The M26 Pershing, despite a controversial gestation, is one of the most important AFVs in military history, because every American postwar tank up to and including the M60 series can directly trace its lineage to the M26. It also happens to be among my very favourite vehicles. One of the most-requested tanks from modelers for many years, DML finally gave us a great M26A1 and T26E3 (the designation for the first Pershings to see combat during the closing months of the European war) back in 1995/1996. Now, with the reissue of these excellent kits and the release of Tamiya's new M26, we are posting these photographs of two Pershings from the Patton Tank Museum in Fort Knox, Kentucky. The one shown above is an early vehicle, production number 221, in the rather garish markings of the 70th Tank Battalion during the Korean conflict.
This shot clearly shows the complexity of the castings around the hull machine gun mount. The actual plate that the machine gun projects from is quite flat, while some prominent machining marks are on the top of the housing. The round ring with the studs on it is for attachment of a canvas cover to protect the machine gun from the elements during transit. Of note on this vehicle is the fact that the inner towing shackles are of a different style than the outer ones (this is mirrored on both sides); the outer shackle extends down to the point of the bow casting, while the inner is both shorter and wider. This vehicle is fitted with the rubber chevroned T84E1 double pin track (available from AFV Club), more commonly seen on M46s and M47s.
This photo of the restored M26 on interior display at Fort Knox (there are at least half a dozen on display throughout the base) shows some variations in the castings around the machine gun; the texture of the armour is particularly prominent. The machine gun itself is fitted here, as well as the headlights. Details of the headlight guards and mounts can be seen, including the tube attached to the inner part of the headlight guard that holds the cap inserted to plug the hole left when the headlights are stowed inside the tank. Notice that both of the towing shackles are the same shape on this tank, although the inner one is still thicker. Some details of the construction of the inner part of the fender are also visible.
There are two distinct styles of bow castings on Pershings. Early M26s (including the one in the outside photographs) have a rounded housing in the center of the bow for a 400 cfm (cubic foot per minute) rotoclone blower, with a pair of auxiliary periscopes in the hull roof for the driver and assistant driver immediately outboard of the blower. This photograph shows the later, more squared style of blower housing on the bow of M26s built from number 550 on the Fisher production line and 235 by Chrysler, which housed a 1000 cfm blower, thereby providing increased ventilation. The auxiliary periscope openings were welded shut, and better ballistic protection resulted. Since M26A1s and M46s were converted from a variety of earlier M26s, it is possible to see both bow castings on virtually any member of the M26/M46 family; if you own DML's T26E3, M26A1, and M46 and are willing to swap parts, then the sky's the limit!
This excellent photo shows many great details of the area around the driver's hatch. The torsion bar hinge for the hatch is clearly visible, including the casting numbers on the hinges themselves and the latch on the hatch for locking it in the open position. In the foreground, above the hatch, is one of the three attachment points for a hoisting device that could be used to lift the vehicle's powertrain out; the presence of this indicates that this is a turret originally produced for a T25E1 and later brought up to T26E3 standards. The tops of the fender stowage boxes are also clearly visible, and at the top can be seen the fender brace attached to a lifting lug. These braces were a postwar addition, and were not seen on combat vehicles in the ETO. Finally, the cast texture of the hatch and the unusual pattern of the lip in front of the hatch are noteworthy.
This similar view of the bow machine gun position illustrates the appearance of the casting on the top of that housing, and lets us see even more details of the drivers' hatches, including the rotating periscope mount. Notice that the casting marks are not present on the hinges of this hatch. The profile of the lifting lugs, which flare prominently near their base, can be seen, as can the heavy weld marks that attach them to the hull.
The starboard bow of the turret is prominent in this photograph, which nevertheless is still revealing of hull details. In the foreground can be seen the horn and its protective guard, while behind the assistant driver's hatch is the protective housing for the external fire extinguisher actuators. The latches for the hull stowage bins, complete with locking points, can also be seen.
The complex shapes of the turret casting are very prominent, including the bulged "cheek" immediately above the fire extinguisher. At the extreme left, above the star, can be seen another of the mounts for the engine hoist (a device akin to the German three ton crane that could be mounted on the turret or roof of many late-war AFVs). The shape of the mantlet and mantlet housing can be seen, including the opening for the gunner's sight and the lifting lugs cast into the top of the mantlet.
This shot of the left side of the tank allows us to see how the fenders and their mounts are constructed, and also let us see some of the tie-downs that lined the side of the stowage bins.
On the turret, the cast texture is very evident. The two vertical lines alongside the star are the remnants of weld seams that attached track stowage to the turret, while the two squares above and to the right of the star are mounting points for a track tensioning device. The two hoisting device brackets are very evident in this view. Finally, the casting around the turret pistol port towards the rear can be seen.
Our final photograph for this section is of the front left side of the tank. The shape of the hull side around the driver's hatch can be seen, including the overhang and the plate welded to the hull as a catch for the hatch's latch. The hull lifting lug can be seen quite clearly in profile, giving us a good view of the weld which holds it in place. Some details of the gun mount can be seen, including the strips around both the mantlet and the mantlet housing for the attachment of a rubberized canvas cover. Finally, the holes in the end of the double-pinned tracks are very prominent.