B-B Diesel Electric
Above: Builder's photo of BB701 ready for shipment.
Above: BB903 is seen in stills taken from a US movie, captured around July 1967 as BB903 was switching (shunting) Saigon yard.
These six locomotives were built by Alsthom/SACM in France.
They were part of a French assistance package to South Vietnam. This seems to be a standard narrow gauge locomotive type produced for many of France's ex colonies. The diagram below identifies it as model "Union Francaise" (French Union).
They are virtually identical to metre gauge locomotives supplied to Portugal and Spain and several African countries.
The locomotives were powered by SACM's own MGO (MAREP Grosshaus Ollier) diesel engine rated at 590 Kw/850 hp.
There were six locomotives of this type delivered to the southern system in 1959 as part of French assistance. Some sources give the build year as 1955. Note the brand new silver US boxcar in the background. Many are still in service with DSVN though painted boxcar red.
According to Trains Magazine 901, 904 and 906 were at some stage based in the 'Central' section with 902, 903 and 905 in Saigon in 1968.
Above: News report in 1967 of unknown BB901 class off the rails after Viet Cong mine explosion.
They presumably would have been classified D8E or D9E if they had lasted till that classification system was introduced but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Even though at least one locomotive still survived in 1972 (see photo below), there is no evidence that any survived the war. As there was a surplus of BB907 locomotives, they were probably not needed.
Above: BB902 in Saigon
Above: Unknown BB901 class in the "Central" region.
Above: BB902. The photo apears to show the unit at the time of delivery.
Above: Colour photo of BB902 at Saigon. Possibly artificially coloured.
Above: A very clean BB906 (newly delivered?). Screendump from a movie taken in Saigon.
Above: Unknown BB901 class shunting (switching) in Saigon 1972.
Photo by John Beirne on Mike Condren's website "condrenrails.com"
Above: Similar (identical?) locomotives supplied to the Djibouti-Etheopian Railway. Interesting that 6 units were supplied (same number as Vietnam) and the year built is given as 1955.
Below are similar units in Portuguese, Spanish and African service.
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. Each class was/is also allocated a unique set of road numbers, usually starting with x01. EG. 231-501. This means you can have more than one class with the same first 3 numbers.
Diesel locomotives have a completely dfferent clasification system.
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 each class has a unique set of road numbers allocated. For example D20E 001-016.
I am still investigating pre 1975 classifications. Some are the same e.g. 141 steam class, and some use the French Diesel system e.g. 'BB' class instead of D9E.
The practice of allocating unique sets of road numbers remains the same.
Diesels and steam locomotives in the south also seem to have had their road numbers changed after 1975 re-unification.
I also believe there was a complete overhaul of locomotive numbers in 1939, so locomotives before that time were numbered differently (usually just a road number).
Railways in Vietnam
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