M-26 Heavy Transporter

The M-26 Heavy Transporter Truck & M-15 semitrailer were standardized together in June 1943 as a retriever for the M-4 Sherman medium tank. The tractor-trailer combination was originally designated as the M-25 but the nomenclature was changed in late 1944 to separately designate the tractor as the M-26 and the trailer as the M-15.

The combination of the M-26 Heavy Transporter Truck & M-15 Trailer was called the "Dragon Wagon" by the troops, a designation that was also used for other vehicles at other times.

During World War II, there were nine of these transporters in the Ordnance Maintenance Battalion of each armored division. The M-26 Heavy Transporter & M-15 Semi-Trailer remained in U.S. Army inventory through the 1950s and 1960s. It was gradually replaced by the M-123 Truck, Tractor, 10-Ton, 6x6 in the late 1950s and by the M-911 Commercial Heavy Equipment Transporter (C-HET), starting in 1977.

M-26 Heavy Transporter 6x6 Tractor, September 1944
M-26 Heavy Transporter 6x6 Tractor, September 1944.

Today in WW II: 14 Nov 1940 German Blitz air raids on Coventry, England with 449 bombers, destroy much of the city and its cathedral [November 14-16].  More 
14 Nov 1940 Greek army pushes the Italians out of Greece, chasing them into Albania.
14 Nov 1942 Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal pits aircraft from US carrier Enterprise and Henderson Field against large Japanese force trying to reinforce Guadalcanal by sea.
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M-26 Heavy Transporter 6x6 Tractor (G-160) & M-15 Semi-Trailer

The M-26 Heavy Transporter 6x6 Tractor had a fully armored cab that included hinged steel plates that could be fastened to cover the windows, allowing only slits for vision. The M-26A1 and M-26A2 had a soft top, not intended for use under fire. The tractors had a fifth wheel designed to connect to the M-15 semitrailer and had three winches. Two of the winches were 60,000 lb. units mounted behind the cab, for use in pulling a load onto the trailer. The third winch, with 35,000 lb. capacity, was front mounted, for use in self-recovery if the tractor became stuck.

The M-26 Tractor was armed with an M2 .50 cal. machine gun on a ring mount.

The M-15 semitrailer was an eight wheel flat bed that attached to the M26 fifth wheel and had rear loading ramps for loading tanks or other cargo. The rear wheels and ramps had adjustable width for loading vehicles of different sizes. The payload of the trailer was:

  • M-15 Semi-trailer: 80,000 lb. (40-tons) (36,287kg)
  • M-15A1 Semi-trailer: 90,000 lb. (45-tons) (40,823kg)
  • M-15A2 Semi-trailer: 100,000 lb. (50-tons) (45,359kg)

The M-26 Tractor units and the M-15/M-15A1 trailers were manufactured by Pacific Car & Foundry Co. of Renton, WA. The M-15A2 trailers were built by Freuhauf Trailer Co.

Find additional photos and hi-res versions of the M-26 Tractor Dragon Wagon at the Olive-Drab Military Mashup.

M26 6x6 Tractor & M15 Semi-Trailer Specifications:

Tractor length: 25 ft. 4 in. (7.72m)
Tractor width: 10 ft. 10.75 in. (3.32m)
Tractor height: 10 ft. 4 in. (3.14m)
Trailer length: 38 ft. 9 in. (11.81m)
Trailer width: 12 ft. 6.5 in. (3.81m)
Tractor curb weight: 41,300 lbs. (21,908kg)
Trailor curb weight: 35,000 lbs. (15,875kg)
Engine: Hall-Scott 440, 6cyl gas, 230bhp@2,100rpm
Speed: 26 mph (42km/hr)
Range: 250 mi. (400km)

M-26 tractor and M15 trailer carrying M-4 Sherman tank at the Musée des Blindés (Armor Museum), Saumur, France in 2003. Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Hollerman
M-26 tractor and M-15 trailer carrying M-4 Sherman tank at the Musée des Blindés (Armor Museum), Saumur, France in 2003. Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Hollerman.

M-26 Tractor retrieving a knocked-out M-4 Sherman tank near Bastogne, Belgium, December 1944.
M-26 Tractor retrieving a knocked-out M-4 Sherman tank near Bastogne, Belgium, December 1944.

M-26 Tractor with M-15 Trailer retrieving an M-4 Sherman tank during WW II
M-26 Tractor with M-15 Trailer retrieving an M-4 Sherman tank during WW II.

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