Today Fleischmann is a German manufacturer of model railroad products. As a company, Fleischmann
was originally founded in Nüremberg in 1887 by Jean Fleischmann (1864-1917), as an engraver and maker of handicrafts.
Later, the company began to make toys under the name of Fleischmann Brothers or Gebrüder Fleischmann Nürnberg.
Many of the early products made are found with the GFN markings. Fleischmann is 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 trains for which they are
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 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.
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.
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, and the 'E' signified electric driven.
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 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. These 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.
An 'N' scale "Piccolo" product line was introduced in 1969. 'O' gauge train manufacture was discontinued in 1959.
In the late 1950's Fleischmann tried to tap into the North American market by putting American roadnames on some of
their products. They also produced a 4-6-2 Pacific and a 2-8-2 Mikado in HO scale. Fleischmann supplied passenger and freight cars
to Penn Line 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 baggage, coach, diner and a Pullman. These Fleischmann cars were
phased out by 1960.
Nowadays, Fleischmann is a well-established brand name in the German model
railroad industry, rivalling
Märklin in market share. Since they focus almost exclusively
on central European prototypes, Fleischmann is relatively unknown outside that area. While most Fleischmann
HO products are made for the two-rail direct current system, they also make three-rail, Märklin-compatible (AC)
versions of some locomotives. They also market replacement non-insulated wheelsets for use with their rolling
stock on three-rail systems. The Fleischmann lineup includes the PROFI label, which consists 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 2000, Fleischmann introduced Twin-Technik state of the art
digital control technology. 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 is 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.
Although Roco/Fleischmann products have gained a good reputation, especially with model
railway enthusiasts in the DC/DCC segment, AC train fans do not lose out either. Nearly all engines are
available as third conductor AC systems. 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. Manufacturing continues 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 August 2017 it was announced that Modelleisenbahn GmbH, the holding company for
both Roco and Fleischmann was seeking a new owner.