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  • [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Classification of Deutsche Reichsbahn goods wagons (1920-1945)

    Author: Sithiporn Sastrasinh, USA


    The old Deutsche Reichsbahn (DRB) was set up in 1920, under a provision in the Weimar Constitution, to take over the seven individual state railways in Germany at that time. Its existence ended with the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War, although the name "Deutsche Reichsbahn" continued to be used by the railways in each occupation zone for a few more years after the war, and later on also as the name for the national railway of East Germany. During its lifetime the DRB underwent quite a few changes in its structure and organization. Its name was also changed twice. At first it was known as Deutsche Reichsbahn. Then in 1924 it was reconstituted as an autonomous entity called Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft. The word Gesellschaft was eventually dropped when the railway was put under more direct control by the government after the Nazis came to power. Throughout all these changes the DRB used basically the same classification system for its goods wagons, with occasional modifications or additions of new supplementary symbols and type regions. As a matter of fact, to label this classification system the one used exclusively by the DRB, as I did here, is somewhat misleading because the railways in Germany continued to use this classification system after the Second World War. In the case of the Deutsche Bundesbahn, it did not revise this classification system until 1952.

    The DRB used the type symbols, consisting of the main type symbols and supplementary symbols, together with the type regions for its goods wagons. The names of various towns in the Reich territories, many of which corresponded to DRB's railway operating districts or divisions (Reichsbahn Direktion; RBD) were used for type regions. The type region names were chosen arbitrarily; there was no other connection between a particular type of goods wagon and the RBD or town name that was assigned to it. The uses of both type symbols and type regions for classification purpose may sound superfluous, but the DRB actually devised this scheme to reduce the confusion in its classification system. The DRB inherited more than 600,000 goods wagons from its predecessors. Needless to say, even with the main type symbols and supplementary symbols it was not always possible to differentiate between different types of goods wagons. For example, an Om wagon would be any four or six wheel open wagon with side walls higher than 0.40 m and a loading capacity between 15-20 t. An Om Ludwigshafen, however, was an open wagon with side boards built by individual state railways before there was an agreement concerning the standardization of goods wagons. Om Breslau and Om Essen, on the other hand, were open wagons constructed according to the design agreed to by all state railways (Verbandsbauart). In addition to the type symbols and type regions the DRB also used blocks of numbers as a part of its classification system. Thus, V Altona numbers 101 to 2000 were wagons for animal transport of earlier designs (Länderbahnbauart) and V Altona numbers 2001 to 6002 were Verbandsbauart designs.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank John Oxlade for allowing me to use his web site to post this article and for his patience and encouragement. Any error or omission in this article is my sole responsibility. It would be appreciated if any reader who finds any mistake or who has any suggestion could send that information to me. (EMail: SSas-Seney@worldnet.att.net)

    Markings for ownership on goods wagons

    At first, the word Deutsche Reichsbahn and the heraldic eagle of the Reichsbahn were the markings used to show the ownership on the goods wagons. On box cars and open goods wagons (gondolas) the words Deutsche and Reichsbahn were in two separate lines with the heraldic eagle below. In flat cars and other types of wagons with limited space the words Deutsche Reichsbahn was in one line with the heraldic eagle to its left. The heraldic eagle was not always applied and it was finally taken off from all goods wagons in 1928. Only the words Deutsche Reichsbahn remained. In 1942 the ownership marking was changed to the abbreviation DR.

    Main type symbols for closed goods wagons

    G Box car (Gedeckter Güterwagen) with two or three axles, to carry 15 t load
    GG Box car with four (or more) axles and 30 t loading capacity

    This classification was not used between 1928-1938.

    K Wagon with lift-up top (Klappdeckelwagen), 15 t loading capacity
    KK Wagon with lift-up top and four or more axles to carry at least 30 t load

    This classification was added in 1933.

    V Covered wagon for animal transport (Verschlagwagen) with two axles, lattice sides and two floors, loading capacity 15 t

    Main type symbols for open goods wagons

    H Timber trucks with iron stanchions and swivelling cradles (Schemelwagen), to carry 15 t load
    O Open wagon (Offener Güterwagen) with two axles, side walls higher than 40 cm, to carry 15 t load

    These wagons were usually used for coal transport (Kohlenwagen). They could be tipped to unload through the end door.

    OO Open wagon with at least four axles and 30 t loading capacity, side walls higher than 40 cm, could be unloaded by tipping.

    Starting in 1933, this type symbol was used for wagons equipped with self-unloading mechanisms.

    R Wagon with long wooden stanchions (Rungenwagen), minimal loading length of 10 m, side walls 40 cm in height and to carry 15 t load

    The minimal loading length was changed to 9.9 m in 1928.

    S Flat car (frequently for carrying rails - Schienenwagen) with two or three axles, iron stanchions, 13 m loading length, end walls up to 40 cm in height and 15 t loading capacity
    SS Flat car with four or more axles, iron stanchions, 15 m loading length and loading capacity of 35 t or more
    X Service wagon (Arbeitswagen) for railway material with 15 t loading capacity, could not be tipped to unload

    Supplementary symbols

    In conjunction with main type symbol
    a SS (from 1939): Wagons with open brakesman's platform and fold down stanchions
    c O: Wagons with less than 15 t load and wooden side boards between 1.30 and 1,90 m in height (wagons for coke transport)
    e G (1928-39): Wagons with electric heat

    All Main Type Symbols (from 1939): Wagons with electric heat or connections for electric heat

    f G,R (from 1928): Wagons that conformed to British loading gauge, used for ferry traffic between England and the Continent (Harwich-Zeebrügge)
    g O (1921-39): Wagons with high solid side walls (Gatterwagen), I am not sure about this one. I have never seen a picture of an Og wagon.

    V: Wagons with four floors, used for geese (Gänsewagen), probably for transport of other domestic fowls too

    h G,V: Wagons with steam heating pipes
    i G: Wagons with end platforms and end doors
    k G: Refrigerator vans

    O: Wagons with two or three removable containers for coal, coke or ore

    S: Loading length less than 13 m

    SS: Loading length less than 15 m

    l G (1921-37): Loading area more than 24 sq m

    G (from 1937): Loading area more than 26 sq m

    SS (1921-28 and again from 1939): Loading length over 18 m

    SS (1928-39): Loading length over 15 m

    ll G (from 1939): Box cars that were permanently coupled together for use in fast freight service (Leigeinheit)
    m All Main Type Symbols: Wagons with two or three axles, to carry 20 t load
    n All Main Type Symbols (1921-28): Wagons with air brakes or air brake hose
    o H (1921-39): Timber trucks without iron stanchions; two of these were always coupled together

    X: Railway service wagons with side boards higher than 40 cm

    p O (1921-39): Wagons to carry minimal loads of 15 t, with side boards up to 190 cm in heights, these wagons could not be tipped to unload

    O (from 1939): Wagons that could not be tipped to unload

    V (1921-39): I am also not sure about this one, following is the German description: ohne Einrichtung zur Veränderung der Ladefläche

    r All Main Type Symbols (from 1928): Wagons that wheels could be changed to broad gauge for through traffic to the Soviet Union
    s G (from 1939): Maximum speed 90 km/h

    GG (from 1939): Maximum speed 120 km/h

    H (1921-39): Timber trucks coupled together with coupling rod

    All Main Type Symbols, except H (1921-28): Wagons that could be used on Russian broad gauge. This symbol was substituted by "r" in 1928 (see above)

    t G (from 1928): Box cars with end doors the same width as the wagons

    K, KK (from 1933): Wagons with mechanisms for self-unloading, could not be unloaded through the end doors by tipping

    O, OO, X: Wagons with mechanisms for self-unloading

    S,SS: Low loaders

    u All Main Type Symbols (from 1939): Unsuitable for transport of military personnel or vehicle
    v G (1921-39): Wagons with end doors and ventilator for animal transport

    G (from 1939): Box car with stalls (for race/show horses) and a compartment for the groom

    O: Open wagons with wooden side boards higher than 190 cm, wagons could not be tipped to unload

    w Any goods wagons with two or three axles: Loading capacity under 15 t, wagons could not be unloaded by tipping

