The Reichsbahn required large diesel locomotives in order to be able to switch traction from steam to diesel on the main routes. Since towards the end of the 1950s there weren't yet Comecon regulations prohibiting the production of large diesel locomotives in the GDR, LOWA developed its own twin-engine diesel locomotive for production at Lokomotivbau Karl Marx Babelsberg. To achieve the required power, two V12 turbodiesels, initially each with 900 hp, were selected, which each delivered their power to a bogie via a hydraulic transmission. The designation V 180 was derived from the total output of 1,800 hp. In the absence of suitable transmissions from their own production, Voith transmissions had to be imported from Austria, which were only replaced with indigenous ones late in the series.
The first series had two two-axle bogies and, with an axle load of 19.5 tonnes, were only suitable for main lines. After two prototypes and 85 series locomotives of this V 1800, 82 V 1801 with two times 1,000 hp were built. All series locomotives of the V 1800 were also subsequently equipped with these engines. A steam boiler was provided for train heating, occupying the space between the engines. A total of three locomotives were equipped with fiberglass canopies with forward-sloping windscreens, which were intended to reduce reflections and did not catch on.
After it was determined that a locomotive of this power class would also be suitable for branch lines, production was switched to a six-axle variant with an axle load of 15.5 tonnes from 1966. This became the V 1802 and the last engines were assigned to the class 1182 right from the factory. From 1981, 179 of the 206 six-axle units were fitted with new engines, each capable of 1,200 hp thanks to intercooling. Seven pieces of the four-axle variant also had this engine. A total of three four- and six-axle prototypes were tested with 1,400 and 1,500 hp engines. Since the 3,000 hp class 130 was already available at that time, no series production took place.
Before the delivery of the class 130 locomotives, the V 180 was also used to pull heavy express trains, although it was nominally less powerful than the class 01 express steam locomotives. Some of the six-axle locomotives were approved for operation on steep stretches and were therefore used in the Thuringian Forest, for example. Operation in front of passenger trains was soon only possible in summer because there was no electric train heating. The locomotives now known as the class 228 did not have a long life on the reunified German railway. Many engines were sold to a large number of private operators, some of whom fitted them with new engines and drove them until they were no longer worth using due to their age.