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United States' M26 Pershing heavy tank

Photos

M26 Pershing Heavy Tank:
USA's M26 Heavy Tank Drawing
Aberdeen Tank Museum

M26 Pershing Heavy Tank at the Patton Museum in Ft Knox, Kentucky
United States M26 Heavy Tank
Chris Bobo
M26 Pershing Heavy Tank:
United States' M26 Pershing
Aberdeen Tank Museum
M26 Pershing Heavy Tank:
United States' M26 Pershing Heavy Tank
Aberdeen Tank Museum
M26 Pershing Heavy Tank at the Patton Museum in Ft Knox, Kentucky
United States M26 Heavy Tank
Chris Bobo
M45 Pershing Heavy Tank, from the M26 Manual:
United States M45 Heavy Tank
Mark Holloway
M45 Pershing Heavy Tank, from the M26 Manual:
United States M45 Heavy Tank
Mark Holloway
Easy Models 1/72 Armor, 36201:
Easy Models 1/72 Armor 36201, United States' M26 Pershing
Hobby Master 1/72 Armor, 3201:
Hobby Master 1/72 Armor 3201, United States' M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank
Hobby Master 1/72 Armor, 3202:
Hobby Master 1/72 Armor 3202, United States' M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank

Design

Project started in 1942 and it was supposed to be an improvement on the M4 medium. Thirteen models of the T20, T22, and T23 were developed with a variety of weapons, transmissions, and suspensions.

In early 1943 the Armored Command had felt that the war would be concluded with the M4 medium. This resulted in the improvements in crew safety and reliability of the M4. Armored Command also didn't want a heavy tank because of its size and weight. However, after the Battle of the Bulge, they changed their minds. This also had to due with the fact that Army doctrine at the time called for tank destroyers to take care of enemy tanks.

It was designated Limited Procurement in October 1944. Army Ground Forces wanted to delay the standardization until its battle worthiness was proven. The Secretary of War sent 20 vehicles to Europe in the Zebra Mission in January 1945. It was Standardized in May 1945.

Suspension

The suspension has individually sprung torsion bars, with bumper springs and double acting shock absorbers. A center guided track is used. The drive sprocket is located at the rear.

Hull Crew

The driver and assistant driver each have a hatch over them. There are 2 emergency doors in the floor of the hull.

Turret

The commander's hatch has a vision cupola with 6 laminated glass vision blocks. The commander, gunner, and loader have seats in the rotating turret. There is a hatch over the commander and a smaller hatch over the loader. Periscopes are provided to all the crew.

The turret is reversed and the main gun locked in a traveling lock when traveling in non-combat areas.

Prototype

Here's information on the T25 and T26 prototypes that led to the M26 Pershing.

Production

  • M26: 1,436, 2,432
    • Production: November 1944 - June 1945, March - May 1945 (Detroit Arsenal)
    • Manufacturer: Detroit Tank Arsenal (246), Grand Blanc Tank Arsenal (1,190)
    • Cost: $81,324
  • M45:
  • T83: 311
    • Production: February - May 1945
    • Manufacturer: Pressed Steel Car Company

Variants

  • T20: Prototype. Similar suspension to a M4 medium tank. Had 76 mm main armament.
  • T22: Prototype.
  • T23: Prototype.
  • T25: Prototype. Torsion bar suspension.
  • T26: Prototype. 90 mm gun. Thicker armor.
  • T26E2: Prototype. Was standardized as the M45. Had 105 mm howitzer.
  • T26E3: Prototype. Became the M26.
  • T26E5: Thicker armor, 279 mm in spots. Only 24 built.
  • M26: The 90 mm gun could fire a 24.1 lb shell at a muzzle velocity of 2,800'/sec.
  • M26A1: Longer 90 mm T15 gun.
  • M26E1, T26E4: Longer gun, and single-part ammunition. Used the 90 mm T54 gun.
  • M26E4: More powerful 90 mm gun.
  • T83 Gun Motor Carriage: Carried 155 mm.
  • T25 Cargo Carrier: Was to carry 155 mm ammunition. Not used.
  • T30 Cargo Carrier: Was to carry 155 mm ammunition. Was selected for use.
  • T84 Howitzer Motor Carriage: Carried 8" howitzer. Became the M43.
  • T31 Cargo Carrier: Was to be used with the T84. Shortage of M26 components caused M4 components to be substituted.
  • T92 Howitzer Motor Carriage: 240 mm howitzer was carried.
  • T93 Gun Motor Carriage: Carried 8" gun. Used T26E3 components.
  • T94 Mortar Motor Carriage: Was to carry a 10" mortar on a T83 chassis. Project cancelled at end of World War II.
  • T12 Armored Recovery Vehicle: Had lighter turret than M26 and carried a winch and boom.
  • T15E3 Mine Resistant Vehicle: Was to use the hull of a T26E1 but project was cancelled.
  • T95 Gun Motor Carriage: Originally was the T28 Heavy Tank but name was changed as it didn't have a turret.

Usage

First Shipments

The first 20 went into combat near Antwerp.

The first combat occurred in February Was used by the 3rd and 9th Armored Divisions as part of the Zebra Mission. A group of civilian and military experts conducted the training on the M26.

The next groups of Pershings were given to the 2nd, 5th, and 11th Armored Divisions.

By VE-Day there were 310 M26s in Europe, not all of which saw combat.

First Battles

On February 26, 1945, the 3rd Armored Division attacked across the Roer River.

