18 201 is widely considered the most impressive and most elegant steam locomotive built by the Deutsche Reichsbahn of Eastern Germany. It received its present shape at the Meiningen steam locomotive workshop, where in 1960-61 it was converted from the streamlined 2'C3' (4-6-6) tank locomotive 61 002 built in 1939, incorporating also many parts from the experimental locomotive H45 024, a complete new boiler and a type 2'2'T34 tender. Now having the classic "Pacific" wheel arrangement (2'C1'/4-6-2), it was equipped with a partial streamline shroud inspired by the SNCF 232 U1 and a livery in green with white decorative stripes and red running gear. Rated for a top speed of 180 km/h, it was used for experimental purposes (mainly testing carriages designed for export at high speed), but also occasionally in regular express train service. From 1970 to 1991, the engine carried the number 02 0201-0 according to the "computer" numbering system of the DR.
Having been stored cold since 1997, 18 201 was returned to working status in 2001-02 at the Meiningen steam locomotive workshop under the sponsorship of steam railtour operator Dampf-Plus and model railway manufacturer Roco from Austria, who had brought out a H0-scale model of this magnificent engine a few years earlier.
At Roco's request, 18 201 has received a new livery in red, which has proven highly controversial among railfans. (In the picture, an auxiliary second tender can be seen still wearing the locomotive's previous green livery.) However, after one year the red livery is to make way for the original dark green again.
Digital photo by Herbert Ortner
Text by Sven Manias