T26E3 (M26) Pershing heavy tank - case report

Modelers!!
      I built this beauty many years ago and only now I'm going to write something about this girl. She was born heavy, but later, was reclassified as medium. Let's meet the M26 (T26E3) Pershing.

M26 (T26E3) Pershing  of A Company, 14th Tank Battalion,
is transported aboard a pontoon ferry across the Rhine
Germany, March 12, 1945 built by the 1st Engineer Heavy Pontoon Battalion.
History:
      The M26 Pershing was a heavy tank/medium tank of the United States Army. The tank was named after General of the Armies John J. Pershing, who led the American Expeditionary Force in Europe in World War I. It was briefly used in the final months of World War II during the Invasion of Germany and extensively during the Korean War.
General of the Armies John J. Pershing
      Intended as a replacement of the M4 Sherman, the prolonged time of development meant that only a small number saw combat in the European theater, most notably in the 9th Armored Division's dramatic dash to take the Ludendorff Bridge during the Battle of Remagen
Bridge at Remagen (Ludendorff Bridge)
      Based on the criteria of firepower, mobility, and protection, R. P. Hunnicutt ranked the Pershing second, behind the German Panther medium tank, but ahead of the Tiger I heavy tank. 
Panther tank

Tiger I tank
      In service during the Korean War, the M26 outmatched the T-34/85 in terms of firepower and protection, but was challenged by the hilly and muddy terrain.
Russian T-34/85
      As a result was withdrawn in 1951 in favor of its improved derivative, the M46 Patton.
M46 Patton
     The lineage of the M26 continued with the M47 Patton, and was reflected in the new designs of the later M48 Patton and M60 Patton.
M47 Patton MBT

M48 Patton MBT

M60 Patton MBT
Development:
      The M26 was the culmination of a series of medium tank prototypes that began with the T20 in 1942 and was a significant design departure from the previous line of U.S. Army tanks that had ended with the M4 Sherman.
T20 medium tank (HVSS)
      Several design features were tested in the prototypes. Some of these were experimental dead-ends, but many become permanent characteristics of subsequent U.S. Army tanks. The prototype series began as a medium tank upgrade of the M4 Sherman and ended as the U.S. Army's first operational "heavy" tank.

Improving on the M4
      The army's first lineage of tanks evolved from the M1 Combat Car and progressed to the M2 Light Tank, M2 Medium Tank, M3 Lee, and finally the M4 Sherman. These tanks all had rear-mounted 9-cylinder radial Wright R-975 air-cooled engines and a front sprocket drive.
      This layout required a driveshaft to pass under the turret, which increased the overall height of the tank, a characteristic shared with German tanks of World War II that also used this layout.  The large diameter of the radial engines in M4 tanks added to the hull height. These features accounted for the high silhouette and large side sponsons that were characteristic of the M4 lineage.
Radial engine in the rear of M4 Sherman
      In the spring of 1942, as the M4 Sherman was entering production, U.S. Army Ordnance began work on a follow-up tank. The T20 tank reached a mock-up stage in May 1942, and was intended as an improved medium tank to follow the M4. An earlier heavy tank, the M6, had been standardized in February 1942, but proved to be a failure. The U.S. Army had no doctrinal use for a heavy tank at the time.
TlE2 (M6): cast hull. new cast turret. torque converter - production tank
T20
      The T20 was designed to have a more compact hull than the M4. The Ford GAN V-8, a lower silhouette version of the GAA engine used in later variants of the M4, had become available. The engine had originally been an effort by Ford to produce a V-12 liquid-cooled aircraft engine patterned after the Rolls-Royce Merlin, but failed to earn any aircraft orders and so was adapted as a V-8 for use in tanks; use of this lower profile engine together with the choice of a rear transmission and rear sprocket drive layout made it possible to lower the hull silhouette and eliminate the side sponsons.
T20 medium tank (HVSS)
      The T20 was fitted with the new 76 mm M1A1 gun, developed from the 3 inch anti-aircraft gun. The 76mm front hull armor was 13mm thicker than the 63mm front armor of the M4. The glacis plate slope was similar at 46°. The T20's overall weight was approximately the same as the M4.
     The T20 used an early version of the horizontal volute spring suspension (HVSS), another improvement compared to the less robust vertical volute spring suspension (VVSS) of the early versions of the M4. Later prototypes of the M26 tested a torsion bar suspension, which would become the standard for future U.S. tank suspension systems.


