M26 Pershing tank is the first heavy tank in U.S. Army. It was named after General John J. Pershing, who fought in the First World War (WWI). M26 Pershing tank was in service from early 1945 to early 1950s. It was the culmination of a series of tank prototypes from T20 in 1942 to T26E3 in 1945, The T26E3 version was renamed M26 in March 1945. After the Second World War (WWII), M26 Pershing tank was upgraded and renamed M46 Patton tank.
M26 Pershing tank weighs 41.7 tons. It measures 6.34 m long, 3.51 m wide, and 2.78 m high. M26 Pershing tank is powered by Ford GAF engine (8-cylinder, gasoline 450–500 hp, 340–370 kW).
The top speed of M26 Pershing tank can reach 40 km/h. Operational range of M26 Pershing tank is 160 km.
M26 Pershing tank is a significant improvement from M4 Sherman tank in terms of both firepower and armor protection. M26 Pershing tank’s 90-mm M3 gun was similar to German Tiger I’s 88 mm KwK 36 gun. To match German King Tiger (Tiger II)'s more powerful 88 mm KwK43 gun, the 90 mm T15E1 gun was mounted in a M26 Pershing tank in January 1945, which could penetrate the thick frontal armor of Panther tank at 2,400 m.
The M26 was introduced late into combat during WWII. In the Battle of the Bulge, German Panther and Tiger tanks caused heavy losses on Allied forces, which revealed the deficiencies of Allied tanks such as M4 Sherman. To engage German Tiger and Panther tanks, M26 Pershing tanks were deployed to Europe.
M26 Pershing tanks were first committed to tank combat on 25 February, 1945. A M26 Pershing tank knocked out a Tiger I and two Panzer IV tanks. The powerful 90 mm main gun of M26 Pershing tank hit the Tiger I tank at 820 m, and penetrated its front gun mantlet.
A Super M26 Pershing tank, with additional front armor, was shipped to Europe during WWII, which was assigned to the Third Armored Division.
(Heng Long 1/16 scale M26 Pershing RC tank model. The pictures were taken by TankArmy.com in Australia)
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