Class G12 was actually preceded by G121, later DRG 580. 58 002 (Henschel 13288/1915) has been depicted on a postcard (from my collection); details are lacking.




Ty1-70, location unknown, July 1962. Photo from my collection.




The sole surviving Ty1-76 (Linke-Hofmann 1866/1919), photographed in Wolsztyn on September 8, 2004.




Another picture of the Ty1-76, taken on May 2, 2008.




Side view of the G12 from TB vol.1, ©Lokomotiv-Revue.



KPEV Elberfeld 5627 (Krupp 31/1920). Later re-numbered 58 1992 by DRG, this engine served with DR until 1968. Photo from my collection. Several photos of ex-G12s in the DR service can be found here.




A considerable number (probably 49) of former G12s after WWII went to Yugoslavia and served with JDŽ as class 36. 36-013 (ex DRG 58 1226, Henschel 16584/1919) was photographed at the railway museum in Lublana, Slovenia, during external refurbishment. June 18, 2009.




No. 1196 (Hartmann 4352/1920), one of 62 class XIII H engines delivered to the railways of Saxony. Later DRG 58 412, it went to DR, rebuilt in 1962 and re-numbered 58 3056, it was withdrawn in September 1980. Location and date unknown. Postcard from my collection.



58 261, originally built for Badenian railways (No.1941, Brown-Boveri 5001/1921), photographed in Potsdam on May 17, 1993, by someone who wishes to be known as MPW57. Source: www.de.wikipedia.org.



KPEV Cassel 5551, Henschel 13332/1915, from the first batch of fifteen engines classed G121. Later re-numbered 58 004, it was withdrawn in June 1932. Photo from my collection.



15000th locomotive built by Henschel, in 1917, was a G12. Impressed into KPEV service as Cassel 5556, it later became 58 1002 and survived with DR until 1948. Photo from my collection.



KPEV Münster 5586 (Borsig 10618/1920) later became 58 1353 and was rebuilt with coal dust firing in 1928. This engine served with DR until October 1967. Photo taken at the Stendal repair works in August 1949. Source: Bundesarchiv via www.commons.wikimedia.org.



10,000th locomotive built by Borsig was a G12 (Münster 5566), delivered in 1918. Re-numbered 58 1099 by DRG, it later became Ty1-69 and was withdrawn in December 1966. Source: Die Lokomotive November 1919.



Originally built for Badenian railways and numbered 125 (MBG 2153/1921), this engine was later re-numbered 58 311 and served with DR until March 1977 (since 1970 as 58 1111). It is currently owned by Ulmer Eisenbahnfreunde. Photographed near Erla, date unknown. Photo by Axel Schlenkirch (postcard from my collection).

In the locomotive class designation system, adopted by Prussian state railways KPEV (Königlich Preußische Eisenbahnverwaltung) after 1906, capital ‘G’ stood for Güterzuglokomotiven, or freight engines. One or two digits that followed distinguished individual types. After steam superheating had been introduced, it was assumed that even and odd numbers should be assigned to engines running on superheated and saturated steam, respectively. As the former very soon became dominant, class G10 was followed by G12 – the last, the heaviest and most powerful class of Prussian freighters, which was destined to have a considerable influence on locomotive design, not only in Germany.

Contrary to what might be expected, class G12 was actually preceded by G121. Its appearance had been dictated by the need for freight engines still more powerful that standard Prussian types with four or five coupled axles. Design work was initiated by Henschel in 1913 and apart from axle arrangement, which was changed to 1-5-0 (Bissel lead truck with 80 mm side-play), three-cylinder layout was introduced. This allowed for cylinder diameter reduction from 630 to 560 mm, compared to earlier two-cylinder G10. Prototype was outshopped in 1915. New engine, with large, high-pitched boiler, looked impressive, but was not entirely successful. In particular, axle load of over 17 tonnes was unacceptably high for many tracks, especially during war. Thus KPEV purchased only 21 examples and Reichseisenbahnen Elsaß-Lothringen obtained further twelve. Fifteen were later impressed into the DRG service as class 580, but most of them were withdrawn between 1932 and 1934; only two survived WWII and the last one was scrapped in 1963. Moreover, Königlich Sächsische Staatseisenbahnen (SäStB) ordered from Hartmann twenty examples of an improved variant, with increased heating surface and enlarged superheater. Classed XIII H, they were the first German locomotives to exceed 100 tonnes in working order. After the war six went to France (later SNCF class 150D) and fourteen were impressed into DRG service as class 581; the last one was withdrawn in 1934.

G121 was further developed into an export version for Turkish war ministry, with smaller drivers 1250 mm in diameter, smaller cylinders, boiler pressure reduced to 13 bar and large firebox, located above the drivers; this was necessary in order to burn low-grade local coals. Only ten machines, built by Henschel, could be delivered before the Armistice (War Ministry numbers 101 through 110, later TCDD 56001 through 56010). Four went to Belgium (later they were transferred to Luxembourg) and one to France (Chemins de Fer de l’Est E5015, later SNCF 150A15). Turkish engine was slightly lighter than G121 and developed the tractive effort of almost 20 tonnes, which made it a very powerful machine for its time. Its development variant was thus ordered in 1917 by KPEV, as well as several other German railway managements, but again with some modifications: 1400 mm drivers, boiler pressure increased to 14 bar and Belpaire-type firebox. Compared to the Turkish variant, grate area was reduced from 4.50 sq.m to 3.88 sq.m, but German railways had no need to rely on low-grade coals. This engine became the G12.

