In length and performance, the E 41 was the smallest electric locomotive in the DB's first new building program, but in terms of its range of tasks the most versatile. Its pulling power and maximum speed were measured in such a way that it could be used for lightweight express and limited stop fast trains as well as freight trains. As a "Jack- of-All-Trades", it was also supposed to have lower purchasing costs and lower energy consumption than the E 10 and the E 40. Due to the required performance of only 2,400 kilowatts or 3,217 horsepower, the E 41 was given a less costly transformer and low-voltage switching gear instead of the otherwise usual high-voltage controls. The sound generated by this type of control when accelerating quickly become the characteristic feature of these units, which soon led to the nickname "Firecracker".
Road number E 41 001 was delivered to the DB as the first production locomotive on June 27, 1956. In the original version, road number E 41 001-071 gleamed with a steel blue locomotive body since it was initially classified as an express locomotive. As delivered, road number had two engine room windows on the side walls on the left side directly next to the entries and a center window on the right side. The other seven windows had Schwaiger design ventilation grills with horizontal fins. Another characteristic was the continuous rain gutter as well as the grab irons on the ends. Naturally, over the course of the delivery for 451 units there were various adaptations and modifications even on the first units such as headlights, ventilation grills, doing away with rain gutters, and grab irons, etc.