In 1933, the German State Railroad (DRG) ordered a 2-8-2 locomotive from AEG for heavy express train service. The first unit of the new class E 18 was delivered in May of 1935 and was promptly entered experimental operation. This locomotive exceeded all expectations and even reached 165 km/h / 103 mph in test runs. Road number E 18 22 was presented at the Paris World Exhibition as the most powerful electric single-frame locomotive in the world and won three Grand Prix there. The streamlined shape was new on these locomotives as was the extensive application of welding technology.
Road numbers E 18 01-44 and 045-053 were delivered by January of 1940. The Austrian railroad also ordered eight units of this successful type in a slightly modified version. After the absorption of Austria in 1938, these units ran on the DRG as the class E 18.2. By the end of the war, numerous units of these locomotives were burned up by bombs or destroyed by accidents. In addition to Austrian E 18.2, road number E 18 42 and the damaged 046 also remained on the ÖBB after 1945. E 18 42 was designated 1118.01 in the numbering system in effect starting in 1953, and the E 18.2 then ran as 1018.01-08. The stored road number E 18 046 was rebuilt again by December of 1952 using parts from road number E 18 206 that had been heavily damaged by an air raid and that had already been retired. E 18 046 then ran as a "hybrid locomotive" under the designation 1018.101.
Eleven locomotives were present in the Soviet occupation zone. After the cessation of electric train operations, they went in 1946 to the USSR and came back in 1952.
After years of work, the DB was able to put 39 units back in operation, including the five locomotives acquired from the DR. In addition in 1955 two more locomotives were built (E 18 054 and 055) by Krupp from large parts still available. These 41 units ran all over Southern Germany. Starting in the summer of 1974, these locomotives were now run as the computer-generated class 118 and were concentrated at Würzburg. Three units (118 013, 028, and 049) were even painted in 1975/76 in the ocean blue / ivory paint schemed so unpopular among railroad fans. At the start of the Eighties, the class 118's star began to sink rapidly, and in the beginning of the summer of 1984, regular scheduled use ended. The last 118 locomotives were retired on July 31, 1984.
Between 1958 and 1960 the DR rebuilt road numbers E 18 19, 31, and 40 from their roster of damaged locomotives. In 1969, road numbers E 18 19 and 40 mutated into 180 km/h / 112 mph express locomotives for the VES-M in Halle. However, road number E 18 40 crashed on August 29, 1969 during its acceptance run and had to be stored heavily damaged. In 1970, road number E 18 31 was therefore converted to a second express locomotive with many parts from the crashed E 18 40. Starting in the fall of 1977 both of these E 18 units (starting in 1970: 218) were kept in reserve and for special runs only.
Road number E 18 047 is currently operational, and road numbers E 18 03, 08, 19, 24, 31, 204 (former 1018.04), and 1018.05 have been preserved.