Select Page

Strange Locomotives – British Rail GT3

In the early 1950’s effort was expended to determine the viability of using Gas Turbines as a means of producing motive force in a locomotive. GT3, which stands for “ Gas Turbine number 3” (following on from it’s predecessors – units 18000 and 18100 as gas turbines number 1 and number 2). The GT3 was a prototype mainline gas-turbine locomotive built in 1961 by English Electric at their Vulcan Foundry in Newton-le-Willows, to showcase its products to British Railways. It was designed by Vulcan engineer J. O. P. Hughes in a project that started back in the early 1950s. Outwardly it looked just like a steam tender locomotive, although, in the case of GT3, the tender was loaded with kerosene. The GT3 was of 4-6-0 wheel arrangement similar to a Bitish Rail standard class 5 steam locomotive chassis fitted with an EM27L gas turbine generating 2,700 hp (2,000 kW). However. the chassis itself was significantly strengthened in order to cope with the high torque of the turbine. It had a maximum speed of 90 mph (140 km/h), weighed in at 125 and a half tons, and was painted in a red oxide livery. BR tested it at its Rugby test centre and then further testing was conducted on the former Great Central Main Line around Leicester and on the West Coast Main Line around the Shap incline. At this time, Vulcan was fully engaged in manufacturing diesel-electric locomotives of many different types (including the famous Deltic). These were rapidly gaining hold as the future of rail traction. Diesel-electrics have no need for turntables, a significant advantage that the GT3 with its steam loco style layout was unable to offer. BR decided to opt for diesel and electric traction, and the GT3 was returned to the Vulcan Foundry at the end of 1962, where it was gradually dismantled. It was eventually scrapped at the Thomas W Ward yard in Salford in February 1966. Interestingly enough having been towed there by a BR standard steam locomotive.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About The Author


Favourite Scale: OO / 1:76 Likes: Making small stuff on the laser cutter Dislikes: Counting rivets Other info: Starting to dabble with the world of 3D printing a bit to enhance the products we create on the laser. Layout: Whitwick Grove


  1. PACtrain

    Would be a good locomotive for Dapol to produce – in my view

  2. Iain

    I have seen this as a resin kit a few years back. Would certainly make for a great & interesting model.

    • DordonWagonWorks

      I think the resin model is still available, but I’m not sure who from (not Judith Edge, I did look). There was a piece in the modelling press about a year ago.

Leave a reply

Become A VIP Today!