4-4-2 (locomotive)

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Front of locomotive to the left
Baldwin built Milwaukee Road class A2 no. 919, November 1901

A 4-4-2 Locomotive refers to the classification of locomotives under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives by wheel arrangement, where 4-4-2 represents a configuration of four leading wheels on two axles, usually in a leading bogie with a single pivot point, four powered and coupled driving wheels on two axles giving tractive effort, and two trailing wheels on one axle, usually in a trailing truck which supports part of the weight of the boiler and firebox and gives the class its main improvement over the 4-4-0 configuration.

This wheel arrangement is commonly known as the Atlantic type, although it is also sometimes called a Milwaukee or 4-4-2 Milwaukee, after the Milwaukee Road which employed them in high speed passenger railroad uses.

Other equivalent classifications are:


While the wheel arrangement and type name Atlantic would come to fame in the fast passenger service competition between railroads in the United States by mid-1895,[1] the tank locomotive version of the 4-4-2 Atlantic type first made its appearance in the United Kingdom (UK) in 1880, when William Adams designed the 1 Class 4-4-2T of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway (LT&SR).[2] The 4-4-2T is the tank equivalent of a 4-4-0 American tender locomotive, but with the frame extended to allow for a fuel bunker behind the cab. This necessitated the addition of a trailing truck to support the additional weight at the rear end of the locomotive. As such, the tank version of the 4-4-2 wheel arrangement appeared earlier than the tender version.

The tender version of the 4-4-2 originated in the United States of America, evolving from the less stable 2-4-2 Columbia wheel arrangement, and was built especially for mainline passenger express services. One advantage of the type over its predecessor 4-4-0 American type was that the trailing wheels allowed a larger and deeper firebox to be placed behind the driving wheels.[3]

A 4-4-2 inspection locomotive of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad

The first use of the 4-4-2 wheel arrangement for a tender locomotive was under an experimental double-firebox locomotive built to the design of George Strong at the Hinkley Locomotive Works in 1888. The locomotive was not successful and was scrapped soon afterwards. The wheel arrangement was named after the second American 4-4-2 tender locomotive class, built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1894 for use on the Atlantic City line of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway.[4]

Baldwin's ideas on 4-4-2 tender locomotives were soon copied in the United Kingdom, initially by Henry Ivatt of the Great Northern Railway (GNR) with his GNR Class C1 "Klondyke Atlantic" of 1898. These were quickly followed by John Aspinall's Class 7, known as the "High-Flyer", for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR).



The KFNB IId Class

The first European Atlantic locomotive type was the Austro-Hungarian IId class of the Kaiser Ferdinands-Nordbahn (KFNB). It was built from 1895 and later became the 308 class on the Imperial Royal State Railways (kaiserlich und königlich Staatsbahnen or kkStB).

It was followed from 1901 by the XVIb class of the Austrian Northwestern Railway (Österreichische Nordwestbahn or ÖNWB) that later became the kkStB class 208, and then by the kkStB 108 class. They were not numerous, though. All three classes together numbered a little more than one hundred locomotives.[5]

Apart from the Austrian locomotives, the Hungarian State Railways (Magyar Államvasutak or MÁV) also operated some Atlantic classes.


SNCB Class 12 No. 12004, circa 1940

In 1939 The National Railway Company of Belgium (NMBS/SNCB) introduced six Class 12 streamlined Atlantic locomotives on the fast lightweight boat trains that ran on the 124 kilometres (77 miles) line between Brussels and Ostend. Designed by Raoul Notesse to be capable of speeds of 120 to 140 kilometres per hour (75 to 87 miles per hour) and based on the successful Canadian Pacific Railway 4-4-4 Jubilee semi-streamlined locomotives, but incorporating the ideas on streamlining of André Huet, they were built by John Cockerill at Seraing. They were fully streamlined, except for openings to provide access to the valve gear and motion, and had inside cylinders with outside valve gear to reduce oscillation at speed. The class remained in service until 1962.[6][7]


Prussian S 7 Class

The Atlantic, known in Germany as the 2'B1' wheel arrangement, enjoyed some short-lived popularity in the German states. Between 1902 and 1906 the S 7 class of the Prussian state railways was built to two competing designs, 159 locomotives to the design of August von Borries and 79 locomotives to that of Alfred de Glehn. Between 1908 and 1910 Hanomag built ninety-nine Prussian S 9 locomotives. All were four-cylinder compound engines working on saturated steam. The Prussian Atlantics were withdrawn shortly after World War I and some were given to France, Belgium and Poland.[8]

Atlantics were also adopted in some other German states.


In India the broad gauge E class was rebuilt in the 1940s and survived into the 1970s.


By the 1980s the last Atlantics at work in the world were a few 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) examples in Mozambique. These survived reported retirements to operate into the beginning of the 21st century, becoming some of the last working steam in the country. Exceptionally, they had outlasted much larger and newer power, including Garratt locomotives.

