|This page is about the American medium tank M26. For other versions, see M26 (Family).|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The Medium Tank M26 Pershing is a rank IV American medium tank with a battle rating of 6.7 (AB) and 6.3 (RB/SB). It was one of the first American tanks to be released with the American ground tree in Update 1.45 "Steel Generals". Armed with the 90 mm M3 gun, this vehicle is able to compete effectively against late World War II tanks.
Survivability and armour
- Cast homogeneous armour (Front, turret)
- Rolled homogeneous armour (Side, Rear, Roof)
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides||Rear||Roof|
|Hull|| 101.6 mm (42-46°) Front Glacis
162.5 mm (25-60°) Upper front glacis
76.2 mm (28-53°) Lower Glacis
| 76.2 mm (0-1°) Front
50.8 mm (0-3°) Rear
| 50.8 mm (7°) Top
22.2 mm (71°) Bottom
|Turret|| 101.6 mm (1-55°) Turret front
114.3 mm (1-84°) Gun mantlet
|76.2 mm (2-54°)||76.2 mm (0-79°)||25.4 mm|
|Cupola||76.2 mm||76.2 mm||76.2 mm||25.4 mm|
- Suspension wheels and tracks are 20 mm thick.
- Belly armour is 25.4 mm thick.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Modifications and economy
The best thing to do for this tank is getting "Parts", "FPE", "M82 Shot", and "M304 Shot" as fast as you can. With M304 shot you'll be a lot stronger on the field as you'll be able to penetrate relatively any medium and most heavies. However, you are subject to get hit in the side or front many times and will need the FPE and parts to repair on the field or you'll become burnt toast. After you've unlocked these modules, it's best to work down by putting manoeuvrability as a priority.
|90 mm M3||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive Mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|Smoke shell characteristics|
| Screen radius
| Screen deploy time
| Screen hold time
| Explosive Mass|
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|70||65 (+5)||56 (+14)||48 (+22)||40 (+30)||32 (+38)||24 (+46)||17 (+53)||11 (+59)||1 (+69)||No|
- Shells are modeled individually and disappear after having been shot or loaded.
- 1 shell from rack 7 is fired after rack 1 is emptied. For the purpose of clarity, it is counted as belonging to rack 2 in the table above.
- Rack 9 is a first stage ammo rack. It totals 10 shells and gets filled first when loading up the tank.
- This rack is also emptied early: the rack depletion order at full capacity is: 9 - 1 - 2 - etc. until 8.
- If you pack 17 (+53) shells, it will keep most of the hull empty of ammo.
- Full reload speed will be realized as long as shells are available in the ready rack 9. If the ready rack is empty, a penalty to reload speed will occur.
- Simply not firing when the gun is loaded will move ammo from racks 1-8 into rack 9. Firing will interrupt the restocking of the ready rack.
|12.7 mm M2HB|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
The roof-mounted M2HB .50 cal heavy machine gun is very good at knocking out tracks, punching through lightly armoured vehicles and shooting down low-flying aircraft. Use it sparingly because of its low ammo count.
|7.62 mm M1919A4|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
The small calibre of the M1919A4 machine gun makes it largely ineffective against all armoured vehicles but the ones with an open compartment. It still can be used to ping targets as a rangefinding help or to mow down minor obstacles blocking your line of sight.
Usage in battles
- Combat tactics
The M26 can perform in many different roles in battle. It can be used for supporting heavy tanks with long reload time as IS-2 or T32 or it can take part in flanking manoeuvres: your speed and agility are not brilliant but sufficient for that role. It can also be successful in sniping and ambushing situations. Use the lower profile of Pershing compared to the Sherman's to navigate through. Your depression angle allows you to shoot from upper positions without exposing too much yourself. That's an advantage compared to most Soviet vehicles which have close to no gun depression angle.
The 90 mm M3 gun owns a wide selection of ammunition to be used. The M82 APCBC with an explosive filler is extremely deadly. Usually, successful penetration with this shell can lead to a single-shot knock-out on a vehicle. It lacks a bit of penetration for the rank this vehicle sits at, but it's great for flanking shots. The M304 APCR shot gives the vehicle the ability to penetrate thick armour (provided it is a flat surface). This means you need to target crew positions or modules and aim at (almost) vertical armour. Against a Tiger II (H), this means aiming for the turret right side if he is looking directly at you on the gunner side. At that position, you can penetrate up to a distance of 1,800 m.
