New Haven’s ten 1954 General Electric EP5 rectifier electric locomotives had extremely loud blowers, earning them the moniker “jets”. With their sleek lines and striking paint scheme, they instantly became the stars of the American Flyer and Lionel catalogs. As externally appealing as the EP5’s were, internally, they had a new-technology ignitron rectifier that wasn’t up to the task of converting 4000 horsepower of AC power to DC. The ignitrons were notorious for overheating, and some reports say that every one of the ten units suffered at least one fire.
In 1969, the New Haven was folded into the year-old Penn Central, and changes to the jets soon followed. Reclassed E40, the six serviceable double-ended units remained in passenger service until a 1973 fire caused them to be banished from New York’s Park Avenue tunnel. The PC reassigned them to freight service, with two operating until shortly before this photo was taken in May, 1978. I believe that all six remaining E40’s were here at the Harrisburg engine terminal at the time of the photo. Beside the 4973 and 4977, another unit is coupled to the 4973, and a fourth one’s nose is visible between the two coupled units. All six E40’s were scrapped.