T22 and T23
      The T22 series reverted to the M4 transmission because of problems with the early Torqmatic transmission used in the T20. The T22E1 tested an autoloader for the 75mm main gun, and eliminated the loader's position with a small two-man turret.
T22E1 (HVSS) with 75mm autoloader gun
Notice the small turret, for two men
      Through much of 1943, there was little perceived need within the U.S. Army for a better tank than the 75 mm M4 Sherman, and so, lacking any insights from the rest of the army as to what was needed, the Ordnance Department next took a developmental detour into electrical transmissions with the T23 series.
      The electrical transmission was built by General Electric, and had the engine driving a generator that powered two traction motors. The concept was similar to the drive system of the German PzKpfw VI Tiger (P) (later rebuilt as the Ferdinand/Elefant). It had performance advantages in rough or hilly terrain, where the system could better handle the rapid changes in torque requirements.
PzKpfw VI Tiger (P)
      The electrical transmission T23 was championed by the Ordnance Department during this phase of development. After the initial prototypes were built in early 1943, an additional 250 T23 tanks were produced from January to December 1944. These were the first tanks in the U.S. Army with the 76 mm M1A1 gun to go into production.
T23 medium tank (VVSS) early
Notice the Sherman style bogies and T23 turret
      However, the T23 would have required that the army adopt an entirely separate line of training, repair, and maintenance, and so was rejected for combat operations.

      The primary legacy of the T23 would thus be its production cast turret, which was designed from the outset to be interchangeable with the turret ring of the M4 Sherman. The T23 turret was used on all production versions of the 76 mm M4 Sherman as the original M4 75 mm turret was found to be too small to easily mount the 76 mm M1A1 gun. The first production 76 mm M4 with the T23 turret, the M4E6, was built in the summer of 1943.

T25 and T26
      The T25 and T26 lines of tanks came into being in the midst of a heated internal debate within the U.S. Army in the mid-1943 to early 1944 over the need for tanks with greater firepower and armor. A 90 mm gun mounted in a massive new turret was installed in both series.
T25 medium tank with 90mm turret (HVSS)


       The T26 series were given additional frontal hull armor, with the glacis plate increased to 10 cm. This increased the weight of the T26 series to over 40 short tons (36 t) and decreased their mobility and durability as the engine and powertrain were not improved to compensate for the weight gain.
T26 E1 first pilot Pershing configuration
     The T26E3 was the production version of the T26E1 with a number of minor modifications made as the result of field testing. Following its introduction into combat, it was renamed the M26 in March 1945.
T26E3 Co.A,14th Tank Battalion,9th AD on the road between Thum and Ginnick
Germany on March 1,1945 shortly before the Remagen Operation.
Production:
      Production finally began in November 1944. Ten T26E3 tanks were produced that month at the Fisher Tank Arsenal, 30 in December, 70 in January 1945, and 132 in February. The Detroit Tank Arsenal also started production in March 1945, and the combined output was 194 tanks for that month. Production continued through the end of the war, and over 2,000 were produced by the end of 1945.
Completed T26E3 Pershing heavy tanks loading in flat railcars at the Detroit Tank Arsenal.
Detroit, USA- 1945.
      See below two US Army Training Film (Field Bulletin) on the T26E3 Pershing heavy tank:



Super Pershing:
      The 90mm M3 gun of the Pershing was similar to the German 88 mm KwK 36 used on the Tiger I. In an effort to match the firepower of the King Tiger's more powerful 88 mm KwK 43, the T15E1 90 mm gun was developed and mounted in a T26E1 in January 1945. This tank was designated T26E1-1. The T15E1 gun was 73 calibers in length and had a much longer high-capacity chamber. This gave it a muzzle velocity of 1,140 m/s with the T30E16 APCR shot and could penetrate the Panther's frontal armor at up to 2,400 m. The model shown used single-piece 1,300 mm ammunition and was the only Super Pershing sent to Europe. Further more the Super Pershing had 2 added layers of Panther armor crudely bolted onto the front of the tank hull and mantlet on the turret.
     A second pilot tank was converted from a T26E3 and used a modified T15E2 gun that had two-piece ammunition. Twenty-five production models of the tank, designated T26E4, were built. An improved mounting removed the need for stabilizer springs.
T26E4 Super Pershing - standard production
Notice the absence of add armour and the recoil springs
      Post-war, two M26 tanks had the T54 gun installed, which had the same long gun barrel, but the ammunition cartridge was designed to be shorter and fatter, while still retaining the propellant force of the original round. The tanks were designated as the M26E1 tank, but lack of funds cut off further production.

After the war
      Post World War II, some 800 M26 tanks were upgraded with improved engines and transmissions and 90-mm gun and were redesignated as the M46 Patton.
      In May 1946, due to changing conceptions of the U.S. Army's tank needs, the M26 was reclassified as a medium tank. Designed as a heavy tank, the Pershing was a significant upgrade from the M4 Sherman in terms of firepower and protection. On the other hand, its mobility was unsatisfactory for a medium tank (it used the same engine that powered the M4A3, which was some ten tons lighter) and its transmission was somewhat unreliable. In 1948, the M26E2 version was developed with a new powerplant. Eventually, the new version was redesignated the M46 General Patton and 1,160 M26s were rebuilt to this new standard. Thus the M26 became a base of the Patton tank series, which replaced it in early 1950s. The M47 Patton was an M46 Patton with a new turret. The later M48 Patton and M60 Patton, which saw service in later Vietnam and Mideast conflicts and still serve in active duty in many nations today, were evolutionary redesigns of the original layout set down by the Pershing.

Combat history:
World War II in Europe
      Development of the M26 during World War II was prolonged by a number of factors, the most important being opposition to the tank from Army Ground Forces. However, the tank losses experienced in the Battle of the Bulge against a concentrated German tank force composed of some 400 Panther tanks, as well as Tiger II tanks and other German armored fighting vehicles, revealed the deficiencies in the M4 Shermans and tank destroyers in the American units.
Battle of the Bulge  - US 3rd Army M4 (105) VVSS firing theirs howitzers

      This deficiency motivated the military to ship the tanks to Europe, and on 22 December 1944, the T26E3 tanks were ordered to be deployed to Europe.
     Due to the repeated design and production delays, initially only 20 Pershing tanks were introduced into the European theater of operations after the Battle of the Bulge showed the serious mismatch between Allied and German armor. This first shipment of Pershings arrived in Antwerp in January 1945. They were given to the 1st Army, which split them between the 3rd and 9th Armored Divisions.
T26E3 Pershing - 14th Tank Battalion - 9th Armored Division - Zebra Mission
Vettweiss, Germany - April, 1945.
       A total of 310 T26E3 tanks were eventually sent to Europe before VE Day, but only the 20 that arrived in January engaged in combat.

     In February 1945, Major General Gladeon M. Barnes, chief of the Research and Development Section of Army Ordnance, personally led a special team to the European Theater, called the Zebra Mission. Its purpose was to support the T26E3 tanks, which still had teething problems, as well as to test other new weapons. In March, the T26E3 tanks were redesignated as the M26.
      The 3rd Armored first used the M26 to engage the enemy on February 25 near the Roer River. On 26 February, a T26E3 named Fireball was knocked out in an ambush at Elsdorf while overwatching a roadblock. Silhouetted by a nearby fire, the Pershing was in a disadvantageous position. A concealed Tiger tank fired three shots from about 100 yd (91 m). The first penetrated the turret through the machine gun port in the mantlet, killing both the gunner and the loader. The second shot hit the gun barrel, causing the round that was in the chamber to fire with the effect of distorting the barrel. The last shot glanced off the turret side, taking off the upper cupola hatch. While backing up to escape, the Tiger became entangled in debris and was abandoned by the crew. Fireball was quickly repaired and returned to service on 7 March.
Pershing x Tiger near Roer River results.
26 February 1945.
      Shortly afterward, also at Elsdorf, another T26E3 knocked out a Tiger I and two Panzer IVs. The Tiger was knocked out at 820 m with the 90-mm HVAP T30E16 ammunition. Photographs of this knocked out Tiger I in Hunnicutt's book showed a penetration through the lower gun shield.