Although you are moderately armoured for your class, most enemies can easily destroy you at this rank if you expose your tank too much. To reduce direct impacts in frontal engagements angle the Pershing, the V-shape frontal armour can deflect some shots. Your lower glacis is a weak spot, keep it hidden from the enemy.
One downside to the Pershing is the engine: the power-to-weight ratio is poor and does not allow for very quick manoeuvring. It uses the same Ford GAF that can be found in the late series M4 Medium tanks, with nearly 8 tons more weight. Being slightly underpowered, the M26 has a hard time climbing hills. You will need to know the maps and areas you are operating in and use them wisely.
Urban maps (Poland, Eastern Europe, Hürtgen Forest, Cologne) are perfect for ambushing, use your moderate speed to catch off-guard heavier enemy tanks. Drop arty in front of suspected enemy positions if you need to cross a street and relocate, the smoke screen will cover you.
If you've been able to flank an enemy, your first shot is decisive. Always shoot to disable the gun first (gunner or breech). The best ammo to do this is M304 APCR round, or M82 APCBC shell. M304 will guarantee a 100% successful shot, M82 can also work very good and might deal heavy damage inside the turret. But some Germans have tracks on the hull's sides and if the enemy is in the process of turning the turret, the M82 could bounce. Make sure you not to miss. The large sides of German heavy tanks are tempting targets but its very easy to punch through without dealing damage with the wrong ammo like the T33 or M304 rounds. If you flanked a turretless tank destroyer like a Jagdpanther or a Ferdinand, just aim at the engine and you will have virtually destroyed it.
- Arcade Battles
In arcade battles, it is much harder to flank and ambush enemy tanks because of the tag system (player name). However, the tank is still very playable and you can do different tactics depending on the situation. For urban environments, it's best to move with the team and only poke your head out when you have a good shot and the enemy tank isn't aimed at you. In open terrain, you will still be able to use the hills to your advantage and side-shot / pot-shot enemy tanks. The main rule here is don't show your sides and stay low.
- Realistic/Simulator Battles
In realistic and simulator battles, The M26 shouldn't be in the toughest part of the match facing very heavily armoured enemies. It's better to stay behind front lines supporting or try a flanking manoeuvre, you can't be spotted in the mini-map. The high battle rating means you can be up-tiered and fight Cold War era tanks in simulator mode. The compression and matchmaking can put you into situations where enemies are especially hard to penetrate, even from the sides.
Pros and cons
- Side armour is adequate enough for angling tactics
- Low profile, excels at a hull down position
- Good high speed handling
- Fast reverse speed
- Good top armour; resisting aircraft gun strafes
- Very fast turret rotation
- The M82 shot has a high chance of knocking out most tanks in one shot
- Top-mounted .50 cal machine gun is useful against aircraft and open-topped or lightly-armoured vehicles
- M304 APCR round has high penetration power
- Armour is slightly inadequate for its battle rating
- Lower glacis and hull machine gun are weak spots
- Rarely able to reach its top speed
- Slow acceleration
- Sluggish handling at low speed
- 90 mm gun has a long reload time
- 90 mm gun struggles to penetrate better-armoured foes
The development of this tank can be traced to the number of tank prototypes produced in the Spring of 1942 as a replacement for the M4 Shermans then in use. One of these prototypes was the T20 medium tank, which was more heavily armoured than the Sherman. This eventually developed to the T22 and T23 designs with different transmissions, all of which were in the rear of the vehicle instead of the front like the Shermans. These designs were comparable to a T-34-85, but these were not quickly adopted over the M4 as the M4 performed fabulously in combat in Africa and Italy.
Development continued with different interests in 1944, starting around the concept to mount a 90 mm cannon to fight the heavily armoured German tanks and fortifications in Europe. The first was the T25 series, which was an up-gunned T23 with a 90 mm gun, but they also designed a bigger and more armoured design T26. The design held the 90 mm cannon and a front armour thickness of 102 mm thick and sloped. However, the design has a weight of about 40 tons, which decreased its mobility and durability as it still uses the old Sherman engine. Though starting with an electric drive, the design proved too complicated for field use and was replaced by a torqmatic transmission in the T26E1. The designs were eventually finalized as the T26E3, which would be the production version of the T26E1. Production started in November 1944, with 10 being produced by the end of the month, 30 by December, 70 in January 1945, and 132 by February. It would take a few months for even the T26E3s built in November to get to Europe, hence why the first models did not appear in Europe until January 1945. The T26E3 would be adopted by the US Army as the Heavy Tank M26 Pershing with a total of 2,212 units produced.
