EMD E6 Locomotive Profile

A Proto 2000 HO scale E6 looks splendid in the classic colors of the B&O

The Spruce / Ryan C Kunkle

The E6 was the seventh offering in EMD's E-series of passenger diesel-electrics, and the last and most successful of the "slant nose" models.

Prototype History

  • Builder: General Motors, Electro-Motive Division (EMD)
  • AAR type: A1A-A1A
  • Dates built: 1939 to 1942
  • Number built: 91 A, 26B
  • Horsepower: 2,000
  • Engine: 12-567
  • Length: 72 ft

After six previous models, all but one custom-built for specific railroads, EMD found a hit with its second production E-unit. Like previous models, the E6 was designed for passenger service, built around a pair of diesel engines (in this case the 12-cylinder 567 model) and rode on a pair of A-1-A trucks. That is, the six-wheel trucks had two powered axles around an unpowered idler for weight distribution.

Also like previous units, the locomotives' streamlining featured a very pronounced slanted nose. It would be the last class built with this feature as subsequent production shifted to the "bulldog" nose that would make the remaining E and F unit classes famous.

The E6 was the first E unit to find success in great numbers on multiple railroads. 91 "A unit" locomotives were produced for a dozen railroads. An additional 26 E6-B locomotives were also built. These "Booster units" were mechanically similar to the A units, but lacked a control cab and of course, the slanted nose. A third variation was AA units built for the Missouri Pacific which housed a baggage compartment where the second prime mover would be.

The E6 pulled some of America's greatest streamlined passenger trains. From the jointly run City of Los Angeles and City of San Francisco to the Crescent, the Champion, the Rocket and the Capitol Limited, E6's were found on the point of railroad's best trains and often it's advertising as well.

Wartime restrictions sidelined E6 production in 1942, but its three-year run had already made its mark. From the E6, EMD would move on to produce the most successful passenger locomotive of all time, the E7. ​

Operating Railroads

  • Atlantic coast line: 22 A*, 5 B *A 23rd A unit, No. 501, was ordered as an E3A but wrecked before delivery. EMC rebuilt the locomotive as an E6A.
  • Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe: 4 A, 3 B
  • Baltimore and Ohio: 8 A, 7 B
  • Chicago and Northwestern: 4 A
  • Chicago Rock Island and Pacific: 5 A
  • EMD (demonstrator): 1 (to SAL)
  • Florida east coast: 3 A, 1 B
  • Illinois central: 5 A
  • Kansas City southern: 2 A
  • Louisville and Nashville: 16 A
  • Milwaukee road: 2 A
  • Missouri Pacific: 2 A, 2 B
  • Seaboard air line: 2 A (+ EMD Demo)
  • Southern: 7 A, 4 B
  • Union Pacific: 6 A
  • UP-CNW joint-owned: 1 A, 2 B (used in the City of Los Angeles)
  • UP-SP-CNW joint-owned: 1 A, 2 B (used in the City of San Francisco)


The E6 has been reproduced in many scales. The most common of the slant-nose units, it has been the logical choice for manufacturers looking to provide this famous face to modelers. It would also be a logical starting point for a kitbash of some of the earlier E-units.

Like all E-units, the locomotives' long frame may pose some problems on tighter radius curves, especially when coupled to equally long scale-length passenger cars. Despite those limitations, the sleek styling and colorful paint schemes make these the perfect power for streamlined passenger trains. Typical lashups included two to three locomotives (often in A and B combinations), but single units were also seen on smaller trains.

The list of available models below includes all products that we can locate at this time. It is possible that additional models, especially brass imports, have been available in the past. The locomotives listed here have also been produced in limited production batches so that availability will vary.

  • N scale: Life-Like (Proto-2000), Broadway Limited Imports
  • HO scale: Life-Like (Proto-2000), Cary (Bowser) cast metal A unit shell only
  • O scale: Lionel, MTH, Key Imports (brass - 2-rail)
  • G gauge (1:29 scale): American Mainline Models (announced as of 2011)