CB&Q EMD E5 No. 9911A Silver Pilot at the Illinois Railway Museum. Photo by Sean Lamb.

(The original uploader was Slambo at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)


EMD logo.


The EMD E5 is a 2,000-horsepower (1,500 kW), A1A-A1A passenger train-hauling diesel locomotive manufactured by Electro-Motive Corporation, and its corporate successor, General Motors' Electro-Motive Division (EMD) of La Grange, Illinois, and produced exclusively for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (“The Burlington Route”), and its subsidiaries, during 1940 and 1941. The E5 was distinguished from the otherwise very similar E3, E4 and E6 by being clad in polished stainless steel to match the Burlington's Zephyr trains. It also featured unique small grill-like ornamentation on both sides of the upper headlight. Like the other models in the E-series, the E5 had a sloping “slant nose” and it was equipped with two headlights — a regular stationary headlight above a gyrating Mars signal light. The E5 was the sixth in the EMD E-unit series.


Fort Worth & Denver E5 No. 9980A, January 1, 1959.

The locomotive coupled behind No. 9980A, in the same consist, is Colorado & Southern No. 9951B, an E5B unit.

(SMU Central University Libraries, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons, cropped)


Engine and powertrain

The E5 used twin 12-cylinder prime movers developing a total of 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) at 800 rpm. Designed specifically for railroad locomotives, the mechanically-aspirated, two-stroke, 45-degree V-type engine, with an 8+1⁄2 in (216 mm) bore by 10 in (254 mm) stroke, giving 567 cubic inches (9,290 cm3; 9.29 L) displacement per cylinder, remained in production until 1966. Two direct-current generators, one per prime mover, provide power to four traction motors, two on each truck, in an A1A-A1A arrangement. This truck design was used on all E units and on MP 7100 AA6, CB&Q 9908, and CRI&P AB6 power cars. EMC/EMD has built all of its major components since 1939.


Postcard photo of a Burlington EMD E5 locomotive pulling a freight train in Colorado. These locomotives were built

circa 1940-1941 and were originally used on the passenger Zephyr service. Taken in October 1967 by Ken Crist.

(Audio Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, via W. Lenheim Collection)


Original owners

Railroad Cab-equipped A units Cabless booster B units Road numbers A units Road numbers B units Notes
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad 9 3 9910A–9912A, 9909, 9913,9914A,B, 9915A,B 9910B–9912B 9911A preserved in operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum
Colorado and Southern Railway 1 1 9950A 9950B
Fort Worth and Denver Railway 1 1 9980A 9980B
Total 11 5

Locomotive details

Name Cab or Booster No. (as built) EMD Order No. EMD Serial No. Build Date History
Silver Bullet (cab) 9909 E 278-A 970 Mar 1940 to C&S 9953 in Dec 1955
Silver Speed (cab) 9910A E 278-A 967 Feb 1940 to C&S 9951A in Aug 1955; retired Oct 1967 and traded in to EMD on an SD40.
Silver Power (booster) 9910B E 279-B 971 Feb 1940 to C&S 9951B in Aug 1955; retired Oct 1967 and traded in to EMD on an SD40.
Silver Pilot (cab) 9911A E 278-A 968 Feb 1940 to FW&D 9982A in Aug 1955; to C&S 9952A in Oct 1955; retired in Mar 1968 and traded in to EMD on an SD40.
Silver Mate (booster) 9911B E 279-B 972 Feb 1940 to FW&D 9982B in Aug 1955; to C&S 9952B in Oct 1955; retired in Mar 1968 and traded in to EMD on an SD40.
Silver Meteor (cab) 9912A E 278-A 969 Mar 1940 retired Mar 1965 and traded in.
Silver Comet (booster) 9912B E 279-B 973 Mar 1940 retired Mar 1965 and traded in.
Silver Wings (cab) 9913 E 331-A 1133 Oct 1940 to C&S 9954 in Apr 1957
Silver Arrow (cab) 9914A E 377-A 1301 Jun 1941 to C&S 9955 in Sep 1961
Silver Swift (cab) 9914B E 377-A 1302 Jun 1941 wrecked at Nodaway, Missouri in Aug 1960; retired and scrapped.
Silver Carrier (cab) 9915A E 377-A 1303 Jun 1941 wrecked at Biglow, Missouri in Apr 1963; retired and scrapped.
Silver Clipper (cab) 9915B E 377-A 1304 Jun 1941 retired Mar 1965 and traded in.
Silver Racer (cab) 9950A (C&S) E 278-A 1035 Mar 1940
Silver Steed (booster) 9950B (C&S) E 279-B 1037 Mar 1940
Silver Chief (cab) 9980A (FW&D) E 278-A 1036 Mar 1940
Silver Warrior (booster) 9980B (FW&D) E 279-B 1038 Mar 1940

Surviving example

Only one E5 unit of the original 16 built survives today. The last surviving EMD E5 diesel, CB&Q No. 9911A Silver Pilot, is owned and operated by the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois. Last used on the Fort Worth and Denver Railway (a CB&Q subsidiary) on the Texas Zephyr, the E5 is matched with one of the Burlington's Nebraska Zephyrs, a 5 car, articulated, stainless steel 1936 passenger train. This equipment was used in the production of the 1992 film A League of Their Own, and for the 2006 film Flags of Our Fathers, E5 9911A Silver Pilot was used with 4 stainless steel passenger cars relettered to resemble the Zephyr trainset. 9911 is equipped with dual horns, which is a WABCO E2 and a Leslie Controls RS2M.



Type and origin
Power type: Diesel-electric
Builder: General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD)
Model: E5
Build date: February 1940 – June 1941
Total produced: 11 A units, 5 B units
​• AAR A1A-A1A
Gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
Wheel diameter: 36 in (0.914 m)
• Truck 14 ft 1 in (4.29 m)
Length: 71 ft 1 in (21.67 m)
Width: 10 ft 3 in (3.12 m)
Height: 15 ft 0 in (4.57 m)
Locomotive weight: A unit: 315,000 lb (142,882 kg); B unit: 290,000 lb (131,542 kg)
Prime mover: EMD 567, 2 off
Engine type: V12 Two-stroke diesel
Cylinders: 12 × 2
Locomotive brake: D22L
Performance figures
Maximum speed: 116 mph (187 km/h)
Power output: 2,000 hp (1,491 kW)
Tractive effort:
​• Starting 56,500 lbf (25,628 kgf)
• Continuous 31,000 lbf (14,061 kgf) @11 mph (18 km/h)
Operators: Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and subsidiaries Colorado Southern and Fort Worth & Denver
Disposition: One unit preserved in operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum