What’s the largest steam locomotive ever built? The fastest? The heaviest? What about another category? The most locomotives built to one design? Union Pacific’s Big Boy may compete for the answer to those other questions, but not this one. Only 25 were built.
Another popular design was the USRA Mikado, a well designed 2-8-2 locomotive that many American railroads rostered. But only about 1,400 were made. During World War 2, Nazi Germany built over 6,000 Class 52 Kriegslokomotiven (War Locomotives). That’s a lot of locomotives built to one design, and 5 are still in everyday service!
No, the “winner” in this category is the USSR’s E Class steam locomotives. Over 10,000 of one design, with minor variants. The E Class 0-10-0 was the Russian workhorse that ran some mainlines even into the mid-1980s.
Several factories throughout the USSR built this monster, but the first E Class was built at the Luhansk Locomotive Works in Ukraine in 1921. The Luhansk Locomotive Works is a casualty of the Russian intervention and then invasion of Ukraine. We have more about the Luhansk Works and Ukrainian steam.
The Kharkiv Locomotive Factory, also in Ukraine was another major E Class steam locomotive builder. The E Class is so tied to Ukrainian history that Ukraine issued a stamp to honor the locomotive in 2005.
The Kharkiv Locomotive Factory, also in Ukraine was another major E Class builder. The E Class is so tied in with Ukrainian history that Ukraine issued a stamp to honor the locomotive in 2005.
The largest locomotive factories in the USSR all built this design, including the Kolomna Locomotive Works. Somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 of this design were built between 1912 and 1957.
Similar to the German Kriegslokomotiven, the E Class were of a simple and robust design, and were Russia’s war locomotive – although they had been designed well before World War 2. The E Class 0-10-0 (Decapod Type) were produced right up to the end of steam locomotive production in the USSR, in 1957.
There are many E Class locomotives on display throughout the former Soviet Union. And a number of E Class locomotives are still operated for excursions and specials trains.
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