Tuesday, August 28, 2012


It's a torpedo on rails ? A flying Cigar ?

Railzeppelin (Deutsche Reichsbahn) 3477, Märklin,
Germany, 1995 
Streamlined like a Shinkansen (=Japanese bullet train)...
...but in 1931 !

When Germany entered the 2nd WW, they left a number of extremely futuristic inventions unfinished. All production had to go to destroying lives instead of giving a better future.

This rotor-propelled locomotive was one of these incredible projects. Here is what I found on the web... 

"Airplane Technology on Rails. In the Twenties of the previous century, aeronautical engineer Franz Kruckenberg, born in Uetersen, Germany in 1882, had the vision of fast railroad passenger service with propeller-driven railroad cars. The plans developed by him were based on lightweight airplane technology and reached their peak on June 21, 1931 in a triumphant record run by his streamlined Rail Zeppelin. It reached 233 km/h / 146 mph, a speed record for powered railroad cars that stood for 23 years. The principle of propeller-driven railroad cars proved to be less than ideally suited during test runs. Yet, Kruckenberg laid the foundation for modern, lightweight high speed rail cars with the Rail Zeppelin and axle-powered successor designs developed by him. The Rail Zeppelin was and still remains a legend and synonym for the rapid progress in railroad technology that has reached its peak in the present with the current high speed powered rail car train technology "

Detail of rotor
Nowedays the only way to see one of these is in miniature on a railroad. This Märklin model (Sonder Serie / special edition) is pretty neat, and it has a silver-plated propellor that was quite nicer looking than the usual 4-bladed orange rotor on earlier models.

At low power, only the rotor begins to spin. Increase a little speed and the whole locomotive moves. Sweet !

The real one. Metal structure.
Copycats... Kuckenberg on wheels !

This loc was a superstar at its time...

Like the TGV or ICE, but built without computers.
No need for water ! (we're still in the steam age !)

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