South Africa[edit]

Cape Government Railways 4th Class, the only South African Atlantic

In 1897 additional locomotives were urgently required by the Cape Government Railways (CGR) for the section south of Kimberley, at a time when locomotive production in England was being disrupted by strikes, while simultaneously the steamship companies had suddenly doubled all their freight rates to the Cape. As a result, six locomotives were ordered from Baldwin Locomotive Works in the United States of America. These were built in addition to a just fulfilled order of Atlantics, built for and to a design by the 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Japanese Railways.[9][10]

The locomotives were completed within sixty days of receipt of the order and, to circumvent the exorbitant freight charges of the steamship lines, were shipped to the Cape by sailing ship, with the result that the steamship companies promptly reverted to their old rates. Nicknamed the "Hatracks", the locomotives were designated 4th Class on the CGR. When they came into South African Railways (SAR) stock in 1912, they were considered obsolete and designated Class O4. They remained in SAR service until 1931.[9][10]

United Kingdom[edit]

Tank locomotives[edit]

The 4-4-2T Atlantic was introduced into the United Kingdom (UK) in 1880 by William Adams, who designed the LT&SR 1 Class on behalf of Thomas Whitelegg of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway (LT&SR). This was the first use of this wheel arrangement in the world. It was intended for heavy suburban trains around London, and thirty-six locomotives were built by Sharp Stewart and Company and Nasmyth, Wilson and Company between 1880 and 1892.[2] Adams later developed the type into his successful suburban 415 class for the London and South Western Railway.[11]

The LT&SR continued to build 4-4-2T tank locomotives after 1897, with the Class 37, Class 51 and Class 79. Henry Ivatt of the Great Northern Railway (GNR) also built sixty Class C2 tank locomotives between 1898 and 1907, for use on local and commuter trains in Yorkshire and North London.

During the first decade of the twentieth century the Atlantic tank locomotive became very popular in the UK.

Tender locomotives[edit]

The GNR’s Class C1 "Small Boiler Klondyke Atlantic" of 1898, "Henry Oakley"

Following Henry Ivatt’s GNR Class C1 "Klondyke Atlantic" of 1898 and John Aspinall's L&YR Class 7 "High-Flyer", of which forty were built between 1899 and 1902, a lot of interest was shown in the Atlantic type by British railways during the first decade of the twentieth century, especially for express passenger train service. Between 1902 and 1908 Ivatt built eighty larger boilered versions of his GNR Class C1, which were known as the "Large Boiler Class C1". These remained in service until the early 1950s.

In 1903, for use in comparative trials against his own designs, George Jackson Churchward of the Great Western Railway (GWR) purchased three French De Glehn compound 4-4-2s, beginning with the GWR no. 102 "La France" and followed by two larger locomotives in 1905. Fourteen members of his two-cylinder 2900 "Saint" class locomotives were subsequently either built or rebuilt with this wheel arrangement, including one four-cylinder GWR 4000 "Star" class, no. 40 "North Star". All of these were later rebuilt to a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement.

Wilson Worsdell of the North Eastern Railway (NER) designed his classes V and 4CC between 1903 and 1906, while John G. Robinson of the Great Central Railway (GCR) introduced his 8D and 8E classes of three-cylinder compound locomotives in 1905 and 1906.

The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) H1 class, introduced by D. E. Marsh in 1905 and 1906, was copied from the plans of the Ivatt C1 class, with minimal alterations. In 1911 L.B. Billinton was granted authority to construct a further six examples incorporating Schmidt superheaters, which became the LB&SCR H2 class.

William Paton Reid of the North British Railway built twenty examples of his North British Atlantic, later known as H class, between 1906 and 1911. Two more were built after his retirement, and the whole class became the LNER C11 Class in the 1923 grouping. Worsdell's successor on the NER, Vincent Raven, introduced his V1 and Z classes between 1910 and 1917. However, by 1918 the 4-4-2 type had been largely superseded by the 4-6-0 type in the UK.[3]

Preserved locomotives[edit]

Several 4-4-2 locomotives were preserved in the UK. Bearing in mind that this information may become outdated over time, some known examples are:

British 415 class 4-4-2T tank locomotive of the London and South Western Railway

United States of America[edit]

SP Class A-3 no. 3025 of 1904, on display at Travel Town in Los Angeles

The original Atlantics in the United States were built with the hauling of wood-frame passenger cars in mind and came in a variety of configurations, including the four-cylinder Vauclain compound which had previously been used on express 4-4-0 American, 4-6-0 Ten-wheeler and 2-4-2 Columbia locomotives. Around the 1910s railroads started buying heavier steel passenger cars, which precipitated the introduction of the 4-6-2 Pacific type as the standard passenger locomotive. Nonetheless, the Chicago and North Western, Southern Pacific, Santa Fe and Pennsylvania railroads used 4-4-2 Atlantics until the bitter end of steam locomotive fleets in the 1950s, with some even being used in light local freight switching service.

Pennsylvania Railroad E6s Class

One of the best-known groups of 4-4-2s in the US was the Pennsylvania Railroad's vast fleet of E class Atlantics, culminating in the PRR E6s class.

