T29 (Heavy Tank T29) Heavy Tank Prototype
The T29 was an experimental American turreted heavy tank developed in the closing months of World War 2.
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As World War 2 progressed on all fronts in favor of the Allies, attention began to turn to the final thrust required in Europe, this operation to be aimed squarely at the head of the Nazi empire in Berlin. Such an initiative would require weapon systems of equal footing against the powerful, late-war implements being fielded by the German Army at this stage. In addition to its fabled Panther (regarded as the best all-around German tank of the war) and Tiger I heavy tanks, the Germans unveiled their "Tiger II
", a formidable heavy-class tank of 75.5. tons with stout, thick armor protection and mounting the famous 8.8cm KwK 42 L/71 series anti-tank gun (the "88"). The Americans had begun work on a heavy tank all their own that eventually became the M26 "Pershing"
by war's end. However, the Pershing was a heavy tank in the 46 ton range and "only" mounting a 90mm main gun. As such, something of monstrous proportions was in order and the Americans set to work on several well-known heavy and "super-heavy" tank creations that eventually became the T28, T29 and T30 series of tanks - though none entered serial production nor saw combat service in the war.
The T28 Super Heavy Tank
was built in two pilot vehicle forms by Pacific Car and Foundry, featured 12 inch thick armor and a 105mm main gun set within a fixed hull structure - essentially a heavily armored self-propelled gun designed to break through the last remnants of the German defenses, opening up gaps for other forces to exploit. The T30
was of 75 tons, protected over in 280mm of armor and fitting a 155mm main gun in a traversing turret. Designed along the same lines as the T30 was the "T29", a 70-ton product with up to 279mm of armor protection and fielding a high-velocity 105mm main gun in a traversing turret. The T29 and T30 tanks were both designed and developed at the same time and based on the T26 Pershing chassis.
American engineers took the T26E3 as a starting point, lengthening the hull and adding extra road wheels to compensate for the expected weight gains. To power the type, a Ford brand GAC series gasoline engine was selected and fitted in a rear compartment. The main differentiating feature between the T29 and T30 heavy tanks was in the former's use of a 105mm main gun instead of the latter's 155mm T7 series. Work on the T29 began in March of 1944.
Design of the T29 was rather straightforward and conventional as tanks
go. The turret was set upon a tracked chassis at the middle of the design. The tracks - to each hull side - sported eight double-tired road wheels with the drive sprocket at the rear and the track idler at the front. The upper portion of the track was guided by no fewer than seven track return rollers. The hull was headed by a sloped glacis plate fitting a ball-mounted machine gun position at front-right with the driver's position at front-left. As a departure from previous wartime US tank designs, the T29 did not feature a high profile superstructure atop the hull roof. Instead, the hull roof was integrated into the design as a low-profile structure to provide enough internal working space for the engine, transmission and crew. The most characteristic feature of the T29 was its large, elongated and blocky turret managing the protruding main gun. As expected, armor was excessively thick along all major facings, measuring between 70mm (lower front hull) to 203mm (gun mantlet). The vehicle was crewed by six personnel made up of the driver, tank commander, dedicated gunner, machine gunner and two loaders - the machine gunner and driver seated in the forward hull with the rest of the crew in the turret. Overall measurements included a running length of 37 feet, 11.5 inches, a 12 feet, 5.5 inch width and a 10 feet, 6 inch height. Overall weight was approximately 70 tons.