Robert Gabe the head of the railway depot at Berlin
and, from 1907 and on, chief engineer of the newly created central rail
railway administration, planned to demonstrate the superiority of
superheated steam over saturated steam in the design of the P8. Other
advantages of the P8 were the ability to be turned on a 16 meter turntable
and ease of maintenance. The P8 locomotives were also designed for ease
of inspection and low cost.
Because of increasing train weights, the current
passenger locomotives were unable to meet the required schedules.
Double-heading or using an additional pushing locomotive was not a viable
option. The P7 were obsolete, expensive to maintain and only 18 were
available. Clearly a new design was needed.
Success for Robert Gabe came with the P8. The
boiler was well designed although the weight of the locomotive was above
the desired specifications so that the minimum velocity was 100 km/hr
instead of 110 km/hr. Originally the cab was pointed however later models
had conventional cabs.
The good reputation of the P8 soon became well know
throughout Germany and led to many orders from both German and foreign
railways. Up to 1928 about 3800 P8s were built - the Prussian railway
alone ordered 3370 units. More than 3000 P8s were assigned to the
Reichsbahn (DRG). After WWII the Bundesbahn (DB) modified their p8s by
replacing the original smoke deflectors with those of the Witte design.
Many of the locomotives received tub tenders. As late at 1968, about 300
P8s were still in service, most of them on the DR in East Germany.
Aster has modeled the BR38 in three versions:
Deutsche Reichsbahn (early); Deutsche Bundersbhan (late); and the K.P.E.V.