Unlike previous Zephyrs, the General Pershing Zephyr was completely non-articulated; each car was self-contained and joined to the next by couplers, rather than shared trucks. The inflexibility of the articulated layout had been recognised; it was hard to lengthen, shorten, or replace parts of the train. The route did not require a high-capacity train nor a powerful locomotive, so the General Pershing Zephyr returned to the pattern of the first Pioneer Zephyr, being a power/baggage car and three trailers.
Ticket from the train's trial run between St. Louis and Alton, Illinois on April 23, 1939. It entered regular service between Kansas City and St. Louis on April 30, 1939.
The power car, 9908 Silver Charger, was unique. It utilised a single new EMC 567V-12 engine developing 1,000 hp, rather than the pair used in the contemporary EMC E3. It had one Martin Blomberg-designed E-unit A1A passenger truck at the front, with powered outer axles and a center idler axle, and an unpowered trailing truck, giving it the unusual wheel arrangement of A1A-2. This made it mechanically half of an E3. The back half of the power car was a baggage area.  It also carried sleeping cars. The train was number 32 when eastbound and number 33 when traveling west.
The train ran its assigned route until the United States entered World War II, during which time the trainset ran on many different routes. As 9908 Silver Charger could be detached from its trainset, it continued in service hauling other trains after the rest of the streamlined trainset was withdrawn. In this form it lasted in service until 1966, following which it was donated to the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri.
Traveling between Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri required the General Pershing Zephyr to operate on tracks owned by the Alton Railroad, officially making them an operating partner. To symbolize this joint administration, the General Pershing Zephyr often sported an "Alton Burlington" nose herald instead of the standard "Burlington Route" seen on most Burlington locomotives.