Japanese
Steam locomotive

Class C55

1934 - 1975

A middle to large Tender-Engine for main and sub-main line passenger trains.


C55 No. 53
leaveing at Nakatsu, on the Nippo line.
April 1959.
(Photo credit to S.Sumino)

The Class C55 was an improved model of the C51 and C54. A total of 62 (*) engines were produced from 1934 until 1937 when the C57 made its appearance. C55 was the pioneer of Japanese modern standard passenger engines and led to the later model D51 and C57 with more modern technological advancement. The C55 adopted a Smoke Deflector, Sand box and Steam dome all-in-one from the original design for the first time.
(* JGR - 62, Taiwan R.- 9, Total - 71)

The first C55 was manufactured at the Kawasaki Rolling Stock Manufacturing Co. during March 1935 as it's serial number was 1538. After its inception, the C55 was utilized for many years on the Hakodate, Tohoku, Ou, Kansai, Sanin and Nippo lines.



Streamlines C55 No.20, Miyahara depot
Feb 1936
(Photo credit to JNR Takatori workshop)
The streamlined type of construction that became evident in the C55 resulted in a total of twenty-one individual engines, numbers 20 to 40. It was the same type of construction that was enjoying popularity in the US and Europe. But, streamline construction was not of great concern below speeds of 90 km/hr. However, during 1950-1951, it became necessary to revert back to the original less streamline design due to the many maintenance problems which presented themselves.

After WW2, all 62 C55s still existed up to 1963, and their culling began from 1964. However, 6 years later during 1970, their numbers were decreased to 17.

They were ;
5 in the Asahikawa depot (No.1, 30, 47, 49 and 50) for the Soya line,
6 in the Wakamatsu depot (No.19, 46, 51, 52, 53 and 57) for the Chikuho line.
5 in the Yoshimatsu depot (No.10, 26, 27, 30 and 34) for the Kitto, Nippo and Hisatsu line,
1 in the Tosu depot (No.13) ... out of service.

Finally, the last C55s survived at Japan's north and south ends.
The northern edges last C55s were Asahikawa depot's No.30 and 50 and they saw service on the Soya line until October 1974.
The south edges last C55s were Kagoshima depot's No.52 and 57, and they saw service up to March 1975 on the Nippo line.


Primary ran line in last 10 years Soya, Bantan, and Nippo line.
Last line/depot and year South part of Nippo line / Kagoshima depot Mar.1975
Restored engine (2017) none
Preserved engine (2017) 4 (No.1, 50, 52, 53)



Remnants of the original streamline shape
could be seen in the original streamline design
by a "bump" just foreward of the cab.
In this photo the "bump" is not apparent on C55-30.
Mar 1970 in Asahikawa.

C55-14 at Usa-Jingu, Nippo line
April 1959.
(Photo credit to S.Sumino)


Turn-Headed operation C55.
Mar 1968 Minami-Wakkanai.


Winter operations on Japan's northern island
has a C55 during its last active phase on the Soya line.
C55-47 leaves Wakkanai located
on the northernmost tip of Japan.
Mar 1971.

The last C55, C55-57 at the Yoshimatsu depot.
During Mar 1974.
(Photo credit to Nicholas Pertwee)






Configuration 4-6-2 Dimensions Length (mm) 20380
Engine Weight (Operating tons) 66.0 Driver size (mm diameter) 1750
Boiler pressure (Kg/cm2) 14.0 Max Tractive effort (tons) 10.2
Driver Max Power (PS) 1040 Max Speed (km/h) 100
Manufactured years 1934-1937 Total production 62
Gauge 3ft 6in (1067mm)


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