Gas Turbine Locomotive GT3

The GT3 was originally conceived as part of a programme of Gas Turbine locomotive development instigated prior to the railways nationalisation during the late 1940's when all Britain's railways were based around the steam locomotive with the associated turntables and track that were ideally suited to the steam locomotive chassis. Nationalisation lead to funding delays and it was to take 10 years for the locomotive to leave the drawing board and enter service under test. In fact the construction of the engine had already been started at English Electric's Rugby works in the early 1950's where the locomotive was tested without any bodywork on a bare chassis (see photo below taken sometime between late 1955 and early 1956) and its completion at the Vulcan Works was more of a favour than a profitable venture for such a one off. 


GT3 gas turbine locomotive on test at Rugby between end '55 early '56

GT3 on Test at British Rail's Rugby Works test bed 
at the same time as the unmodified and modified merchant navy class are on test


Indeed the 10 year delay from conception to completion had doomed the locomotive from the start as track improvements and the already advanced diesel electric programme had all but sealed its fate. The decision to complete its construction is best viewed as the official closing of the experimental gas turbine programme with the first locomotive GT1 (BR18000) conceived by the Swiss Locomotive Company with a Brown-Boveri Turbine being already withdrawn by 1959 after a series of mechanical failures. GT2 (BR18100) built by Metropolitan Vickers suffered a similar fate and it was left to GT3 to complete the test programme. The locomotive was effectively on loan to British Rails London Midland region and was a very well finished locomotive with a plush carpeted cab and a very high level of detailing and external finish. The locomotive was painted in that strange red/chocolate brown colour with yellow and black lining. Dave Lightfoot remembers that as an apprentice in the Vulcans drawing office it was parked below the upstairs windows and they used to eat their sandwiches in it's cab at lunchtime after it had been handed back to English Electric as a result of an incident at Crewe station. Apparently the locomotive did not handle corners at speed to well and had struck the platform edgings at Crewe station during a trial run causing not insignificant damage to the platform. The locomotive languished at the side of the drawing office for a number of years until it was stripped of its turbine and other useful bits at the back end of 1965 before the remains were sent to TW Ward's scrapyard in Salford in February 1966.

GT3 and other loco's outside Vulcan Foundry December 1960


 Always keen to make the most capital out of such experimental work the Vulcan used the presence of the locomotive at the works to update its publicity literature with some new photographs that emphasised the versatility of the works. Hence a new photograph was taken on a grey and wet day in december 1960 with GT3 joining the lineup of Vulcan products to show that here was a factory that could basically build any form of modern locomotive.



GT3 sitting idle in a Siding whilst on BR test.


The tender at the rear contained the fuel oil which the 2500hp gas turbine burn't at a profuse rate and the rectangular bulges at the each of the loco each contained the large number of lead acid batteries required to start the turbine. The air intakes at the front of each bulge providing air to ventilate the hydrogen gas produced whilst the batteries charged during running.

Drawing of GT3 Gas Turbine Locomotive

 General Dimensions and Layout of GT3

GT3 Gas Turbine Locomotive Principles of Operation
General Dimensions and Layout of GT3

GT3 at speed on Shap

GT3 running at speed over Shap