Around 1900, the operation on the Höllentalbahn in the Black Forest was handled with rack locomotives, as this included gradients of up to 5.5 percent. With increasing traffic on this main line, however, this operation was no longer reasonable, which is why an alternative with shorter travel times was sought. The solution was a powerful tank locomotive that was to run the entire route. Only on the steepest section it was intended that the train should be pushed by a rack locomotive. The development was the first tank locomotive with a 2-6-2T wheel arrangement in Germany, with which one had expected not only a high tractive effort but also identical running characteristics in both directions of travel.
In order to achieve a symmetrical construction of the chassis, both carrying axles were designed as Adams axles and all three coupled axles were fixed in the frame. Only the middle coupled axle was given weakened wheel flanges. This axle was driven via short connecting rods. A distinctive feature of the locomotives were the two steam domes on the front section of the boiler barrel, which were connected via a compensating pipe. The locomotives of all batches used saturated steam. Despite the lower weight compared to the later VI c, an output of around 540 hp was achieved.
Production comprised a total of eleven batches, the first nine of which were built between 1900 and 1908 by Maffei and the Karlsruhe mechanical engineering company. This made 131 copies, nine of which had to be handed over to Alsace-Lorraine and Belgium as reparations after the war. The rest were taken over by the Reichsbahn and given the numbers between 75 101 and 75 258, including some gaps.
In the years 1921 and 1923 another 42 pieces were procured by the Reichsbahn as 75 261 to 75 302. There had always been deviations between the individual batches, which mainly affected the weight and dimensions. Some locomotives had been given an inclined firebox and/or a counter-pressure brake for steep stretches. In addition, the coal supply was increased by an extension from initially two to three tonnes. The decommissioning of some of the locomotives had already begun in 1933. Since most of the remaining vehicles remained in their original area, after the Second World War the vast majority of them, 117 units, came to the Bundesbahn, where most were retired by 1957, but a few were not retired until 1962. Only seven units remained in the east with the Reichsbahn, some of which were used until 1965.