On March 8, 1945, the 14th Tank Battalion (9th Armored Division), commanded by Lieutenant Grimball, took part in the capture of the Remagen Bridge with the 27th Armored Infantry commanded by Lieutenant Timmerman.

The Pacific

During the battle for Okinawa the tankers were demanding something more powerful than the M4 Sherman. Twelve were shipped but didn't arrive until August 1945 and thus saw no combat.

The British

The British received some for evaluation before the end of the war and were prepared to order some, however, with the end of the war, the order was cancelled.

Korea

The M36 Pershing saw combat during the Korean War.

Specifications

  M26 (T26E3)
Crew Commander, driver, co-driver, gunner, loader.
5
Radio SCR-508
OR SCR-608
OR SCR-528
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 92,000 lb, 92,355 lb
41.1 tons, 41.2 tons, 41.73 tons, 46 tons
41,730 kg, 41,861 kg, 41,891 kg
Length w/gun 27' 11", 28' 10", 28' 3"
8.61 m, 8.66 m, 8.788 m, 8.79 m
Length w/o gun 20.8', 20' 9", 20' 9 1/8", 21' 2", 22' 4"
6.452 m, 6.51 m
Height 9' 1", 9' 1 3/8", 9.1'
2.769 m, 2.77 m, 2.78 m
Width 11.4', 11' 6", 11' 6.25"
3.505 m, 3.51 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 1' 5 3/16", 1' 5 11/16", 1' 5.7'
0.44 m
Ground contact length 12' 4-8", 148.4"
Ground pressure 12.5 psi, 12.7 psi, 12.9 psi, 13.1 psi
Turret ring diameter 69"
Armament (mm)  
Main 1: 90 mm
1: 90 mm M3
1: 90 mm M3, L/53
1: 90 mm / 3.54" M3
Secondary  
MG 3: MG
1: 12.7 mm (.50 cal)
1: 12.7 mm / 0.5" MG
2: 7.62 mm (.30 cal)
2: 7.62 mm / 0.3" MG
MG - coaxial 1: .30 cal Browning MG
1: .30 cal Browning M1919A4
MG - bow 1: .30 cal Browning MG
1: .30 cal Browning M1919A4
MG - antiaircraft 1: .50 cal Browning MG
1: .50 cal Browning M2-HB
1: .50 cal M2 MG
Side arms 5: .45 sub machine guns
Grenades
Quantity  
Main 70 (HE, APC, HVAP, Smoke)
Secondary  
MG .30: 5,000
.50: 550, 600
Side arms .45: 900
Grenades: 12
Armor Thickness (mm) 12 - 102, 13, 102, 102.6
2" - 4"
(Actual thickness to horizontal)
Front: 4.3"
Side: 2"
Hull Front, Upper 101.6, 101.6@46°
4" (6.9")
Hull Front, Lower 76.2@53°
3" (6.4")
Hull Sides, Upper 50.8, 76.2@0°
2", 2-3"@0°
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 50.8@10°
2" (2")
Hull Top 22@90°
7/8"@90°
Hull Bottom 13 & 25@90°
0.5-1"@90°
Turret Front 4" (4.4"), 4.3"
101.6, 102@0°
mantlet: 114@0°
Turret Sides 76.2
3" (3")
Turret Rear 76@0-5°, 76.2
3" (3")
Turret Top 12, 25@90°, 50.8
1"@90°
Engine (Make / Model) Ford GAF
Ford
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water
Cylinders V-8
Capacity 1,000 cu in
Net HP 500, 500@2,600 rpm
Power to weight ratio 10.81 HP/10
Compression ratio 7.5:1
Transmission (Type) Torquematic, Torqmatic, 900-F2 Torquematic
3 forward, 1 reverse
Steering Controlled differential
Steering ratio  
Starter Electric
Electrical system 24-volt
Ignition Magneto
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Octane 80
Quantity 186 gallons, 191 gallons
832 liters
Road consumption 0.5 mpg
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°, 15°/sec
Power and hand
Speed - Road 20 mph, 30 mph
40 kph, 48 kph
Speed - Cross Country 5-18 mph, 5.2 mph
8.4 kph
Range - Road 60 - 110 miles, 92 miles, 100 miles, 110 miles
148 km, 161 km
Range - Cross Country 62 miles
Turning radius 63'
Elevation limits +20° to -10°
Fording depth 4'
1.22 m
Trench crossing 7.9', 8', 8' 6"
2.44 m, 2.59 m
Vertical obstacle 3' 10"
1.17 m
Climbing ability 31° (60%) slope, 60% slope
Suspension (Type) Torsion bar
Wheels each side 6 plus 1 compensating, 12
6 pairs
Return rollers each side 5
Tracks (Type) Cast steel, rubber backed
T81 Steel
Length  
Width 2'
0.6096 m
Diameter  
Number of links 78
Pitch 6"
Tire tread Rubber
Track centers/tread 9' 2", 9.2'
2.794 m

Sources:

  1. The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles - The Comprehensive Guide to Over 900 Armored Fighting Vehicles From 1915 to the Present Day, General Editor: Christopher F. Foss, 2002
  2. British and American Tanks of World War Two, The Complete Illustrated History of British, American, and Commonwealth Tanks 1933-1945, Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis, 1969
  3. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  4. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  5. Airfix Magazine Guide #26 American Tanks of World War 2, Terry Gander and Peter Chamberlain, 1977
  6. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  7. Tank Data, Aberdeen Proving Grounds Series, 1968?
  8. Profile AFV Weapons #32 The M6 Heavy and M26 Pershing, Robert J. Icks, Colonel AUS-Retired, 1971
  9. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site