The reasons why the M26 Pershing was delayed since its time as the T20 series brought much controversy. Today it is agreed that the reasons why the Pershings did not get into combat faster were the combination of the Tank Destroyer Doctrine, logistics, and complacency. The TD doctrine dictated that tank destroyers were the primary anti-tank force while the armoured forces were a support and exploitation force, so tank firepower against other tanks was not prioritized, leading to much opposition when Ordnance attempts to develop heavy tanks with the 90 mm cannons. Logistics for supplying a battlefield more than 3,000 miles away from the factories would prove more difficult if the M26 Pershing and its ammo must be supplied as well when the more common Sherman could be easily supplied. Complacency in the Army Ground Forces brought by the overwhelming performance of the Sherman in the opening stages of World War II set the belief that the M4 and their 75/76 mm cannons would be adequate in future combat, which resulted in it becoming outgunned by newer and better German tanks.
The deployment of the M26 Pershings (still called T26E3s at the time as they are not formally adopted) in Europe was made under the Zebra Mission headed by General Barnes. The Zebra Mission was a form of combat evaluation of the M26 tanks in Europe. In January 1945, the shipment of M26 tanks deployed in December 1944 arrived at Antwerp with only 20 tanks. The tanks first arrived at Paris in February 1945 with General Barnes and a few high-ranking officers from the Tank Automotive Command, Army Ground Forces, and Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Two civilians also arrived from Fisher Tank Arsenal and Aberdeen Proving Ground, the latter an expert on the 90 mm guns. These men helped expedite the training and equipping of the 20 M26 tanks into the units. General Eisenhower assigned the M26 in the 12th Army Group under General Omar Bradley, who sent them to First Army and split them among the 3rd and 9th Armored Divisions. The officers and the new tank crew members spend the period from 11 February to the 23rd training in the new tanks for familiarization.
The M26 tanks underwent their first combat mission on February 25th. 3rd Armored Division attacked across the Roer River, with the 9th following three days later. On the 26th, the first M26 Pershing knocked out in combat was reported at Elsdorf. The Pershing named "Fireball" in F Company, 33rd Armored regiment was penetrated by a German Tiger I tank through the gun mantlet; this killed the gunner and loader instantly. After firing two more shots that damaged the components of "Fireball", the Tiger itself tried to reverse away from the position and disabled itself on debris. The captured loader of the Tiger crew confirmed the kill, as well as photographic evidence. "Fireball" was sent back for repairs and was ready for action again on March 7th. On the same day of "Fireball's" loss, an M26 in E Company at Eldsorf managed to destroy a Tiger I and two Panzer IVs. The Tiger I was hit approximately 900 m out with an HVAP round, with a second T33 AP shot causing a catastrophic explosion, the two Panzer IVs were also knocked out with the AP rounds. The same crew killed another Panzer IV as they drove towards Cologne. Another Pershing was disabled on March 1st by artillery fire, killing the tank commander Sergeant Kay and causing massive damage to components of the M26, forcing it back to be repaired for several weeks. Other Pershing breakdowns include engine failures and components breaking, but these were all fixed easily in a few days.
Around March 6th, a Pershing led by a Captain Gray was ambushed by a Nashorn that penetrated the front armour at a range of 300 m. The crew all survived, but their Pershing became the only one of the original 20 that arrived to not make it through the war. The same day in Cologne, a Pershing from E Company, 32nd Armored Regiment headed by Sergeant Earley destroyed a Panther tank in front of the Cologne Cathedral, which was famously captured on film by Jim Bates from Signal Corps. Around the same time, a Pershing from D Company destroyed a Tiger I with two AP rounds, and another Pershing from G Company took out a Panzer IV with three M82 APCBC rounds. Other resistance faced at Cologne and the approach to the Rhine River were emplaced anti-aircraft guns, but the high explosive payload in the 90 mm proved very effective in destroying them. A platoon of five Pershings led by Lt. Grimball in March 7th and 8th assisted in the taking of the Ludendorff Bridge in the Battle of Remagen. The bridge was damaged during the battle, but was still intact, though the M26 Pershings were unable to cross it compared to the M4 Shermans and tank destroyers due to their heavier weight and width, an indication on how the M26 Pershings are not logistically sound in Europe's infrastructure. It would not be until March 12th when ferries are made available to transport the Pershings across the Rhine. In March 25th, additional shipping of M26s arrived at Europe, a total of 40 tanks, 22 going to 2nd Armored Division and 18 going to the 5th. Additional Pershings came in from then until the end of the war on VE Day at 8 May 1945; by that time, a total of 310 Pershings have made it to Europe, 200 in combat units, and only the first 20 ever seeing action against the enemy.
