90 mm Gun T15E1/E2/T54

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Summary

The 90 mm Gun T15/54 is a series of 90 mm gun made as an improvement over the M3 gun variant on the M26 Pershings in an attempt to create an equivalent to the 8.8 cm KwK 43 of the Tiger II. Featuring a L/73 cannon barrel over the M3's L/53 barrel length, the T15/54 guns feature a much higher muzzle velocity, giving their shells a much powerful boost.

Variants

  • T15E1 - Initial variant, proved too cumbersome for Pershing mount due to excessively long one-piece ammunition.
  • T15E2 - Modified to use two-piece ammunition.
  • T54 - Modified back to one-piece ammunition using a shorter, but fatter cartridge to keep same powder charge.

Game Usage

The 90 mm Gun T15/54s are found on the American heavy tank T26E1-1 "Super Pershing", T32, and the medium tank M26E1. This gun gives these tanks a very powerful punch against the enemy player. However, the gun's cumbersome nature gives these tanks a lengthy reload time in comparison to the normal 90 mm M3, especially in the T32 due to the two-piece nature of the shells. Nevertheless, if able to reload, the 90 mm M82 shells provide ample firepower and post-penetration damage to be able to defeat most tanks if able to penetrate the armor.

Guns of comparable performance

Users

Ammunition

Ammunition Penetration in mm @ 90° Type of
warhead
Velocity
in m/s
Projectile
Mass in kg
Fuse delay in m: Fuse sensitivity in mm: Explosive Mass in
TNT equivalent
in g:
Normalization At 30° from horizontal: Ricochet:
10m 100m 500m 1000m 1500m 2000m 0% 50% 100%
T43 shot 217 216 202 186 172 164 AP 975 11 N/A N/A N/A -1° 47° 60° 65°
T42 shell 13 13 13 13 13 13 HE 975 11 0.4 0.5 925 +0° 79° 80° 81°
T41 204 202 196 181 165 152 APCBC 975 11 1.2 20 137.2 +4° 48° 63° 71°
T44 shot 270 266 250 231 214 195 APCR 1143 7.6 N/A N/A N/A +1.5° 66° 70° 72°

History of creation and combat usage

The 90 mm Gun M3 was a successful weapon in US service, able to deal with most German armor threat in the European Theater. The M3 was comparable to the Tiger I's 88 mm gun, but the Tiger II's 88 mm gun was much longer and more powerful than the original. Ordnance decided that an equivalent must be had in US inventory. The original 90 mm gun barrel was made much longer and the chamber was made larger and more sturdier to handle the powerful cannon charge. The developed weapon was the 90 mm Gun T15. It had an impressively long L/73 cannon barrel and fired cartridges that were 50 inches long, in contrast to the M3's 37.5 inch long cartridges. The first variants were called the T15E1 and were attached to T26E1 number 1 for testing. The enormous gun presented several shortcomings, namely that the 50 inch cartridges were too long for the Pershing turret. This was fixed with the T15E2 gun variant which modified the gun to accept two-piece 90 mm shells instead of a single fixed piece. Although loading was still troublesome due to the long casings, it was easier than the full piece. Though slated for mass production alongside the Pershing production, the dwindling favor for two-piece ammunition in the face of better single-piece ones made the T15E2 fade away.[1]

The trials with the T15 showed room for improvements and a new gun, labeled T54, was produced to fix the problem with the excessively long cartridges. The 90 mm shell was now a single fixed piece, but the casing of the cartridge was shorter than the T15's, but much fatter in diameter. The expanded width allows for the same propellant charge to be use despite the reduced length by keeping the internal volume consistent. The T54 gun was also shorter than the T15's to keep it more compact and maneuverable in close quarters. The first of the T54 guns were mounted onto Pershing models in June 1945 and were designated M26E1s. Two tanks were converted with this gun and tests from February 1947 to January 1949 prove the T54 as a reliable weapon. But the cuts in research funds after World War II reduced weapon development and thus the T54 was not considered for mass issue on tanks.[1]

Images

Additional information (links)

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hunnicutt, R.P. Pershing: A History of the Medium Tank T20 Series U.S.A.: Feist Publications, 1971