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M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank

The M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank, named for Gen. "Blackjack" Pershing, was developed to replace the M-4 Sherman tank at the end of World War II and was widely used in Korea during the 1950-1953 war.

An M26 Pershing tank is guided along a narrow mountain road during the Korean War
An M26 Pershing tank is guided along a narrow mountain road during the Korean War.

Today in WW II: 25 Oct 1943 American and New Zealand troops land at Mono and Stirling, Treasury Islands, south of Bougainville [25-27 Oct].  More 
25 Oct 1944 First operation by the Japanese Kamikaze Special Attack Force: 55 kamikazes strike 7 carriers and 40 other ships, sinking six, off Leyte, Philippines.
25 Oct 1944 Battle off Samar [Leyte]: US Admiral Sprague skillfully prevents a loss to the stronger Japanese force under Japanese Admiral Kurita.
25 Oct 1944 Battle off Cape Engaño (Leyte): lopsided naval battle resulting in the loss of most of Japanese Northern Force to US Admiral Halsey's carrier planes and battleships [25-26 Oct].
25 Oct 1944 Soviet Red Army enters Kirkenes, the first town in Norway to be liberated from the Germans.
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M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank

The M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank has heavier armor, a more powerful gun, and improved torsion bar suspension compared to the Sherman. A total of 2,222 M26 Pershing tanks were produced, beginning in November 1944, only 20 of which saw combat in Europe during World War II (photo below).

There is a persistent myth that Gen. Patton did not want this tank and delayed its development. That myth is not supported by any evidence and does not conform to the development history of the T26 which became the M-26. The Pershing was re-classified as a Medium tank after World War II in May 1946, when its engine and other components were upgraded. The new combination was redesignated the M-46 Patton Medium Tank.

The M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank was the backbone of Marine armor during the first half of the Korean War. The 1st Tank Bn, Fleet Marine Force, at Camp Pendleton, CA, replaced its M-4A3 Sherman tanks with Pershings during the summer of 1950, shortly after the North Korean invasion of South Korea.

The main armament of the M26 Pershing was its 90mm gun. Secondary .30 cal. machine guns were mounted co-axially in the turret and in the bow. A .50 cal. machine gun was mounted on top of the turret.

Specifications of the M26 Pershing Heavy Tank

Crew5
Weight92,500 lbs
Height9 ft. 1 in.
Width11 ft. 4 in.
Length20 ft. 8 in.
EngineFord, GAF, V-8, 1,100 cu. in. gasoline
Horsepower500 hp
FuelGasoline
Capacity183 gallons
Transmission3-speed Torquematic
Max Speed30 mph road, 18 mph crosscountry
Range100 miles

US Army M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank
9th AD M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank photographed near Vettweiss, Germany in March 1945.

M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank inspection at Ft. Lewis, WA in the late 1940s.  Photo: 2nd Infantry Division Museum
M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank inspection at Ft. Lewis, WA in the late 1940s. Photo: 2nd Infantry Division Museum.

USMC M-26 Pershing Heavy Tanks in Korea, 1950-1951
USMC M-26 Pershing Heavy Tanks in Korea, 1950-1951.

US Army M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank
M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank. Photo: Courtesy of Mark Holloway.

M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank
M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank, 1st Cavalry Division, Ft. Hood, TX, 31 March 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.

M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank
M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank, 1st Cavalry Division, Ft. Hood, TX, 31 March 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.

M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank
M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank, Texas Military Forces Museum, Camp Mabry, TX, 30 January 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.

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