    GG (1921-28): To carry load less than 30 t

    OO: To carry load less than 30 t

    SS: To carry load less than 35 t

    Type regions

    The following type regions were originally used by the Reichsbahn in 1922. The names of RBD Altona, Elberfeld and Trier were changed to RBD Hamburg, Wuppertal and Saarbrücken in the years that the type region names were also changed. RBD Oldenburg was abolished at the end of 1934 and all goods wagons with type name Oldenburg were renamed as Saarbrücken. But, the regions Würzburg, Magdeburg and Ludwigshafen were retained even after RBD Würzburg, Magdeburg and Ludwigshafen were abolished in 1930, 1931 and 1937! The Reichsbahn also planned to use the name Kattowitz as a type region, but cancelled it after that district had to be ceded to Poland. The name Kattowitz would come up again as a type region name after Germany occupied Poland during the Second World War.

    Type symbols Type regions
    G, Gh, Geh Hannover (Länderbahn)
    G, Gh, Gr Kassel (Verbandbauart)
    G München (Verbandsbauart)
    G, Gh, Geh, Gvwhs Stettin (Länderbahn)
    Gfh, Gfkhs, Rfh Trier (changed to Saarbrücken in 1935)
    Gk, Gkh, Gkn, Gkw, Gkhs, Gkewh, Gkwhs Berlin (refrigerator vans)
    Gleh, Glhs, Gll, Glr, Glrhs, Glt, Glw, GGhs, GGvwehs,Glmhs, Gl Dresden
    Gw, Grwh Magdeburg (Länderbahn)
    K, Kw Elberfeld (changed to Wuppertal in 1930)
    V, Vh, Vr, Vw Altona (changed to Hamburg in 1937)
    H, Hw, Hos Regensburg
    O Frankfurt (Länderbahn)
    O Halle (Verbandsbauart)
    O, Ok Nürnberg (Verbandsbauart, iron side walls)
    O, Op Schwerin (Länderbahn, iron side walls)
    O, Oc, Op, Ov, Ovl Würzburg (Länderbahn)
    Oc, Ocw, Ok, Omp, Op Münster (Länderbahn)
    Om Breslau (Verbandsbauart)
    Om Essen (Verbandsbauart)
    Om, Omp, Ludwigshafen (Länderbahn), after 1938 also Austrian and Czechoslovak wagons
    Om Königsberg
    Ot, Otm, Otmn, Otw Mainz
    Ow Karlsruhe (Länderbahn)
    KKt, OO, OOt, OOtn Oldenburg (changed to Saarbrücken in 1935)
    R, Rm, Rr, Rs, Rw Stuttgart
    S, Sk, Sm, St, Sw Augsburg
    SS, SSk, SSkra, SSl, SSla, SSt, SStl, SStk, SSw Köln
    X, Xo, Xt, Xw, Xow Erfurt

    Additional type regions after 1922

    Type symbols Type regions
    Gs, Ghs Oppeln (DRB design, 1934)
    KKt, OO, OOt,

    Gfh, Gfkhs, Rfh

    Saarbrücken (from 1935)

    Before 1935 the type region was Oldenburg for KK and OO wagons and Trier for wagons that fitted British loading gauge.

    Gh, Geh Karlsruhe (Verbandsbauart, added in 1938)
    Ol, Oml Wien (Austrian wagons and Czechoslovak wagons of Austrian design, added in 1938)
    O, Om Danzig (Polish wagons, added in 1939)
    Gu, Om Posen (Polish wagons, added in 1939)
    Omm, Ommr Linz (DRB design, 1939)
    Ommu, Ommru Villach (DRB design, 1941)
    GG Bromberg (DRB design, 1942)
    OOfs Kattowitz (DRB design, 1942; only two built)
    Rmm Ulm (DRB design, 1942)
    Ommu Klagenfurt (Austerity wagons, 1942)
    SSos Heilbronn (Austerity wagons, 1943)
    Gm, Gmhs Bremen (Austerity wagons, 1943)
    Glm Leipzig (Austerity wagons, 1943)
    Ommuf Graz (Austerity wagons, 1944; only two built)

     


    [ last updated 31st Dec 2003 ]