South West African Zwillinge

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DSWA Zwillinge 0-6-0T
South West African Zwillinge 0-6-0T
DSWA Zwillinge 73A & B.jpg
Krauss factory picture of Zwillinge no. 73 B & A, circa 1899
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Builder Krauss & Company
Henschel and Son
L. Schwartzkopff
MBA Breslau
Arnold Jung
Model Zwillinge
Build date 1899-1905
Total produced 182 pairs (See notes)
Configuration 0-6-0T
Gauge 600 mm (1 ft 11 58 in) narrow gauge
Driver diameter 580 mm (22.83 in)
Wheelbase 1,300 mm (4 ft 3.18 in)
Length 3,510 mm (11 ft 6.19 in) unit over frame
7,200 mm (23 ft 7.46 in) pair over frames
8,200 mm (26 ft 10.83 in) pair between couplers
Width 1,600 mm (5 ft 2.99 in)
Height 2,700 mm (8 ft 10.30 in)
Locomotive weight 7,000 kg (6.9 long tons) empty
8,500 kg (8.4 long tons) w/o
Fuel type Coal
Fuel capacity 250 kg (550 lb)
Water capacity 830 l (180 imp gal)
Boiler pressure 220 psi (1,520 kPa)
Firegrate area 0.3 m2 (3.2 sq ft)
Heating surface:
– Tubes
14.29 m2 (153.8 sq ft)
Cylinders Two
Cylinder size 180 mm (7.09 in) bore
240 mm (9.45 in) stroke
Valve gear Outside Stephenson
Performance figures
Maximum speed 20 km/h (12 mph)
Power output 60 hp (45 kW)
Tractive effort 12.2 kN (2,743 lbf) at 60% pressure
Operator(s) Swakopmund-Windhuk Staatsbahn
South African Railways
Number in class 50+ pairs
Nicknames Zwillinge or Illinge
Delivered 1898-1905
First run 1898
Preserved Illinge No. 154A
1. Data are for single locomotives unless indicated otherwise.
2. The total production of 182 pairs includes those built for use in other parts of the world.

The South West African Zwillinge 0-6-0T of 1898 is a narrow gauge steam locomotive from the Deutsch-Südwest-Afrika era.

Between 1898 and 1905 more than fifty pairs of Zwillinge twin tank steam locomotives with a 0-6-0 wheel arrangement were acquired by the Swakopmund-Windhuk Staatsbahn (Swakopmund-Windhoek State Railway) in Deutsch-Südwest-Afrika (German South West Africa). By 1922 only two of these locomotives survived to be absorbed onto the roster of the South African Railways.[1]

Narrow gauge railway[edit]

The first members of the German Feldbahn-Baukommando (field railway construction commando) arrived in Swakopmund in German South West Africa (DSWA, now Namibia) on 11 September 1897 to build a narrow gauge railway across the Namib Desert from Swakopmund to Windhoek. The Swakopmund-Windhuk Staatsbahn was officially opened to traffic nearly five years later, on 1 July 1902.[2]


Zwillinge locomotives were a class of small 600 millimetres (23.6 inches) "Schmalspur" (narrow gauge) paired 0-6-0 tank steam locomotives that were built in Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The first large consignment of Zwillinge locomotives arrived in Swakopmund between 1898 and 1899. Eventually, by 1905, more than fifty new or used pairs had been acquired by the Swakopmund-Windhuk Staatsbahn in DSWA.[1]

They were built by six manufacturers, those being Krauss and Company, Henschel and Son, L. Schwartzkopff, Egestorf, MBA Breslau and Arnold Jung. These so-called "Feldbahn" locomotives, built for the military, were also used in other German colonies and several came to DSWA second hand.[1][3]


As indicated by their name "Zwillinge" (twins), they were actually two separate locomotives that were designed to be semi-permanently coupled back-to-back at the cabs, allowing a single footplate crew to fire and control both locomotives. The pairs of locomotives shared a common manufacturer’s works number and engine number, with the units being designated as A and B.[4][5]

Zwillinge 0-6-0T no. 167 B & A, c. 1920

The A locomotives had higher cabin roofs than the B locomotives so that the roofs could overlap while coupled, to provide better protection for the crew. They were designed so that they could also be used separately and each had a complete set of controls. When they were run in single mode they were commonly referred to as Illinge.[3][4][5][6]

