C62 Class 4-6-4 'Swallows', JAPAN 1949
the MODEL C62 Class 4-6-4 by ARII
Click on the small images to go to a larger version of the photo
Steam Locomotive C62 1:50 by Arii Plastic Models.
Display Model Kit. Made in Japan.
Model Size: L 429mm. W 56mm. H 80mm.

the TRAIN C62 Class 4-6-4 "SWALLOWS". 1949.

The above picture is Astor's super expensive version of the C62. A good modeler would be able to get this quality look with the Arii model featured in this article.

Train worship is even more of a religion in Japan than it is in America or Britain and the "C62"s or "Swallows" as they were sometimes known, were certainly enshrined at the summit in this respect.

Before they became world leaders in so many branches of technology, the Japanese were famous as imitators. In some ways - railway safety and signalling was one - they took British ways as their model, but as regards steam locomotives the basis of their practice was American. This has applied ever since Baldwin of Philadelphia supplied Japan with some 2-8-2s in 1897, thereby giving the type-name Mikado to the most prolific of the world's wheel arrangements.

So in recent years Japanese locomotives have usually been neat and elegant miniature versions, to a scale of about three quarters, of the typical US two-cylinder locomotive, to suit the 3ft 6in (1,067mm) gauge. The last word in express passenger locomotives in Japan were these forty-nine 4-6-4s of the "C-62" class and they were no exception to the rule; yet in details they were very distinctive. They were the results of a rather substantial rebuilding of some Mikados of Class "D52"- a heavier version of the standard "D51" class constructed during World War 11. The work was done by outside firms, Hitachi, Kawasaki and Kisha Seizo Kaisha.

One suspects that this way of doing things was to circumvent some government or accountant's restriction on building new passenger motive power - little of the machinery could have been re-used and the saving of actual folding money must have been negligible. But such things are a familiar feature of locomotive practice the world over and, anyway, no one can complain about the results, which were superb in both practical and aesthetic terms. Train worship is even more of a religion in Japan than it is in America or Britain and the "C62"s or
"Tsubame" (Swallows) (see story below) as they were sometimes known, were certainly enshrined at the summit in this respect.

Features worthy of note provided as standard on the larger Japanese steam locomotive include electric light and a feed-water heater complete with steam pump. There are disc wheels all round, the driving wheels having rather prominent lightening holes. The steam dome is inside the sand dome, the latter keeping the former warm and dry. There is no footplate at the front end of the tender - the cab overhangs the leading pair of wheels, while a shovelling plate extends forward from the tender into the cab.

he C62s were used on the Tokyo - Osaka service, and attained a Japanese record of 129kph. Twenty years ago they could be found hauling the top trains - such as the Hatsukari or Migratory Goose Express - out of Tokyo's main station, but now not only has steam locomotion disappeared from these narrow (3ft 6in - 1,067mm) gauge lines but long-distance daytime passenger trains as well. They have migrated to the standard gauge electric Shin Kansen network on which the famous bullet trains provide 100mph (160km/h) service start-to-stop several times each hour.

The 4-6-4s, however, for a number of years found a haven in Japan's main northern island, Hokkaido, working-often in pairs and occasionally in threes - the main expresses out of Hakkodate, the ferryboat port at its southern tip. When this finally came to an end two of these giants were set aside for preservation. One (No.C62-2) is on display at the Umekoji Museum Depot at Kyoto, on the Japanese main island, while the other (No C62-3) is kept at Otaro on the northern island of Hokkaido and run on special occasions.

The bold lines of one of the Japanese railways "C62 " class 4-6-4s, popularly known as the 'Swallows".

A pair of Japanese National Railways' "C62" class 4-6-4 locomotives head an express train in Hokkaido Island
C62 Class 4-6-4 Japan National Railways 1949
Tractive effort 30,690 lb (13,925kg)
Axle load 36,500 lb (I6.5t)
Cylinders (2) 20 1/2 x 26in (521 x 660mm)
Driving wheels 69in (1,750mm)
Heating surface* 2,640sq ft (245m2)
Superheater included above
Steam pressure 228psi (16kg/cm2)
Grate area 41.5sq ft (3.85m2)
Fuel 22,000 lb (10t)
Water 4,850gall (5,820 US) (22m3)
Adhesive weight 142,500 lb (64.5t)
Total weight 356,000 lb (101.5t)
Length overall 70ft 5 1/2in (21,475mm). (*including superheater)

On the 20th March 2008 I received an interesting email from David Bamford.