Although Atlantics were sometimes used as mountain helpers prior to the First World War, they were not well-suited for mountain or for very long distance operations. They had large-diameter driving wheels, in some cases exceeding 72 inches (1,829 millimetres), which were adequate for 70 to 100 miles per hour (110 to 160 kilometres per hour) trains, although they tended to "chop" at higher speeds. Climbing any substantial railroad grade required a smaller driving wheel diameter for better adhesion, or more driving wheels for better traction.

The Hiawatha[edit]

Milwaukee Road class A no. 1 in 1951.

The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road) used a streamlined Atlantic type on its midwestern "Hiawatha" passenger train service that was instituted in 1935. Four 4-4-2 locomotives of the Milwaukee Road class A were constructed for this service in 1935. These 4-4-2s were reportedly the first steam locomotives ever designed and built to reach 100 miles per hour (160 kilometres per hour) on a daily basis.[12]

These Atlantics with their distinctive streamlining shrouds were designed by industrial designer Otto Kuhler. Their calculated tractive effort was 30,685 pounds-force (136 kilonewtons). An unusual feature of this locomotive was the drive onto the front coupled axle, which improved riding quality at speed.[12]

The locomotives were "beautifully cross balanced" and ran on 84 inches (2,134 millimetres) drivers. They had an oil fired 69 square feet (6.4 square metres) grate and a rated boiler pressure of 300 pounds per square inch (2,100 kilopascals), which gave the boiler a high capacity in relation to the cylinders. Designed for a light-weight train of five to six passenger cars, they were considered as probably the fastest steam locomotives ever built in the US, possibly capable of matching any locomotive in the world. The fleet covered their 431 miles (694 kilometres) schedule in 400 minutes with several stops en route, at an average speed of more than 100 miles per hour (160 kilometres per hour) on some sections and often arriving with one or two minutes to spare.[13]

None survived, since all four locomotives were withdrawn and scrapped between 1949 and 1951.

Preserved locomotives[edit]

Several 4-4-2 locomotives were preserved in the US. Bearing in mind that this information may become outdated over time, some known examples are:


  1. ^ "4-4-2 "Atlantic" Type Locomotives". Retrieved 24 August 2013. In 1887 the New York, Providence & Boston added a trailing axle to a 4-4-0 in order to spread its weight over more axles. That same year Hinkley built an experimental center-cab 4-4-2. The AT&SF bought a similar experimental locomotive.
    The ACL (Atlantic Coast Line) was interested in a locomotive with more steaming capacity than their 4-4-0s. In 1894 Baldwin designed a conventional 4-4-2 locomotive for the ACL and named it after them. Other railroads bought and called these locomotives "Atlantics". However, the Brooks Locomotive Company gave the name "Chautauqua" to this wheel arrangement. Also, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific (The Milwaukee Road) used the name "Milwaukee" for this wheel arrangement.
    With 178, the AT&SF owned the most of this wheel arrangement. However, the 4-4-2 was probably made most famous by the Milwaukee Road when they built four very large streamlined versions of this locomotive to pull the Hiawatha. These locomotives were the first built streamlined and were designed to cruise at 100 mph.
  2. ^ a b Flint, Steve, ed. (December 2008). Railway Modeller (Beer, Seaton, Devon: Peco Publications & Publicity Ltd.): 882. 
  3. ^ a b Ellis, Hamilton. (1949). Some Classic Locomotives. London: George Allen & Unwin. pp. 116-25.
  4. ^ Poultney, E.C. (1952). British Express Locomotive Development, 1896-1948. London: George Allen & Unwin. p. 40.
  5. ^ Jindřich Bek, Zdenek Bek. (1999). Parní Lokomotivy ČSD [1]. Prague. pp. 41, 45-48. ISBN 80-86116-13-1 (in Czech)
  6. ^ Notesse, Raoul (15 May 1939), "La nouvelle locomotive <<Atlantic No. 1201>>" (PDF), Bulletin mensuel de la Societe Nationale de Chemins de Fer Belges (in French) 1 (3): 3–6 
  7. ^ "Les Locomotives Vapeur SNCB: Locomotives de type 12". Association Liègeoise des Amateurs de chemins de Fer. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Herbert Rauter, Günther Scheingraber (1991), Preußen-Report. Band 2: Die Schnellzuglokomotiven der Gattung S 1 - S 11. Hermann Merker Verlag, ISBN 3-922404-16-2 pp. 60-80. (in German)
  9. ^ a b Holland, D.F. (1971). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways, Volume 1: 1859-1910 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, Devon: David & Charles. pp. 57–59. ISBN 978-0-7153-5382-0. 
  10. ^ a b Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. p. 19. ISBN 0869772112. 
  11. ^ Bradley, D.L. (1967). Locomotives of the London and South Western Railway, Part 2. Railway Correspondence and Travel Society. p. 19. 
  12. ^ a b Reed, Brian. (1972). Loco Profile, Issue 26 - The Hiawathas. Windsor: Profile Publications. pp. 25, 33.
  13. ^ Swengel, F.M. (1967). The American Steam Locomotive: Vol. 1, the Evolution of the Steam Locomotive. Davenport, Iowa: Midwest Rail Publishing. pp. 260-261.