Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Der Fliegende Hamburger

This is a postcard view of a train of benign and slightly goofy appearance that conceals a more sinister reality. It was constructed in Germany in the 1930s to provide a streamlined diesel-powered high-speed service between Hamburg and Berlin and became an essential weapon in Nazi Germany’s quest for international respectability. Supremacy in all matters of speed, power and performance was a key transport objective for the Reich and the achievements of this train were well publicised abroad. If the outside world could be dazzled by the triumphs of German engineering, the less palatable activities of the Reich might easily be overlooked. For British engineers this train became an object of intense curiosity and Sir Nigel Gresley of the LNER travelled to Germany in 1934 to experience it at first hand. Despite being impressed by the smooth running at sustained high speeds, Gresley returned convinced that he could do better by developing more efficient steam powered locomotives and in 1938 his streamlined A4 Pacific, Mallard set a world record speed of 126mph.

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