Fleischmann is a German manufacturer of model railroad products offering an extensive range of railway vehicles, track
and accessories in H0 and N gauge. The company was originally founded in Nüremberg in 1887 by Jean Fleischmann (1864-1917),
as an engraver and maker of handicrafts and paper weights. A new factory was built in 1889 at Bielingstrasse 23.
In 1898 the company began to make tin toys, such as ships, airplanes and magnetic maritime toys including swimming and walking animals and water fountains,
under the name of Fleischmann Brothers or Gebrüder Fleischmann Nürnberg. Many of the early products made are found with the GFN markings.
Fleischmann was best known for the production
of toy boats, mostly made of steel, in the 1920's and the 1930's that used clockwork and live steam mechanisms.
Fleischmann bought up the model boat machinery and tooling from Bing when they
ceased to exist in August 1932. Up until that time, Bing had been one of Fleischmann's wholesale customers.
Fleischmann later took over Doll et Cie in 1939 and began making the toy trains for which they are
renowned today. Fleischmann also continued making and selling the line of stationary steam engines that they had acquired from Doll as late as 1959.
When Jean Fleischmann passed away in 1917, his wife Käthe and his brother Jobst took over
running the business. In 1940 sons Johann and Emil Fleischmann took over. Initial train production
was just a continued Doll et Cie product line, and much of the advertising even retained the Doll logo.
During the war years toy production was prohibited by the German government and Fleischmann made gas masks, ammunition belts, visors, plates
and mugs for the military. The Nüremberg factory at Kirchenweg was partially destroyed during the war, but was rebuilt,
and toy production resumed in 1945. After the war Fleischmann got a boost from the Marshall Plan. In the US Zone of Germany,
the 'tin toys for tinned food' program was devised, whereby the toymakers got their factories operational, and sent the entire year's
production to the US, in return for food supplies. This program is the reason that some older Fleischmann engines with 'Made in Germany US Zone'
printed on the bottom, can be found in the US.
Their first new model train, in 'O' scale (32mm), was produced in 1949, and introduced at the Frankfort Toy Fair.
These early products included locomotives and carriages that mimicked the prototypical trains that ran in Germany
during this period. Some of the trains were clockwork powered and some of these trains ran on DC powered 2
rail steel track, that was unique in its use of cardboard for the ties, instead of steel. Using 2 rail DC allowed
the operator the ability to know in advance what direction on the track the trains would travel in. Fleischmann was the first European
manufacturer of 'O' gauge 2-rail DC model railways.
These early 'O' gauge products are the most collectible and sought after, and are quite rare.
The trains made starting in 1949 were the #U or E 320 0-4-0 tank style and #U or E 325 0-4-0 steam
outline locomotive with 4-wheel tender. The 'U'
designation in the catalog number indicated clockwork operation (Uhrwerk-Eisenbahn), and the 'E' signified electric driven (Elektrische-Eisenbahn).
A green painted two-axle #400 coach and #401 luggage van comprised the passenger consist. A Shell tank wagon
with ladder, but no platform, and a closed wagon with the letters 'DR' on each side made up the freight set.
In 1950 Fleischmann released the Elloket E19 2-4-2 electric outline loco in green, red or blue. The following
year, the 'O' gauge line was expanded with additional four-axle and two-piece railcars. These railcars (Triebwagens) were
manufactured with red and cream-colored paint schemes.
The first Fleischmann HO scale products were introduced in 1952 at the Nüremberg Toy Fair.
Like their 'O' scale models, these HO models also utilized 2 rail DC, making Fleischmann the first company to
offer such a product line. Initial offerings included a class 01 steam loco & tender, a class 80 tank loco,
and a class E44 electric loco. By 1953 a new improved motor type was introduced. The initial HO products were a somewhat larger 1:82 scale, but by 1965
Fleischmann began converting to the more standard 1:87 and by 1970 had completed conversion. By 1967 Fleischmann was
equipping their HO trains with modern electronics. Around this time a road racing set from Fleischmann called 'Monte Carlo Rally' was
In 1957 Fleischmann introduced HO track with solid rails. 1958 saw the release of a newer electric motor with a round form factor.
'O' gauge train manufacture was discontinued in 1959, as HO train sales far exceeded that of the 'O' gauge products.
In the late 1950's Fleischmann tried to tap into the North American market by putting American roadnames on some of
their HO products. They also produced an Alco FA-2, a 4-6-2 Pacific and a 2-8-2 Mikado in HO scale specifically for this market.
The FA loco was made of cast metal and was sold as ready-to-run for $14.95 as advertised in a September 1957 issue of Model Railroader magazine.
It was available in Union Pacific, New Haven or Santa Fe liveries and bore the numbers 1341 for the power unit and 1342 for the dummy.
Fleischmann supplied HO passenger and freight cars to Penn Line of Boyertown Pennsylvania for their early sets. The Northern Pacific
60' passenger cars were produced by Fleischmann for Penn Line in 1955 thru 1956 for two different sets. The four die-cast passenger
cars were #425 mail/baggage, #357 coach, #586 diner and a #451 Pullman. These Fleischmann cars were phased out by 1960.
The use of plastic injection molding techniques for locomotives and freight wagons was being implemented starting in 1959.
Construction on the new factory in Heilsbronn began in 1964. By 1966 HO steam outline locomotives, starting with the series 55, now had their
power drive located in the tender instead of the locomotive. 1968 saw the implementation of a brand new product and catalog numbering scheme.
The 'N' scale (1:160) "Piccolo" product line was introduced in 1969. The first release was an industrial diesel loco with three tipper wagons.
Next came a series 50 heavy freight locomotive.
In 1981 Fleischmann released their BR38 and P8 locomotives. 1983 witnessed the introduction of the special sets of the "Länderbahn" period.
Over the next several years Fleischmann became a well-established brand name in the German model
railroad industry, rivalling
Märklin in market share. Since the company's focus was almost exclusively
on central European prototypes, Fleischmann was relatively unknown outside that area. While most Fleischmann
HO products were made for the two-rail direct current system, they also made three-rail, Märklin-compatible (AC)
versions of some locomotives. They also marketed replacement non-insulated wheelsets for use with their rolling
stock on three-rail systems. In 1981 a Fleischmann locomotive running in a window display for 2,299Km set a world record.
The Fleischmann lineup grew to include the PROFI label established in 1982, which consisted of
pre-ballasted track, PROFI couplings for true close coupling operation, and tilt technology found in both
the Pendolino and the ICE-T express train. In 1987 Flesichmann celebrated their 100th anniversary and introduced their FMZ Mehrzugsteuerung
(multi-train) control system for 2-rail.
This unique system facilitated control of an analog locomotive via DC track voltage and a series of pulses.
In 1989 flywheels were added to the motors in locomotives and in 1990 new locomotives were fitted with bronze colored drivers and wheels.
1991 saw the introduction of separate catalogs for HO and N gauges. The Pendolino Line was created in 1994, developed jointly by Fleischmann and Märklin.
The ICE-T high speed train model was released in 1999 and was the first in the line to tilt and bank prototypically when
traversing curves on the track. In 2000, Fleischmann introduced Twin-Technik state of the art
digital control technology for operating multiple trains simultaneously. In February 2008, Fleischmann was acquired by Modelleisenbahn GmbH, the former
Roco Manufacturing Company of Austria, ending 121 years of family ownership of the company, a
historic name in German toy manufacturing. Fleischmann was run as a separate brand under Modelleisenbahn GmbH,
alongside Roco. In January 2009 Roman & Company became the North American
distributor for the Fleischmann product line.
While Roco/Fleischmann products gained a good reputation with model
railway enthusiasts in the DC/DCC segment, AC train fans did not lose out. Nearly all engines were
available as third conductor AC systems. In 2013 Fleischmann released their 1:87 scale version of the flagship German Rail
407 BR ICE transport series. Fleischmann HO items with new tooling in 2015 included a
variety of 2 and 3 axle compartment coaches for the OBB, DB, DR and CSD lines. The class E 160 2-6-0 electric
switcher was re-engineered for era IV. The N gauge 9-mm scale product line now consisted of 350 models.
Manufacturing continued to take place at 3 locations in Europe and
in a modern company headquarters located in Heilsbronn, less than 30 kilometers away from the
original factory and headquarters in Nüremberg.
The German newspaper Der Spiegel reported on May 5, 2015 that model railroad manufacturer Fleischmann had filed
an application for insolvency and the company wanted to attempt a successful restart. The company, headquartered in Heilsbronn, Germany,
filed an application with the Ambach court in Ansbach. In 2016 Fleischmann scaled down manufacturing to 2 locations with its plant in Arad
making track and with its factory in Heilsbronn housing the company headquarters, executive management, worldwide sales and marketing departments,
product management, administration plus the service department and spare parts warehouse. The major part of toolmaking was also located in Heilsbronn and
this was where the injection molds for locomotives and coaches were produced. Another core part of the facility was locomotive, coach and wagon manufacturing,
including plastic injection molding, painting and printing. 2017 marked the 130 year anniversary of Fleischmann and the company commemorated this milestone
with the release of a Gruppenverwaltung Bayern Anniversary Set in HO headed by a class EP 5 DRG loco and with N and HO scale Swiss Private Railway Rack & Pinion type
starter sets. In August 2017 it was announced that Modelleisenbahn GmbH, the holding company for
both Roco and Fleischmann was seeking a new owner.
Fleischmann museum in Sweden