Tank-O-Rama #3: T26 Pershing by Buffalo1 ()
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The T26 heavy tank weighed in at 48 tons mounting a 90mm gun and was the U.S. Army's long overdue answer to the German Panther and Tiger. Intramural arguments between the tank destroyer partisans and the heavy tank proponents within the army's command structure kept this heavy tank on the sidelines too long. General George C. Marshall finally stepped in and ordered the T26E3 model into production and it became the M26 Pershing tank. Twenty T26E3 models were rushed to Europe and saw combat with the 3rd and 9th Armored Divisions. In the actions where it met Panthers and Tigers the T26, which was renamed the M26 in March of 1945, did very well. The 90mm gun and increased armor protection being the answer American tankers had been looking for. By the end of the war about 300 M26s were in Europe.
The M26 had some problems due to using the same engine that late model M43E8 Sherman tanks used. The increased weight was too much. The army started to work on a modified version of the M26 with a better engine and other improvements which became the M46 Patton - the wildly painted tank in the photo's background. When the Korean War began in June of 1950 the army quickly found that the M24 Chaffee was no match for the Soviet built T34-85 that the North Koreans used. The three M26s that were found in a maintenance shop in Japan were quickly put back in working order and sent to Korea, but all broke down due to jury-rigged repairs. Soon they were joined by M4s, M26s, and M46s from the States. The mountains of Korea were not good tank country and the weak engines of the M26 caused the army to withdraw most M26s in 1951 and replace them with M46s.
The T26 was the lead in a series of medium tanks including the M46, M47, M48, and culminating in the M60 main battle tank. The tank pictured is the only surviving T26E4 which mounted the higher velocity 90 mm gun using two part ammunition. 20 of this type were built for testing purposes.
Image Comments (8)
CleonXXI () Online Now! 8:57AM | Thu, 04 June 2015
Great photo and info! The on the ground effect of the struggle between the tank and tank destroyer advocates in the Army was brought out pretty well in the recent movie "Fury", showing that until the advent of the M26 no single US tank could reasonably expect to win an engagement with their opposite German number if it was a Panther, Tiger, or Tiger II. A lot of people hand their hand in that argument, but the main guy who usually gets the blame in the history books is LTG Leslie J. McNair, commander of US Army Ground Forces in early WW2, meaning not that he was the guy who actually commanded army forces in the field, but was instead responsible for their training, organization, and equipping in the USA. For numerous reasons McNair erroneously believed that tanks shouldn't have to fight other tanks but rather be used as exploitation forces to go behind the enemy front lines after a breakthrough, which, as the war went on, led to US ground forces in Normandy needing massive amounts of air support to defeat the Germans as the US armored forces, due to their anemic equipment, weren't up to the task by without such support. McNair often visited the battlefronts, however, and on one such visit in summer 1944 to Normandy, was killed by a US Army Air Corps bomb in his foxhole as he observed the start of the Operation Cobra break-out offensive, where Omar Bradley used over 1500 bombers to provide massed carpet bombing to puncture the German front line, 77 aircraft of which "bombed short" on the US front line.
T.Rex () 1:40PM | Thu, 04 June 2015
Good photo of the beasie, and a great resumé of its history. I didn't know it was equal to the Panther and Tiger 1. A pity there weren't enough in the Korean conflict. Thanks for the education! Keep up the good work! :-)
debbielove () 7:22AM | Mon, 08 June 2015
I read much about rushed tanks sent to combat Tigers and Panthers in Europe.. The U.K. did much the same.. All sides had the same basis problem to start, under powered engines.. The Germans used the Panther one in the Tiger, well that's not going to work is it.. The U.S. you've mentioned and the British tried many types, the Comet being the best.. Still that was under gunned, but very well armoured.. The Chieftain arrived to late.. And this was to be the best MBT for years to come.. Great shot mate.. Rob