      On 6 March, just after the 3rd Armored Division had entered the city of Cologne, a famous tank duel took place.
M26 Pershing of the 3rd Armored Division
Cologne, 6 March 1945: The tank duel at the Cathedral
     A Panther tank on the street in the front of Cologne Cathedral was lying in wait for enemy tanks. Two M4 Shermans were supporting infantry and came up on the same street as the Panther. They ended up stopping just before the Cathedral because of rubble in the street and didn't see the enemy Panther. The lead Sherman was knocked out, killing three of the five crew. A T26E3 was in the next street over and was called over to engage the Panther. What happened next was described by the T26E3 gunner Cpl. Clarence Smoyer:
      "We were told to just move into the intersection far enough to fire into the side of the enemy tank, which had its gun facing up the other street [where the Sherman had been destroyed]. However, as we entered the intersection, our driver had his periscope turned toward the Panther and saw their gun turning to meet us. When I turned our turret, I was looking into the Panther's gun tube; so instead of stopping to fire, our driver drove into the middle of the intersection so we wouldn't be a sitting target. As we were moving, I fired once. Then we stopped and I fired two more shells to make sure they wouldn't fire at our side. All three of our shells penetrated, one under the gun shield and two on the side. The two side hits went completely through and out the other side."

      Four of the Panther's crew were able to successfully bail out of the stricken tank before it was destroyed. The action was recorded by a Signal Corps cameraman Tec.Sgt Jim Bates.



      On the same day, another T26E3 was knocked out in the town of Niehl near Cologne, by a rarely-seen Nashorn 88 mm SP anti-tank gun, at a range of under 300 yd (270 m). There were two other tank engagements involving the T26E3, with one Tiger I knocked out during the fighting around Cologne, and one Panzer IV knocked out at Mannheim.

      The T26E3s with the 9th Armored Division saw action in fighting around the Roer River with one Pershing disabled by two hits from a German 150 mm field gun.

      A platoon of five M26s, less one that was being serviced, played a key role in helping Combat Command B of the 9th Armored capture the Ludendorff Bridge during the Battle of Remagen on March 7–8, 1945, providing fire support to the infantry in order to take the bridgehead before the Germans could blow it up. In encounters with Tigers and Panthers, the M26 performed well. Some of the division's other tanks were able to cross the bridge, but the T26E3s were too large and heavy to cross the damaged bridge and had to wait five days before getting across the river by barge. Europe's bridges were in general not designed for heavy loads, which had been one of the original objections to sending a heavy tank to Europe.

Super Pershing
      A single Super Pershing was shipped to Europe and given additional armor to the gun mantlet and front hull by the maintenance unit before being assigned to one of the tank crews of the 3rd Armored Division. The new gun on the Super Pershing could pierce 330 mm of armor at 91 m. The front hull was given two 38 mm steel boiler plates, bringing the front up to 38+38+102 mm of armor. The plates were applied at a greater slope than the underlying original hull plate. The turret had 88 mm thick rolled homogeneous armour (RHA) from a Panther turret welded to the mantlet, covering the front.
      An account of the combat actions of this tank appeared in the war memoir Another River, Another Town, by John P. Irwin, who was the tank gunner. Zaloga described three actions in his book. On 4 April, the Super Pershing engaged and destroyed a German tank, or something resembling a tank, at a range of 1,500 yd (1,400 m). On 12 April, the Super Pershing claimed a German tank of unknown type. On 21 April, the Super Pershing was involved in a short-range tank duel with a German tank, which it knocked out with a shot to the belly. Irwin described this German tank as a Tiger, but Zaloga was skeptical of this claim. After the war, the single Super Pershing in Europe was last photographed in a vehicle dump in Kassel, Germany, and was most likely scrapped.