Production for KPEV totaled 1168 examples, delivered between 1917 and 1922 by eight manufacturers: AEG, Borsig, Hanomag, Henschel, Krupp, Linke-Hofmann, Rheinmetall and Schichau. Badenian railways obtained 98 examples, also classed G12 and built by MBG, Linke-Hofmann and Brown-Boveri of Switzerland. Reichseisenbahnen Elsaß-Lothringen took delivery of 118 engines from Henschel (68, service numbers 5563-5630) and Grafenstaden (50, service numbers 5631-5680); after WWI all went to France. Esslingen built 43 G12s for Württembergische Staatsbahn between 1919 and 1922. Finally, SäStB obtained 62 engines, also classed XIII H, built by Hartmann between 1917 and 1922; further twelve, completed in 1924, were not given SäStB service numbers and went directly to DRG. This gives the grand total of 1509 examples, excluding class G121 and those built against the Turkish order. Individual batches differed in details, the most visible being the number and shape of boiler domes.

After the war most of these modern and powerful engines remained in Germany, with the exception of those from Alsace-Lorraine and a handful from Prussia and Saxony, which went to France. In the DRG service they were classed 5810-21 (formerly KPEV) and 582-5 (formerly railways of other lands). In 1920s a few examples were rebuilt with coal dust firing, but this system has not found widespread use; however, DR continued to develop it further in 1950s. After WWII they remained in the DB service only until 1953. With DR they soldiered on for much longer: most were withdrawn in 1970s, but some survived until early 1980s. 56 examples were rebuilt with modified boilers and re-classed 5830; they were fitted with small, curved smoke lifters.

Not a single G12 was handed over to Polish Railways as a part of war reparations. However, PKP obtained one example from France. This engine, former ‘Saarbrücken 5526’ (Henschel 15756/1918), designated Ty1-1, was acquired mainly for evaluation purposes and remained in use until 1939. Taken over by Germans and impressed into DRG as 58 2144, it was returned after the war and became Ty1-23. Polish specialists held this class in high esteem, but three-cylinder layout was considered too complex. Class G12 served as a basis for PKP class Ty23, the most numerous steam locomotive of Polish design. Ty23 retained the Belpaire-type boiler, but featured more typical two-cylinder single-expansion engine. After WWII Polish state railways acquired as many as 134 examples. They were assigned to regional managements in Poznań and Wrocław, a few saw also some service in Upper Silesia. In mid-1950s several (probably fourteen) were handed over to DR in exchange for ex-Polish Ty23s. Last example in service, Ty1-94, was written off in October 1970. Several served for a few years more as stationary boilers at various industrial establishments. Ty1-76 (ex KPEV ‘Elberfeld 5562’, then DRG 58 1297, Linke-Hofmann 1866/1919), withdrawn in September 1969, has been refurbished externally and is currently kept in Wolsztyn on static display. Some older sources claim that the preserved example is Ty1-87, which is incorrect.

The 1-5-0 axle arrangement was retained in standardized German medium and heavy freight locomotives, built in very large numbers. In fact Decapod was almost synonymous with a heavy European freighter. In Poland this layout was used in classes Ty23, Ty37, Ty45 and Ty51, which together with ex-DRG wartime locomotives, formed the mainstay of Polish locomotive fleet until the ultimate withdrawal of steam motive power.


Main technical data







Years of manufacture


1917 – 1921


Total built / used in Poland


1509 / 1341)


Tender class




Axle arrangement




Design maximum speed




Cylinder bore


3 x 570


Piston stroke




Engine rating


1413 / 1922


Tractive effort


18 200


Boiler pressure




Grate dimensions

m x m

2.5 x 1.56


Firebox heating surface




Distance between tube plates


4 800


Number of flue tubes




Heating surface of flue tubes




Number of smoke tubes




Heating surface of smoke tubes




Evaporating surface, total




Superheater heating surface




Diameter of drivers




Diameter of idlers front/rear


1000 / -


Total weight, empty


87 270


Total weight, working order


95 700


Weight on drivers, working order


82 500


Weight with tender, empty


106 870


Weight with tender, working order


141 300


Maximum axle load




Axle base (with tender)


15 395


Overall length (with tender)


18 495


Brake type




1)      After WWII; only one before 1939.

2)      Some sources give 194.9 sq.m.


References and acknowledgments


-         Monographic article by Roman Witkowski and Paweł Terczyński (SK vol. 4/2001);

-         TB vol.1, LP;

-         www.lokomotive.de (website by Ingo Hütter);

-         http://www-personals.umich.edu/~khmiska (website by Kurt H. Miska - currently not active).