk-Kokoszki - KL Stutthof Sub Camp". Virtual Shtetl. POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c Michał Kubara; Beata Mamcarczyk; Marcin Paździora; Sandra Schab (2012). "Sosnowiec". Katalog Zabytków Techniki Przemysłowej Zagłębia Dąbrowskiego (PDF file, direct download 9.97 MB). Zagłębiowska Oficyna Wydawnicza Publishing. pp. 84–85. ISBN 978-83-928381-1-1. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  • Peter Slaughter; Alexander Vassiliev; Roland Beier (1996). The German Class 52 Kriegslok (in English and German). Frank Stenvalls Förlag. ISBN 91-7266-140-2. 

External links[edit]