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  • M26 Pershing Heavy Tank / Medium Tank

    The M26 Pershing was developed to counter the Panzer scourge in World War 2 but arrived too late in the war to be of much tactical use.

     Updated: 4/6/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The M26 "Pershing" made its official appearance towards the end of World War 2 and was appropriately named after World War 1 General John J. Pershing (known as "Black Jack") of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in France. The M26 Pershing had a slow and arduous beginning during a time when the need for such a "heavy tank" was not part of US Army priority. Instead, efforts were primarily focused on production of M3 Lee/Grant and M4 Sherman medium tanks, the latter which went on to form a large part of British and American armored forces by war's end. It was not until the debut of the German "Panther" and "Tiger" heavy tank series on the battlefields of Europe that the need for a heavily armed - and armored - tank combat system came to the forefront. Heavy tanks would prove the norm by the end of the war with Germany, Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union all showcasing heavy tank designs of varying success. One of the more notable and successful developments became the Soviet "Josef Stalin" IS series mounting the powerful 122mm main guns and stubbornly thick armor. Some armored developments were even deemed "super heavy" tanks that exceeded all previous norms of tank designs in both dimensions and firepower - with most of these outrageous and optimistic designs attributed to the Germans (the Super Heavy Tank Panzer VIII "Maus" being a prime example, only two of which were built; the Landkreuzer P.1000 "Ratte" was another).

    By the time of the scheduled Allied invasion of the French coastline on D-Day, the Panther enjoyed strength in numbers and easily outmatched it closest Allied counterpart - the M4 Sherman. It was only after the Allies received first-hand experience against these German Panthers in post-D-Day invasion reports did the need for an improved American tank take hold in the minds of warplanners. The Panthers supplied a healthy combination of armor protection and armor penetration, the latter with a formidable and proven German main gun. This enabled German tanks to fire at Allied armor even before Allied armor was in range to fire back. Additionally, the heavier German tank types often required skillful hits along the more vulnerable sides or rear and combinations of actions from multiple Shermans. Conversely, the Shermans comparably lacked in point defense armor protection and made due with their original 75mm main guns - this eventually upgraded to 76mm models and better armor in the form of the Sherman "Jumbo".

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    M26 Pershing Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1945
    Type: Heavy Tank / Medium Tank
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Fisher Tank Arsenal / Detroit Tank Arsenal - USA
    Production: 4,550

    Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)

    Operating Crew: 5
    Length: 28.38 feet (8.65 meters)
    Width: 11.52 feet (3.51 meters)
    Height: 9.12 feet (2.78 meters)

    Operating Weight: 46 tons (42,000 kg; 92,594 lb)

    Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: None
    Nightvision Equipment: None

    Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Ford GAF 8-cylinder gasoline engine developing 500 horsepower.

    Maximum Road Speed: 25 mph (40 km/h)
    Maximum Road Range: 100 miles (161 km)

    Armament and Ammunition

    1 x 90mm main gun
    1 x 12.7mm machine gun
    2 x 7.62mm machine guns

    70 x 90mm projectiles
    550 x 12.7mm ammunition
    5,000 x 7.62mm ammunition

    Global Operators / Customers

    Belgium; Italy; United States

    Model Variants

    T26 - Initial Prototype; single example produced.

    T26E1 (M26A1E2) - Fitted with T15E1 90mm high-velocity main gun; single-piece projectiles; 10 examples produced.

    T26E2 - Prototype fitted with 105mm field howitzer for use as self-propelled gun platform for close-support actions; becoming the "Heavy Tank M45".

    T26E3 - Main Prototype Designation; becoming M26 production model.

    T26E4 - Developmental Variant; long-barreled T15E2 main gun; two-piece projectiles; 25 examples produced.

    T26E5 - Prototype with revised armor protection; 27 examples produced.

    M26 - Main Production Model based on the T26E3 prototype; M3 main gun; double-baffled muzzle brake; over 2,000 examples produced.

    M26A1 - Fitted with M3A1 main gun; single-baffled muzzle brake; bore evacuator on barrel; over 1,200 examples produced.

    M26E1 - Long-barreled 90mm T54 main gun; single-piece projectiles; 2 examples produced

    M26E2 - New powerpack and running gear; fitted with M3A1 90mm main gun; basis for the upcoming M46 Patton tank series; 800 examples produced.

    Heavy Tank M45 - Based on the T26E2 prototype; 185 examples produced.