The Bavarian Class S 2/6 Steam Express Locomotive
At the start of the 20th century, experiments by different German state railroads in fast running attracted attention to their systems. The Bavarian State Railroad (K.Bay.Sts.B.) also contracted in 1905 for a fast locomotive as part of this "intoxication with speed". As early as a year later Maffei delivered the S 2/6 with the road number 3201 as designed under the close supervision of chief designer Anton Hammel. The S 2/6 was a 4-4-4- hot steam compound locomotive with a bar frame, 150 km/h / 94 mph maximum speed and 16 metric tons axle load. The running gear was a new concept with the pilot and trailing trucks for guiding the locomotive and the development of the water tank in the tender as a self-supporting design. Although the locomotive did not have a completely streamlined sheathing, there were several elements to the locomotive's appearance intended to reduce wind resistance. In front of the cylinders was a curved sheathing. The smoke box door was conical in shape and the smoke stack and steam dome both had shapes to reduce wind resistance. The cab was also designed to be streamlined, and it transitioned seamlessly into the boiler sheathing. In July of 1907, the locomotive reached the maximum speed of 154.5 km/h / 96 mph with a 150 metric ton experimental train on the route Munich– Augsburg and thereby set a world speed record.
The locomotive was initially based in Munich. It came to Ludwigshafen in 1910 and initially ran from there with express trains to Strasbourg and Bingerbrück. In 1922, it came back to Munich, and from 1923 on it was stationed in Augsburg. It never bore its DRG road number 15 001 because as early as 1925 this one-off unit was given a place of honor in the Nürnberg Transportation Museum. The S 2/6 thus played undoubtedly a tragic double role in its history. To be sure, it was technically ahead of its time in 1906 and it met the planned requirements for its realization as a piece of motive power. However, its design was overtaken after a very short time in service by the rapidly changing external conditions. For with the exception of a few years in operation in the Palatine area, the S 2/6 soon saw itself forced into a secondary role as an unloved one-off design. Aside from the record runs in 1907, it remained a design quickly overtaken by the times. It was never built as a production locomotive and disappeared after a few years from regular service. Yet, its historic significance does not lie in its service life but is grounded in its technological and design role as a pioneer, which strongly influenced more than locomotive building.