This 4-6-4 diesel-pneumatic loco was designed to solve the problem of power transmission between a diesel engine and the wheels. Time has shown that diesel-electric is the way to go, but in earlier years it was by no means obvious that dragging around a heavy generator and lots of electric motors and associated control equipment was a good idea.
The diesel-pneumatic locomotive was planned in 1924, an order being placed on the 18th September 1924 in response to a quotation made on the 11th April 1924. Construction took five years rather than the planned single year, which indicates some pretty serious technical difficulties had to be overcome.
Completed in 1929, V3201 was the first high-performance Diesel loco on the Deutsch ReichsBahn. It used the MAN Lo6 Vu 45/42 engine, originally developed for use in U-boats. (surprise, surprise) It was a six-cylinder 1000/1200hp engine direct-coupled to a MAN 2-cylinder double-acting single-stage air compressor. Air was delivered at 7 Bar. (102 psi) The design speed was 70 km/hr and the weight in operating condition 70 tons; the maximum axle loading was 18 tons.