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An airship on the tracks? The propeller-driven train reached 230 kilometers per hour.

An airship on the tracks? The propeller-driven train reached 230 kilometers per hour.
photo: https://www.extrastory.cz/zepelin-na-kolejich-byl-vlak-pohaneny-vrtuli-koncept-se-bohuzel-neuja/An airship on the tracks? The propeller-driven train reached 230 kilometers per hour.
26 / 12 / 2021

The year 1929 brought a truly unique piece to the railway industry. At that time, the German aeronautical engineer Franz Kruckenberg came up with the idea of a futuristic car with an unusual design and drive for which he received the attention he deserved. The train, which seems to have arrived from the future, was powered by propellers.

The car earned the name Schienenzeppelin or rail zeppelin. After a series of successful tests with him on June 21, 1931, Franz Kruckenberg himself reached a record speed of 230 kilometers per hour on the Hamburg-Berlin line. The start of the train was an extraordinary success, and the invention shone for a bright future.

Unfortunately, the opposite was true, and the prototype never saw the construction of a real train to carry passengers. The efficiency of the propeller drive started at speeds of around 200 kilometers per hour, the propeller was not enough for a slower ride, and the whole concept seemed completely impractical for rail transport. Kruckenberg did not lose hope anyway and, in cooperation with Professor Hermann Föttinger, changed the drive to hydrodynamic. The pair completely replaced the front and rebuilt the train to a working image. During the tests in 1933, the innovated version reached a speed of 180 kilometers per hour and seemed so successful that it got eventually purchased by the Imperial Railways for 10,000 marks.

However, since the purchase, the invention has never been on track, and it has fallen into disrepair in the Berlin depot until it got scrapped in 1939. It has been said that the railways never sent the train away for safety reasons, but perhaps a much more insidious reason may have played a role in the departure of the invention forever. The German-based Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft worked intensively on its model, the Fliegender Hamburger, and by buying Schienzeppelin, they sent a competing project to the ice. At the same time, contemporary experts agree that Schienzeppelin was ahead of its time in design and aerodynamics and was an example of a very successful invention.

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