The M26 Heavy Tank or Pershing was a heavy tank used by the United States.
It had an 8 cylinder, gasoline powered, Ford GAF engine which was capable of propelling the Pershing at speeds of up to around 48 km/h. It also had a 3 speed forward, 1 speed reverse transmission and a crew of five men.
It had an armament of one 90mm main gun, one 12.7mm M2 MG, and two 7.62mm Browning M1919 MGs. Around 70 rounds of ammunition were carried for the main gun, about 600 for the M2, and about 5,000 rounds for the M1919s mounted coaxially and in the bow. The weight of the Pershing was about 41,900 kilograms. and the length was about 8.5 meters. The armor protection on the front of the tank was a little over 101mm while the sides were about 50 mm. The rear was about the same as the sides in terms of armor. Furthermore, the Pershing utilized a torsion bar suspension system.
Being armed with such a fearsome main gun and being protected to the same extent, the Pershing was certainly a heavy tank that could deal with its German counterparts, the Tiger and Panther. However, with so few examples being produced during the war, the German heavies could continue to maintain superiority on the battlefield, fighting mainly against late war M4 Shermans and various other British tanks like the Cromwell.
The M26 Pershing had only one variant that were used in WWII. That variant was the T26E4, or "super Pershing", which featured a much higher velocity 90mm anti-tank gun. After the war, other variants and prototypes were built. The M26E2 was a tesbed for a new, more powerful engine, and was the first step in developing the M46 'Patton' Medium Tank.The M26A1 Pershing was fitted a new M3A1 main gun which itself included a bore evacuator, when there were a lack of new engines to bring the M26 tanks up to M46 standard.
Lastly, there was the T26E1, which was based off the T26E4, but used a fatter, shorter ammunition casing, which made the large gun much easier to load.
The M26 Pershing prototype rose out of the need for a heavy tank because of the many tank advancements made by Germany. the first prototype was the T26 (not to be confused with the Soviet T-26 light tank), then T26E1, then T26E2, and so on until the T26E5 which was the last prototype until the M26 design was finished.
The Peshing first saw combat in early 1945 in the European Theater and even saw service on Okinawa in May 1945. However, they only saw limited service, with very few if any actually fighting with Axis armored vehicles. Typically, M26s were used to mop up remaining German troops and secure territory into Germany itself. In total, about 2,000 Pershings were made and it inspired several new tank designs including the Patton series. After WWII the M26 was redesignated as a medium tank and was used mainly in the Korean War, fighting now North Korean T-34-85s and other former Soviet designs.
- ↑ http://www.wwiivehicles.com/usa/tanks-heavy/m26.asp
- ↑ http://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=64