The 44-ton switcher is a 4-axle diesel-electric locomotive built by General Electric between 1940 and 1956. It was designed for industrial and light switching duties, frequently replacing steam locomotives of that era. The 44-ton locomotive was created to directly address a 1937 "90,000 Pound Ruling” law requiring locomotives weighing over 90,000 pounds to have a fireman on board in addition to an engineer. The GE 44-ton locomotive was born to skirt this requirement and save the salary of an additional fireman on the locomotive. In total, approximately 275 locomotives were built.
Lionel’s model is a fairly good representation of its real life counterpart – except for its length. For this locomotive to be closer to scale, it should be about half or two-thirds the length of the current version. The 44-ton locomotive only lasted for two years in the Lionel catalogue; 1956 & 1957.