Friday, October 05, 2007

Flying Bricks

East meets West. Former East German class 143 (L) and DB class 111 (R) together in Stuttgart main station, Sept 24th 2007

October the 3rd was German unification day, to commemorate the time when Germany was finally reunited in 1989-1990. This seemed a good time to make poignant comparisons between locomotive design in the two Germanys (and thereby cunningly mask my complete lack of model making progress).

During the years Germany was divided, the two nations’ locomotives developed in different ways: the west bought locos from the Likes of Siemens and Krupp, like the class 111 in the foreground, whereas the DDR (East Germany) was supplied by centralised locomotive works in Eastern Europe whose policy seemed to be that styling was for the Western Imperialists. In some cases it seems that locos able to start, stop, or pull the skin off a rice pudding were considered suspect as well, judging by some of the less successful clunkers that were built.

Some did work though. This class 143, previously East German Railways (DR) class 243, is one of several hundred capable units that were made more or less redundant after the DDR was brought into the Federal Republic, and freight on the former DR dropped faster than a barometer in a hurricane. The class was successful enough that the first locomotives built by after reunification were of this type, althought that was a was a political move: the locomotives became a symbol of reunification, but German railways would really have preferred a loco capable of 200kmh, not 120.

'Aerodynamic' cab?

Apparently the cab is supposed to be aerodynamic. I can’t say that’s how I'd describe it, but I do like these locos. I could see a model version running on the KÖB one day, under the scenario that they were subsidised to help production in an east German locomotive factory. In fact I could end up building a whole fleet of flying bricks if I'm not careful -partly because I like them, or more likely because I’m too much of a coward to try difficult-to-make compound curves like those on the front of the 111 class...

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