Use in Okinawa:
      In May 1945, as fierce fighting continued on the island of Okinawa, and M4 tank losses mounted, plans were made to ship the M26 Pershing tanks to that battle. On May 31, 1945, a shipment of 12 M26 Pershing tanks were dispatched to the Pacific for use in the Battle of Okinawa.
Two M26 pershing in the Naha beach - Okinawa.
They arrived too late to take part in the Island battles
      Due to a variety of delays, the tanks were not completely offloaded on the beach at Naha, Okinawa until 4 August. By then, fighting on Okinawa had come to an end, and VJ Day followed on 2 September 1945.

Variants:
  • M26 (T26E3). M3 gun with double-baffle muzzle brake. Main production model.
  • M26A1. M3A1 gun with bore evacuator and single-baffle muzzle brake.
  • T26E1-1 (T26E4-1 or M26A1E2). Version armed with a T15E1 large exterior stabilizer springs single piece ammo (used in combat).
  • T26E4. Experimental version armed with a long T15E2 gun two-part ammunition, improved mounting removed the need for springs.
  • M26E1. Longer gun, single-part ammunition T54 gun. (post war)
  • M26E2. New engine and transmission and M3A1 gun. Reclassified as the M46 Patton. (post war)
  • T26E2, eventually standardized for use as the Medium Tank M45—a close support vehicle with a 105 mm howitzer (74 rounds).
  • T26E5. Prototype with thicker armor—a maximum of 279 mm— based on the experience of the heavily armored assault tank M4A3E2.
Specs:
T26E3 Pershing
TypeHeavy tank/Medium tank
Place of origin                                 United States
Service history
In service1945–early 1950s
WarsWorld War II, Korean War
Production history
Designed1942–1944
ManufacturerDetroit Arsenal Tank Plant
Fisher Tank Arsenal
Produced1944–1945
No. built2,212
Specifications
Weight41.7 t
Length6.337 m (turret facing aft)
8.649 m (turret facing forward)
Width3.51 m
Height2.78 m
Crew5 (Commander, Gunner, loader, driver, co-driver)

ArmorT26E3
Upper hull = 102 mm
Lower hull and turret sides= 76 mm
Hull sides = 50–75 mm
Main
armament
90 mm Gun M3
70 rounds
Secondary
armament
2× Browning .30-06
5,000 rounds
1× Browning .50 cal.
550 rounds
EngineFord GAF; 8-cylinder, gasoline
450–500 hp (340–370 kW)
Power/weight11.9 hp (8.9 kW) /tonne
Suspensiontorsion bar
Operational
range
160 km
Speed48 km/h (road)
8.45 km/h (off-road)

The kit:
      For this project, I used this Pre-Cambrian Dragon's kit: T26E3 Heavy Tank (#dra6032). A real vintage girl...
Old times kit...

and a little pearl for this old girl...

      I started the assembly by the construction of the wheels and the suspension, work always executed with patience and care, not to damage the details of the model. The first contact with plastic was unpleasant to me: it is friable and brittle. It takes great care to cut the most delicate parts of the sprues...
Wheels and suspension parts...
      The arms of the torsion bars of the suspension must be assembled very carefully, as they are glued and do not get misaligned. The wheels have no possibility of rotation, nor the arms have movements. I chose to build only the arms, leaving the wheels for after painting, to make painting easier.
The suspension in aligment...
      While the suspension dries in alignment, I advance the building ...The exhaust has a hole with little depth. I decided to drill it, to give more sense of reality to the piece, which stands out in the back of the tank. In this leak the gun barrel travel-lock is secured. I did this with the Dremel and a spherical laminated drill. See photo below of semi-finished and finished part (in detail):