By the outbreak of World War I a total of one hundred and eighty-two Zwillinge pairs had been produced for employment in several German territories. Production of new Zwillinge was terminated after the adoption of the larger 0-8-0 Brigadelok as the new standard military locomotive in 1901.[6]


Swakopmund-Windhuk Staatsbahn[edit]

Shortly after the first Zwillinge locomotives were placed in service, it was found that the tank locomotives’ fuel and water capacities were insufficient for the distances that had to be covered in the German colonies in Africa, especially in the harsh conditions presented by the Namib Desert that had to be crossed between Swakopmund and Windhoek.[4][6]

Zwillinge at work near Pforte in 1898

To solve this, a four-axle water tender was developed that served the dual purpose of also providing seating for armed escorts. The bench atop the water tender as well as the water pipe between the locomotives and tender is visible in the picture alongside.[3]

South African Railways[edit]

No. 169B arriving at Bellville Quarry

In 1922 the South African Railways (SAR) took control of all railway operations in South West Africa (SWA), but the SWA locomotives were never reclassified or renumbered and retained their former German identities until withdrawn from service. By then Illinge numbers 154A and 169B were the only survivors of the Zwillinge fleet to be taken onto the SAR roster.[1][3][7]

Number 154A was employed in Windhoek as a non-revenue departmental locomotive and was finally withdrawn from service in 1939 after logging a total mileage of about 371,000 miles (597,067 kilometres).[3][7]

Number 169B, built in 1904 by MBA Breslau, was shipped to Cape Town after World War I and placed in non-revenue service at the SAR’s Bellville quarry into the side of the Tygerberg.[1]


No. 154A plinthed at Windhoek Station

The sole surviving Illinge locomotive, number 154A, is now plinthed under a shelter outside Windhoek Station. This particular locomotive was half of a pair built by Henschel in 1900, works number 5376. It only arrived in SWA second hand in 1904, being shown in the Henschel works lists as originally built new for the Deutsche Feldbahnen in 1900 as one half of seven locomotive pairs with engine numbers 148A&B to 154A&B and works numbers 5364 to 5377. It is not known where it was first placed in service.[3][5][6][7][8]

It was originally plinted at the Railway College at Esselen Park in Kaalfontein, near Kempton Park in Transvaal, South Africa. During the late 1950s it was returned to SWA and plinthed in its present location in front of the station building in Windhoek.[3]


A postage stamp depicting the Zwillinge was one of a set of four commemorative stamps that was issued on 2 August 1985 to commemorate the narrow gauge locomotives that pioneered railways in the territory. The stamp design was by the noted stamp designer and artist Koos van Ellinckhuijzen.[2][9]

The particular locomotives depicted were the second DSWA pair, numbered 2A and 2B. The name of the station on the name board on the stamp, written in Fraktur script, is Otjimukoka. This station was renamed in 1903 to Johann Albrechtshöhe in honour of Duke John Albert of Mecklenburg, and again changed later to the shortened Albrechts. A head-on outline of an Illinge was used by the SWA postal authorities as a commemorative cancellation for Swakopmund on the date of issue. The stamp, the postmark and another painting of the Zwillinge appeared on the first day cover that marked the release of the four stamps.[3][10]


  1. ^ a b c d e Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. p. 117, 121. ISBN 0869772112. 
  2. ^ a b Philatelic Bulletin 44, issued by Philatelic Services and INTERSAPA, 1985
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Windhoek, Namibia, Steam locomotive plinthed at station building
  4. ^ a b c Henschel 5376
  5. ^ a b c Eisenbahnen
  6. ^ a b c d The Heeresfeldbahn pages: Zwilling
  7. ^ a b c Middleton, John N. (2002). Railways of Southern Africa Locomotive Guide - 2002 (as amended by Combined Amendment List 4, January 2009) (2nd, Dec 2002 ed.). Herts, England: Beyer-Garratt Publications. p. 67. 
  8. ^ Henschel-Lieferliste (Henschel & Son works list), compiled by Dietmar Stresow
  9. ^ De Jager, Okkie and Steenkamp, Riaan - The Art of J.J. (Koos) van Ellinckhuijzen
  10. ^ The Art of Koos van Ellinckhuijzen: Historical Namibian Railways, on North-West University South Africa website