M-36 Tank Destroyer

Tank Destroyers were specialized units designed to engage and destroy enemy armor, opening the way for Allied tanks to exploit the gaps. In addition to the antitank role, the Tank Destroyers were used as mobile artillery for assault against prepared defenes and fortifications as well as antipersonnel. During WW II, tanks did not have sufficient firepower for this task leading to the concept of a separate tank destroyer platform. The M-36 series Tank Destroyers (called the Jackson) provided an increase in firepower vs. the M-10 Tank Destroyer.

The T71 prototype of the M36 Tank Destroyer was completed during March 1943, based on the M10A1 TD chassis with a new turret mounting the 90mm M3 gun. Following testing and correction of problems, in June 1944 the vehicle was standardized as the 90mm Gun Motor Carriage, M36.

M36 tank destroyer, 628th TD Bn., Rheydt, Germany, 1 March 1945
M36 tank destroyer, 628th TD Bn., Rheydt, Germany, 1 March 1945.

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Carriage, Motor, 90mm Gun, M36

Carriage, Motor, 90mm Gun, M36 (M36 Tank Destroyer) is a modification of the 3-inch Gun Motor Carriage, M10A1, designed to provide a more powerful self-propelled antitank gun. While the original development of the M36 Tank Destroyer was based on the M10A1 Tank Destroyer, high demand for the M36 combined with wartime shortages of donor hull and chassis as well as other limitations forced the creation of three variants:

Variant Base Vehicle Production
M36 M10A1 TD hull, M4A3 Sherman tank chassis 1298
M36B1 M4A3 Sherman hull and chassis 187
M36B2 M10 TD hull, M4A2 Sherman chassis; 287

All the M36 TD variants were called 90mm Gun Motor Carriages, armed with the 90mm Gun, M3 in the 90mm Gun Mount, M4A1, contained in a new turret with 3G0 degree power traverse and an elevation range of 30 degrees. The gun is equipped with a muzzle brake. The open top turret has a partial turret basket. Seats that traverse with the turret are provided for the gunner, loader, and commander. A driver and assistant driver had positions in the hull. Note that the turret was new production, but the hulls and chassis were cannibalized from existing vehicles.

To allow revision of interior stowage and ammunition arrangements (47 rounds of 90mm ammunition) and other differences from the donor vehicles, small chages to the exterior and interior hull, running gear and suspension were made.

Power for the M36 and M36B1 is supplied by a Ford GAA gasoline engine, with a cruising range of 150 miles. The M36B2 is powered by twin General Motors 6046 diescl engines having a cruising range of 200 miles.

Additional armament was a .50 cal. antiaircraft machine gun.

M36 Tank Destroyer (Carriage, Motor, 90mm Gun, M36) M2A1 Medium Tank Characteristics

Length 20 ft. 2 in.
Width 10 ft.
Height (AA MG folded) 8 ft. 11 in.
Weight (Gross) 62,000 lbs
Armament 90mm Gun, M3 in Mount, M4A1
One .50 cal. machine gun on turret pedestal mount
Frontal armor Upper: 1.5 in.; Lower: 4 in. to 2.5 in.
Engine Ford GAA V8 gasoline engine, 500hp@2,600rpm
Max speed 26mph on level
Range (roads) 150mi
Fording depth (at min. speed) 36 in.
Crew 5 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver, asst, druver)

Table data for Carriage, Motor, 90mm Gun, M36. Material on this page adapted from Mobile Artillery vs. Jap Fortifications, Office of the Chief of Ordnance, Washington, DC, May 1945 and other sources.

Find additional photos and hi-res versions of the M36 Tank Destroyer at the Olive-Drab Military Mashup.

M36 Tank Destroyer Photo Gallery

M36 Tank Destroyer of the 704th Tank Bn., 82nd Abn. Div., near Werbomont, Belgium, 20 December 1944
M36 Tank Destroyer of the 704th Tank Bn., 82nd Abn. Div., near Werbomont, Belgium, 20 December 1944.

M36 Tank Destroyer (90mm Gun Motor Carriage) painted white for snow camouflage, except its bogie wheels which a crew member is doing in the photo, ETO winter of 1944-1945
M36 Tank Destroyer (90mm Gun Motor Carriage) painted white for snow camouflage, except its bogie wheels which a crew member is doing in the photo, ETO winter of 1944-1945.

M-36B1 Tank Destroyer
M-36B1 Tank Destroyer at 4th Infantry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.

M-36B1 Tank Destroyer
M-36B1 Tank Destroyer at 4th Infantry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.