Class E 41 was designed for local traffic and branch lines. Since the 1968 renumbering, it is listed as class 141. Its nickname is Knallfrosch (firecracker), as the tap changer makes loud cracking noises when changing notches. A total of 451 units was built.
Originally designed as an effective means of traction for light passenger trains, and with a top speed of 120 kilometres per hour (75 mph) and an axle load below 17 tonnes (16.7 long tons; 18.7 short tons), class E 41 was also designated for passenger services on smaller lines. In the 1950s, due to general lack of locomotives, class E 41 was also used for express train service. However, after speed of express trains was raised to 140 kilometres per hour (87 mph) in the early 1960s, the class mostly lost its express services.
In its original role for hauling local trains, class E 41 proved both reliable and efficient, especially with push-pull trains. Less successful was the usage with S-Bahn trains, as class E 41 was not equipped with an electric brake, which would have helped to reduce abrasion. Class E 41 service stayed largely unchanged until the early 1990s. Since then many units have been replaced by former Deutsche Reichsbahn units of class 143 especially in S-Bahn service. Furthermore, since mid-1990s EMUs and newer locomotives as class 146 replaced even more class 141 units. Since then, many have been scrapped. Unit 141 188 was the first to retire on October 31, 1987; the total number of engines has hence fallen since. The last four remaining units, which finally were held ready hot standby around Frankfurt and used in case of need for defective younger machines were dropped out of service in December 2006.