Athearn EMD SDP40

Athearn EMD SDP40

Athearn SDP40 1966May 1966 brings a full page ad from Athearn for its new SDP40 diesel model in six road names. The initial release group of six roads offered by Athearn did not include any prototype owners: Baltimore & Ohio; Chicago & North Western; New Haven; New York Central; Santa Fe (blue-and-yellow freight scheme); and Southern Pacific. By 1970, Athearn added red-and-silver Santa Fe in the road’s Passenger Warbonnet scheme and one of the two prototype owners: Great Northern (“Big Sky Blue” scheme). Original retail for the powered SDP40 was $14.98 with non-powered examples sold for $5.98.

Built from May 1966 thru May 1970, EMD constructed a total of 20 examples of its SDP40. Original owners of this boiler equipped six-axle 3,000-hp diesel included only Great Northern in the U.S. and Mexico’s N de M. One might question why a hobby company would bother investing time and finances to tool up such a limited use prototype. Had Athearn tooled the straight EMD SD40, rather than the SDP40, it would have had a big sales winner no doubt. It should be remembered, the Athearn model hits 1:87th rails the same time the first of the 1:1 prototypes were delivered and the success of this diesel would not have been known. Athearn did include Great Northern among the offerings for its SDP40, but did not do the other prototype road N de M. The SDP40 was decorated in “Big Sky Blue,” the prototype was delivered in the simplified “Empire Builder” green-and-orange and repainted in Big Sky Blue.

A with most EMD offerings from 1957 thru 1975, this example was produced with a wider than accurate hood and nose to house the drive motor. Athearn has retired the SDP40, as it has done with its wider than scale hooded locos.

Athearn SDP40 Roster

Baltimore & Ohio
No. 4101 -Powered
No. 4121 -Dummy

Chicago & North Western
No. 4102 -Powered
No. 4122 -Dummy

Great Northern 
No. 4108 -Powered
No. 4128 -Dummy

New Haven 
No. 4103 -Powered
No. 4123 -Dummy

New York Central
No. 4104 -Powered
No. 4124 -Dummy

Santa Fe (blue and yellow) 
No. 4105 -Powered
No. 4125 -Dummy

Santa Fe (red and silver) 
No. 4107 -Powered
No. 4127 -Dummy

Southern Pacific
No. 4106 -Powered
No. 4126 -Dummy

Undecorated
No. 4100 -Powered
No. 4120 -Dummy