The surgery in exhaust done!!
      I glued the hull to the chassis, being careful to perfectly align the fittings. A small gap appeared between the upper-deck and the back of the hull. I'll seal it with a strip of plasticard, later ...
The upper hull and chassi
      The turret building does not present any mystery. I made the antennas with acupuncture needles ... They're ideal ... The .50 Browning machine gun is a little gem. I've separated it to paint it in detail ...
The metal gun in place...
      Below, the frontal view of the hull and turret. Look at the delicacy of plastic periscopes. I chose to leave the hull hatches closed and the turret hatches open. The crew will be installed in the future ...
Almost a tank...

Notice the thin strip of plasticard that I added to fill the gap between the back and the rear upper-deck ...
      The instructions booklet have a serious omission: Tell to glue the parts (tensioning arms) C32 and C33 attached to the front fenders and parts C35 and C34 in the rear.
No use these parts for T26E3!!!

      To build the T26E3, skip this step .... Only the post WWII M26s used these tensioning arms ...

 Best part: painting and markings...
Olive drab in tones....


Time for the wheels...
       And markings: T26E3 Pershing. B Company, 19th Tank Battailon, 9th Armored Division, 1st Army, 12th Army Group - Aachen, Germany - 1945.


The glossy aspect is the Future, to prevent silvering...





   Now, the worst part: LBL tracks...I hate this!!! My choice: dichloromethane for this ... It is an industrial version of the Tenax 7R welder...
The good news is that the links fit perfectly ...

Links under construction...
The welder: true wonderful!!!
Links in the idler wheel...

Links in the drive sprocket...
      Finally, the girl was ready: T26E3 Pershing. B Company, 19th Tank Battailon, 9th Armored Division, 1st Army, 12th Army Group - Aachen, Germany - 1945.
T26E3 Pershing. B Company, 19th Tank Battailon, 9th Armored Division,
1st Army, 12th Army Group - Aachen, Germany - 1945.










T26E3 Pershing. B Company, 19th Tank Battailon, 9th Armored Division,
1st Army, 12th Army Group - Aachen, Germany - 1945.
      Although an old kit (1995) and without the accessories common today in the new kits (spare parts, PE and aluminum tubes), this Pershing was a pleasant surprise. Easy and quick assembly, and in just one weekend she was already running happily by my bookshelf, looking scornfully at the Shermans and ugly for the Panthers and Tigers parked there!

See you soon, Boys!!!

8 comentários:

  1. Respostas
    1. Thanks, Roman!!! Thanks for the incentive...

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  2. Thank you for the information! Here is an idea for you. I was watching Kelly's Heros the other night and thought about you Kojack figure. Do you think it would be appropriate to rework Kojack into Joe wearing a tanker's outfit or maybe a undershirt? Don't forget the missing half finger, the index finger on the left hand.

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    Respostas
    1. Hi JClifford!! Nice to see you here, again!! Convert Kojak in Joe?? It's an idea, but maybe Kojak's assistants may be sad or jealous. They love the silent, introspective way of the bald guy .... And do not forget that Rover... Rover (the dog) can get sick. But thank you very much for your suggestion ... Maybe one day he needs a "plastic surgery" and his opinion is a great idea ... Happy New year, my friend!!!

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  3. Great, great work and report again.

    M26 and M24, both are completely redesigned,
    no any an emergency solution for an same old base plate
    such as M3 light, M3 and M4 wagons are.

    A few strange, or well-know details.
    Side-profile is same, like M24 tank
    Nice tank.
    Sherman progress of forward is well visible
    Large tank, maybe a little light weight.
    The tower side profile is slightly Tiger-II and also Sherman's effect
    Track-shoe pattern looks like Russian (last pictures)
    not like traditional Yanque-rubberized track
    E4 version of the long tube than JS-3 tank

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    Respostas
    1. Maximex, indeed!! the Pershe girl was a mix of many designs, recognized in many vehicles. You have hawk eyes, my friend !!! Hugs!!

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