T29 (Heavy Tank T29)
Heavy Tank Prototype Vehicle
The T29 was an experimental American turreted heavy tank developed in the closing months of World War 2.
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Primary armament was centered around the high-velocity 105mm T5E2 main gun intended to penetrate thick armor. Functions of the main gun were controlled by the gun layer while loading and unloading of the 105mm shells was handled by two dedicated loaders - one situated to the left of the breech and other to the right. Point-defense against infantry was handled by a 7.62mm Browning M1919A4 general purpose machine gun in the bow of the tank, front right hull. The ball-mounting allowed for limited traverse and elevation but was satisfactory for its role. This crewmember also managed the radio suite at his position. 2 x 12.7mm Browning M2HB heavy machine guns were fitted as coaxial mountings in the turret alongside the main gun. A third 12.7mm heavy machine gun was mounted to a pintle stem along the turret roof to counter threats from the air. Up to 63 x 105mm projectiles were carried aboard the tank as well as 2,420 rounds of 12.7mm heavy machine gun ammunition and 2,500 rounds of 7.62mm machine gun ammunition. The tank commander managed the gunner's actions while the loaders responded to target calls by supplying the appropriate ammunition required (be it HE or AP). The coaxial machine gun could also be used to mark target ranges for the main gun or engage enemy infantry and light-armored vehicles when the 105mm main gun was deemed "overkill".
Power to the T29 was supplied by a single Ford GAC 4-cycle V12 gasoline-fueled engine rated at 650 horsepower at 2,800rpm. This supplied the vehicle with an adequate top speed of 20 miles per hour. The Ford engine was further mated to a General Motors CD-850-1 series crossdrive transmission system with two forward and a single reverse gear setting.
The war in Europe was over in May of 1945 and the expected entrenched battles leading up to Berlin never materialized for the Allies in the West for it was the Soviet Army that took the brunt of the push into Berlin proper and captured the capital city through much loss of armor and life. Nevertheless, their sacrifices brought about an end to the European Campaign and the need for such a heavy tank in the Pacific Theater never formulated in part due to the dwindling resources of the Japanese war machine. The Japanese Empire itself capitulated in August o f 1945, bringing a formal end to the Second World War by September.
The US Army continued development and trials of their heavy tanks including the T29 but much interest and desire in such projects soon waned with the passing of time. As such, only six prototype vehicles were ever completed. After their evaluation, the T29, and all related kin, disappeared into the pages of history though the experience and data collected from these endeavors led to the development and eventual production of other systems such as the "M103 Heavy Tank" - a Cold War-era behemoth of 65 tons with 180mm armor thickness and a 120mm main gun. Only 300 of these were ever produced and operated across Europe in anticipation of a major Communist ground offensive that never materialized. Only two T29 prototypes managed to survive the "weapons purge" after World War 2 and both can be currently found on the grounds at Fort Knot, Kentucky, USA.