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0-4-0 Diesel Shunting Locomotive


This very small shunting diesel is another one of the mystery locomotives which may or may not have been actually used in Vietnam.
The only photos I have been able to find are those taken by a Vietnam Railways Forum member of a locomotive in a very poor state hidden at the back of a workshop (I believe at the Thai Nguyen Steel Works).

Deutches Reichban (DR-East German Railways) built 249 of these tiny shunting locomotives in the 60's and 70's. They were based on an original machine built in 1958 by LKM, Babelsberg, German Democratic Republic. Apparently some 20 'prototypes' were built before the full production run. The locomotives were not permitted on the main line as they were too slow, so were used as station shunters and within the grounds of manufacturing works where the did excellent work despite their small size. When no longer required by the re-united Germany they found homes in many industrial sites.

This locomotive was probably supplied by East Germany or another Eastern European country, possibly when the BR52s were supplied, and appears to be standard gauge. There only appears to have been one supplied. Whether it was supplied directly to Thai Nguyen or passed on by the Vietnamese Government is not known.

It appears to have been originally painted a light blue colour which I believe was a fairly standard colour for these locomotives.

This locomotive would make another interesting exhibit at a Vietnamese Railway Museum if one is ever established and if this machine still exists.




Above: Stored V15. Note removal of European style buffers and addition of auto coupler.

Restored East German V15

Above: This locomotive is part of an historic display at Dresden Allstadt. The blue seems to be a darker shade than the Vietnamese machine (or the Vietnamese machine has faded very badly!) and some small details are different.

V15 Data

Diesel (Mechanical?)
Road Number
Builder's Number
Wheel Arrangement
Deutche Reichsban (DR) based on an original industrial locomotive built by LKM Babelsberg, Germany (249 originally built plus 20 "prototypes")
8 metres
Maximum Speed
40 km/h
Service Weight
24.3 tonnes
Tractive Effort
122 kW


Several European Manufacturers make models both in HO and TT Scale. The model below is in HO scale (1/87).

V15 model

Locomotive Classifications

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 in 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?

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Railways in Vietnam website 2009-2014 David Gurnett
  Updated February 4, 2014
All images remain the copyright of their original owners and are reproduced purely for the purposes of research.

Please feel free to contact me at railwaysofvietnam@gmail.com