Why is the T12 a mythical locomotive?
During the 30’s, technical advancements were such that the principal challenge for locomotive manufacturers becomes speed. Cockerill is able to excel in this domain, creating the mythical locomotiveT12, which François Schuiten is to immortalise in 2012 through the publication of cartoon strip ‘La Douce’.
The T12 is the story of a meeting between André Huet, a French engineer who perfects a new system of streamlining which accentuates the aerodynamic qualities of locomotives, and Raoul Notesse, an indefatigable engineer at Cockerill, who has already perfected the type 1 locomotive.
Between May and June 1939, the Belgian consortium for locomotive construction led by Cockerill produces six type 12 locomotives. This locomotive is impressive for the size of its two huge driving wheels of 2m10 in diameter and the purity of its lines. It reaches a speed of 140 km/h (88 mph) in 3 minutes. In May 1939 it reaches a top speed of 165 km/h (103 mph) while pulling 5 carriages, which enables it to claim the worldwide ‘blue ribbon’ for speed for a steam locomotive in regular commercial service.
The war unfortunately brings production of the locomotive to a halt. And so, despite this marvellous success, the Cockerill workshops are no longer to produce this fabulous locomotive. Following the war, the six Type 12’s are successfully converted to pull heavy traffic. Only one example is still in existence today. It can be admired at Belgian train museum Trainworld in Brussels (Belgium).