Hello Jon,
I think that I might be able to shed just a little light on the origin of the naming of the 'Swallow' class of locomotives.
The 'Swallow' device on the smoke deflector of the model is exactly that which originated in the children's novel "Swallows and Amazons" by British novelist Arthur Ransome. The stylised 'bird' was used on a burgee for the dinghy used by the children in the story.
This then causes a further mystery as to how a Steam Locomotive in Japan became named for a sailing dinghy in a British children's story. Was there an Arthur Ransome fan in the design office of Japanese railways at the time of the design of the C62 locos? The locos look quite modern, and quite possibly post-war. Was there a British engineer helping in the post-war reconstruction of the railway fleet?
I have posed these questions to the forum of the Arthur Ransome Society for debate. It is of some interest to know that the Arthur Ransome Club of Japan actually pre-dates the formation of the Arthur Ransome Society in the U.K.
Correspondent "Paul" on the Arthur Ransome forum has learned that the C62s were used on the Tokyo - Osaka service, and attained a Japanese record of 129km/hr, which I would have thought not particularly fast for as steam train. There were two trains, "Tsubame" or Swallow and "Hato", or Pigeon, which does in a way continue the likelihood of an Arthur Ransome connection, as he wrote a book called "Pigeon Post" after "Swallows and Amazons". There would never have been a chance of 'Amazon' being used, as it is unlikely to have an equivalent word in Japanese. Much better to continue the [flies like a ] bird theme.
Best regards,
David Bamford,
Australian Co-ordinator,
Arthur Ransome Society Ltd.
Arthur Ransome Society (Aust) web site
Arthur Ransome Society (UK) web site

"Swallows and Amazons" by Arthur Ransome
Swallows and Amazons is a series of children's books by English author Arthur Ransome, named after the title of the first book in the series. The 12 books involve adventures by groups of children during school vacations, mostly in England and Scotland, between the two World Wars. The stories revolve around outdoor activities, especially sailing.

The series remains popular today for its idyllic, yet often realistic, depiction of childhood and the interplay between youthful imagination and reality. It is part of the basis for a large tourist industry in the Lake District and Norfolk Broads areas of England, where many of the books are set. There are also several societies dedicated to the study and promotion of Ransome's work which are largely inspired by the series. The first was the Arthur Ransome Club in Japan. There is also the British-based group, The Arthur Ransome Society, which has an international membership.

The series begins with Swallows and Amazons, published in 1930. It tells the story of the Walker children, who sail a dinghy named Swallow, and the Blackett children, who sail a dinghy named Amazon. The Walkers are staying at a farm near a lake during the school holidays; the Blacketts live in a house on the opposite shore. The children meet on an island on the lake, and have a series of adventures that weave imaginative tales of pirates and exploration into everyday life in inter-War, rural England.

The Swallows image on the left flag, as it appeared in the Swallows and Amazons books

Steam Locomotive C62 1:50 by Arii.

This very rare kit makes a beautiful model. Model size - Length 429mm Width 56mm Height 80mm.
Kit description: ARII Steam Locomotive C62 Type. Scale 1:50 Display Model. Kit number A553-6000

I purchased this kit in 2003 for just under $100 euro from Japan Model Railways in Germany.
Their internet and mail service was Five Star. Contact details at the bottom of the page.

At right is a detail of the fire box panel.

4 other models were produced in this range, as follows:
Japan Model Railways
Japan Toy Service
Westenmauer 39
D-59174 Kamen

Tel +49 / 2307 / 240938
eMail info@japanmodelrailways.com
Web www.japanmodelrailways.com

Any comments, please contact me at jcrooke@hyperstimulator.com

Every effort has been made to trace the owners of copyright and we apologise to any we have been unable to contact

Jon Crooke

7 February 2005 (last modified 20/03/08)