Steam locomotive

Class D51

1935 - 1975

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

D51 No. 62
At Rumoi dept during Mar.1970.

It may be said that the D51 was the first completed Japanese modern steam locomotive class.
If one were to ask, " What is the most popular steam locomotive in Japan ? " ... the answer would be the D51. D51 has a nickname " Degoichi ". In English, of course D is pronounced D and "go" is five and "ichi" is one. It's not only rail-fans but regular Japanese also, that have a knowledge of this nickname.

D50's manufacturing ceased during 1931 due to an economic downturn. Afterward, there was no new freight model design for awhile. During 1936, there was an increased need for a new freight model, as increased freight meeds were dictated because of the wartime structure.
D51 was planned with this background in mind, so, D51 had almost the same specifications as the class D50. D51's performance was matched for Japan's main and sub-main line tracks, and was very appreciated all over Japan. Therefore, a total of 1,115 (*) No.1 - 954 and No.1001 - 1161 were built. It was the largest single class locomotive manufactured in Japan.
(* JGR - 1115, Taiwan R. - 37, Exported Soviet Union - 30, Total - 1,182) (Korea, standard gauge type - 2.)

The D51 was largely produced and accordingly had some variation.

D51_21 Shinkoiwa depot 1968

An Early Model
No.1-85, 91-100

Characteristically, an uninterrupted covering upper Sand box, Steam dome, Feedwater heater through to the chimney. (with a place feedwater heater parallel on the boiler). It had the nickname "Namekuji" (Slug) from its shape.

D51_600 Tomakomai depot.1971

A Standard Model

This type was the largest manufactured number of the D51s. The upper cover disengaged because of a maintenance problem. With this, the feedwater heater was moved to the head horizontal position. (front of the chimney). The first standard model was manufactured at the Ministry of Railways Hamamatsu workshops during 1937. This D51 was after an interval of 20 years since class 18900, it was a JGR workshop production. Afterward, a total of 228 were manufactured by the Ministry of Railway workshops.

D51_1054 Nara depot.1970

A Wartime Model

This type had a simplified wartime design. Wood was substituted as much as possible, for example, the smoke deflector, land board, Engine number plates... etc. This design concept was it should be usable for several years until the wars end. However, they were remodeled to the standard model after the wars end. A few engines were replaced with a new boiler. The wartime model numbers were assigned after No.1001.

The first D51, D51_14 came on the scene on the 29th of February 1936. (D51 No.1 was completed 2 weeks after on the 22nd of Mar 1936). D51_14 was retired in Nayoro depot July 1973, and is exhibited in Nagareyama city.
After its inception, the D51 went into main line freight train service, and worked with D50s. And that service area was extended to almost all Japanese railways, except for electrification and poor grade local lines.

First D51, D51_14 during Mar 1937
Takatori depot
(Photo credit to K.Nishio)

During 1941-1943, Iburi Jyukan Railway Co. ordered five D51s as Iburi Railway No.D5101-D5105. During July 1944 Iburi Jyukan Railway Co. was nationalized and they were transferred with the ensuing JGR D51's No. 950 - 954.
During 1944, five D51s were ordered from Taiwan Railway as a Taiwan Railway's Class D51 No.28 - 32, but they couldn't be transferred to Taiwan as the war became worse . Therefore, they were renumbered with the ensuing JGR D51's No. 1162 - 1166, and were used in JGR. Later they were transferred to Taiwan after the war end during 1946.

After WW2, thirty-three engines were reconstructed to passenger models C61 from their surplus condition. As with previous D50 to D60's, six engines were altered with a relieved axle load (2-8-2 to 2-8-4), for the purpose of testing and using on more light grade lines. They were named D61.

D51's continued to be active during the post-war period except on Shikoku Island. Yet, 1,042 engines were still active even during 1965, except for those that were remodeled and sent out from the Japanese mainland and those that were discarded due to accidents etc.
Surplus full culling began from 1966. There were 1,042 of D51s during 1965, 5 years later, during 1970, the number was decreased to 756, and was decreased to 342 during 1973, and decreased by 78 during early 1975. However, six D51s survived until the end of steam trains during December 1975. They were Oiwake depot's No. 241, 397, 465, 603, 916 and 1086.
More details are mentioned on this website "The Last days of Japanese Steam Engines Part 3" pages ......

The restored D51_498 remains active on JR East during spring, summer and fall.

Primary ran line in last 10 years Many
Last line/depot and year Muroran, Yubari line / Iwamizawa and Oiwake depot 1975
Restored engine (2017) 2 (No.200, 498)
Preserved engine (2017) 176 (Japan)

Double-Headed D51 No.425 and D51
at Kanehana, Jyomon line Dec.1971.

We can almost hear
the steam as D51 No.348 climbs a slope
on Chuo line at Agematsu
during Dec.1971.

Snow still remains on Mt.Chokai
during late spring as D51 runs
with the wind in the foreground.
Kisakata in Uetu line Mar 1970.

D51_759 banked D51_1185.
At Nakazaike Kansai line May 1971.

Surmounting Sekihoku mountain pass,
triple headed, D51157 + D51897 + 49626.
Jyomon, Sekihoku line Mar 1971.

D51_648 at Imagawa on the Uetu line. Dec 1969

D51_770 over the main street of Tokyo
downtown's Kameido on the Sobu line.
The Sobu line was the last line to run steam
in the City of Tokyo.
Kameido, Sobu line Jan 1969.

D51_944 at Saga, Sanin line. May 1968.

D51 left Haijima station
on the Hachiko line, near Tokyo.
Feb 1969.

At Kosagawa, Uetu line
Mar 1972.

D51_791 etc's D51s at Yokohama depot
during 1968.

D51_194 at Mitani, Yamaguchi line during May 1971.
Yamaguchi line has a restored steam train service
from Aug 1979.

Early model

Standard model

Configuration 2-8-2 Dimensions Length (mm) 19730
Engine Weight (Operating tons) 78.4 Driver size (mm diameter) 1400
Boiler pressure (Kg/cm2) 15.0 Max Tractive effort (tons) 14.9
Driver Max Power (PS) 1280 Max Speed (km/h) 85
Manufactured years 1935-1945 Total production 1115
Remodeling 1 7 -> Class
2-8-4 D61
Remodeling 2 33 -> Class
4-6-4 C61
Number of moved out to other countries in WW2. 5
Gauge 3ft 6in (1067mm)

Class D51's last main line service during March 1975 in Muroran .....

Class D51 No.4 leaves Tomiura. Class D51 double-headed No.597 + No.219
Kuriyama - kurioka


Go to Top