Shortly after the end of World War I there was a striking shortage of small, powerful tank locomotives on the DRG. The Group Administration Bavaria therefore ordered a total of 90 of these locomotives. In the process the railroad went back to the proven class D II, which had been passed up by growing requirements for greater power. The experience and improvements gathered in daily operation finally led to the new class R 3/3, which was clearly improved in its power compared to the D II.
The total of 90 units delivered turned out to be a stroke of luck - several of the class R 3/3 locomotives were still in service well into the 1960s.