Conceived in 1937 when Oliver Bulleid became Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern Railway, the Merchant Navy Class represented Bulleid’s vision for a quick accelerating, mixed traffic 4-6-2 locomotive, equally capable of hauling passenger services (such as the Golden Arrow and Atlantic Coast Expresses), or freight workings, to a speed of around 75mph.In 1934, Bulleid had been opposed the use of streamlining, but for the Merchant Navy’s ‘air-smoothed’ design it suited his purposes, being easy to clean mechanically and hiding the boiler’s external pipes, which in turn meant they could be run for function, rather than aesthetics.
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