The S 3 was developed from the S 2, which was the first locomotive with a 4-4-0 wheel arrangement in Prussia and was also built for testing with a compound engine from 1891. With 1,027 examples, the S 3 became the most numerous express locomotive in Germany.
The boiler and engine of the variants with compound cylinders were taken over from the P 2. Initially, this technology caused problems when starting with only two cylinders, but these had now been resolved. Benefits could now be drawn from the lower steam consumption. A total of four different models were used as tenders, which had three or four axles. Now that longer turntables were available, the wheelbase could be lengthened, which in turn improved running smoothness. The locomotive had a maximum speed of 100 km/h (62 mph) and could still reach 75 km/h on the flat with a 320-tonne express train consisting of ten cars.
Since the S 5 with four cylinders developed from 1900 could not prove itself, a more powerful version of the S 3 with a larger boiler and larger cylinders was developed. It was designated as S 52 from 1911 and was built 367 times.
Sectional drawing with dimensions
Die Lokomotive, October 1914
Due to the number of over 1,000 units, the S 3 was used in all divisions of the Prussian State Railways. During the First World War, about a tenth of them came to Poland and Lithuania, some of whom returned to Germany in the Second World War. Although the Reichsbahn's 1923 renumbering plan included 451 units a class 130, most of them were decommissioned in the following time, which is why there were only 27 units left when the renumbering was carried out in 1925. After the war, some of these locomotives and those that had returned from abroad were used by the Reichsbahn in the GDR and one by the Federal Railways, where they were retired in 1955 and 1950.