The Let's Play Archive

Chris Sawyer's Locomotion

by Jaguars!

Part 25: Gresley'V2' (Paul.Power)

Sources: myself, Wikipedia, Our Phellap

Gresley V2 6MT
Company: London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), and later British Railways (BR)
Designer: Nigel Gresley
Wheel Arrangement: 2-6-2
First produced: 1936
Total built: 184
Total preserved: 1

A fast mixed freight service (arguably the predecessor of modern container freight) from London to Scotland was proposed, but locomotives were needed to pull it. The A3 class could have handled the job, but they were all tied up with passenger duties. Enter the V2 class, Nigel Gresley's final major design for the LNER (1936 was his 25th year as a Chief Mechanical Engineer), and, some would argue, his masterpiece (bearing in mind this is the guy who designed Mallard). The freight service would be called Green Arrow, a name also applied to the first locomotive in the V2 class.

The V2's wheelbase was unusual - 2-6-2 not being common for tender engines in the UK - but it was ultimately a smaller version of the A3, still keeping Gresley's trademark 3-cylinder layout. Although designed for fast freight, the locos soon found themselves deputising for A3s and A4s on express routes and even managing break 100mph on a test train one time.

Like the Black Fives, the V2s were "do anything" locomotives - and faster and more powerful than them, as well. Unlike the Black Fives, they were not "go anywhere" locos though - their extra power came at the cost of very high axle-loadings that barred them from the majority of the LNER's routes. In some respects, their role was more similar to Jubilees than Black Fives, despite officially being mixed traffic locos.

They still proved their worth though, performing remarkable feats of endurance during World War 2, hauling trains of over 20 vehicles and 700 tons, and permitting their continued construction through the War until 1944. They performed equally well on major inter-city routes under British Railways as well.

Green Arrow is the sole survivor of the class, and is always a loco that makes me smile on visits to the National Railway Museum in York - maybe it's the nice green livery, maybe because it's a bit like Flying Scotsman with a bit less pomp and circumstance, I dunno. It's even a major character in Thomas and the Great Railway Show, being the first engine to make friends with Thomas on his visit to the NRM .