131 Class/C12 Class
2-6-2/ 1-3-1 Tank Locomotive
Some 293 of these 2-6-2 tank locomotives were built in Japan between 1932 and 1947 for that countries 1067mm (3ft 6inch) lines. It is believed a total of 66 engines were moved by the Japanese Army to Northern China and Sakhalin during WW2. There is actually a figure of 1938-39 on the Japanese Wikepedia entry. Of those sent to Northern China, 60 engines were converted to narrow gauge (C12101 - C12160). (1067mm 3ft-6in -> 1000mm). In Japan they were classified as C12. They were built by a number of Japanese companies, including Hitachi, Kawasaki and Mitsubishi.
The following table outlines the various builders:
The original delivery dates and numbers used in Northern China:The locomotives were classified as PL51 by the new Chinese Government in 1950. However when the metre gauge line used by PL51s was converted to standard gauge (1435 mm) in 1956, the remaining locomotives were surplus and so sent to North Vietnam.
In 1956 these machines (or at least those remaining) were transferred to North Vietnam by the new Chinese government for use on the metre gauge line between Vietnam and China (Kunming).
As several survived through to the diesel era they must have been quite a useful machine. Similar locomotives were also used in Korea and Indonesia. The last surviving locomotives were used at the Thai Nguyen Steel Works including locomotives 131-402 (seen in a 2007 fan tour) and 131-436 in a photo below.
The following photo was discovered in the Vietnam AirForce Museum in Hanoi (of all places) on my March 2011 visit. It's a little fuzzy but the caption states that it is being used on the Hanoi-Hai Phong line.There are also several photos on the DSVN web site which also seem to show 131 class locomotives in northern service. The Trains Magazine list of steam locomotives in the south in 1968-9 has no Japanese 131 class locomotives listed. This confirms that the locomotives were delivered to the north after partition in 1954.
As the numbering system for locomotives usually started at 01 then 401 would be the first class member. The highest road number so far identified is 131-444 (see photo below). Does this mean that at least 44 of the 60 made it to Vietnam?
In the book "Illustrated Book of Steam and Rail' By Colin Garratt and Max Wade-Matthews there is a small photo of 131-444 at Hai Phong in 1989. So we can now guess that of the 60 C12's converted to metre gauge at least 44 went to Vietnam. How many were destroyed by US bombing during the war and how many survived after 1975 is not known.
This book was originally published as two separate books in 1998. The publisher regularly republishes it (them) with a different cover but no updates but presents it as a new book. The book (books) is therefore wildly out of date and has many mistakes. For example it claims that "French influence can be seen in the locomotive...." which is obviously wrong, and says nothing about it's Japanese
origins. Recently I noted the same two books 'newly' published in my local bookshop as a boxed set! Boy! Apparently you can trick most of the people most of the time!
There is a problem in relation to exactly which locomotives of the 60 actually made it to Vietnam. While builders numbers have been identified on several machines , they don't always match. There are parts with more than one builders's number on the same locomotive so it would seem that some of the locomotives may have been cannibalised or rebuilt with parts from others. This seems reasonable allowing for the needs of the northern system during the war. It has been identified that 131-436 was probably C12-106 but there is still some doubt.
Above: 131-444 at Haiphong in 1989.
Above: Three images of 131 class locomotives being used in the north. VNR Website. 131-424, 131-426(?) and possibly 131-402.
Above: 131 class no. 436 in and around Thai Nguyen steel works (source: http://tsuzuki.photoland-aris.com/vietnam/131/)
This particular locomotive (131- 428) is on display at Dalat, though it probably never ran there in revenue service. Some records suggest that it is still serviceable but I have my doubts.
Data of C12 class
Above: 131-416 at Hanoi Depot with unknown 141 class behind and 131-424 on an adjacent track. There is another locomotive behind the 141 which I have yet to identify.
131- 428 at Dalat
These images were taken at Da Lat in July 2010. The locomotive doesn't seem to go anywhere but is quite popular for wedding photos etc.
Click on thumbnail images below for full size.
Steam Locomotives generally used the traditional French classification system. A steam locomotive with a 2-8-2 wheel arrangement is classified as 141 class, a locomotive with 4-6-2 wheel arrangement is classified as 231 class etc. Pretty straight forward, except what happened if two classes had the same wheel arrangement? It would appear that there would be several different say 231 classes eg. 231-301 and 231-501.
Diesel locomotives have a completely dfferent clasification system.
In the south diesels were classified again by wheels, so BB for bo-bo types. The same system as used in France and still used iietn Cambodia. In the north I'm not sure.
Now all diesel classes start with the letter 'D' (for diesel) then a number which I believe is related to the locomotives power output. The third character defines Electric' (E) or hydraulic (H).
e.g. D5H class = Diesel + 500 hp + hydraulic.
Again, what happens if two classes are the same I don't know.
Therefore it would appear that metre guage locomotives can have the same class but not the same road number.
Standard guage locomotives have a slightly different system. Diesel sometimes have 'er' added to the class e.g. D19er, but sometimes don't, e.g. D14E. Steam?
Railways in Vietnam
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