The end of the war in Europe shifted attention to the Pacific Theater, where the Battle of Okinawa was still underway. The increasing US armoured losses due to the Japanese 47 mm anti-tank guns and the demands for a better tank by US tankers caused Ordnance to send a mission similar to the Zebra Mission to reinforce the US troops at Okinawa. The ship carrying the Pershings left on May 31st and was expected to reach Okinawa at June 30th, but constant stops due to transport priorities caused the tanks to arrive July 21st, at which point hostilities ended a month ago. Nevertheless, the Pershings were still unloaded via landing crafts tanks (LCT) on July 30th. Only 4 of the 12 Pershings were unloaded before the rest was diverted to Naha due to typhoon warnings. The Pershings on Okinawa were to be allocated to the 193rd and 711th Tank Battalion with familiarization starting on August 10th. However, training stopped when Japan surrendered on August 15th, 1945, ending the Pershing's combat life during World War II.
Post World War II
After World War II, the M26 Pershing was reclassified as the Medium Tank M26 Pershing to fill the army's tank needs, but its specifications were not satisfactory for the role of it due to low mobility and heavyweight. Despite that, the M26 Pershings became urgently needed when the North Korea People's Army suddenly attack South Korea, armed with the Soviet-supplied T-34-85s. South Korea and the US Forces stationed there had no armour except the M24 light tank and no adequate anti-tank weaponry to fight off the T-34 onslaught. A search for any suitable armour commenced in Japan and the US Army was able to procure three M26 Pershings at Ordnance storage. Though in a poor state, they were quickly refurbished and landed in Korea on 16 July 1950, the only medium tanks available in Korea. These three tanks moved to the front line on July 28 and fought with North Korean forces on the 31st, but were lost when the engines overheated due to lack of fan belts.
Following this event, more medium tanks were sent from the United States to Korea, mainly the 6th, 70th, and 73rd Tank Battalions armed with M4A3 Shermans, Pershings, and M46 Pattons. The 8072nd Tank Battalion from Japan was also sent, redesignated the 89th when it arrived to Korea. All the Tank Battalions arrive at Korea around August 8th. The first combat mission with the Pershings in this group was at the north of Taegu, a location known as the "Bowling Alley". It was here that the Pershings faced off against three T-34-85s and managed to destroy them. The M26 proved to be more than a match against the T-34-85s as it could penetrate through the T-34-85 front and back when using HVAP ammo, while the T-34-85 couldn't even penetrate the front of the Pershing. After November 1950, the lack of enemy tanks and the mechanical deficiency the Pershing has compared to the Shermans caused many of them to be shipped back to the states in 1951 and were replaced by the improved M46 Patton tanks, which were upgraded M26 Pershings made to be more reliable. The Patton series of tanks would basically be based off the M26 Pershing's design.
The M26 served its last few years in the American occupation zone in Europe and were supplied to America's Allies during the Cold War. Belgium received 426 units of this tank, and France and Italy received Pershings as well, though later replaced by the M47 Pattons.
The M26 Pershing heavy tank was a development of the T26, in turn one of the M6's prototype descendants. Its story began in 1942, when U.S. Army Ordnance received the go-ahead to begin working on the M20 medium tank. It did not turn out to be particularly successful, though it boasted potential for modernization.
In 1943 and 1944 several T22 and T23 prototypes and experimental models were built. However, their weapon calibre had fallen behind current requirements and in 1944 priorities shifted to a program developing T25 and T26 tanks with 90 mm cannons. The T26 appeared to be the more promising option. It was equipped with a Torquematic hydraulic transmission, torsion bar suspension, and cast hull, while its significantly increased weight and sized resulted in a move to the heavy tank category.
At the beginning of 1945 several pre-production T26E3 models were released, 20 of which were sent to Europe for combat trials. Tankers reported that the T26E3 was a match for the Pz.V and Pz.VI, even somewhat outperforming them in manoeuvrability. One 1945 battle saw a T26E3 taking out two Pz.IV medium tanks and one Pz.VI heavy tank.
By the summer of 1945 the T26E3 was officially accepted as the M26 Pershing, with a total of 2,222 produced. The M26 did not have a chance to fully prove itself, though it was shown to be a capable weapon against heavy armour.
The M26 really only saw combat during the Korean War in 1950-1953, where it was up against Soviet T-34s and 85s. The American heavy tanks outgunned the T-34 and were better armoured, though they were much less manoeuvrable and reliable. The M26's running gear had much more trouble in the mountainous conditions as opposed to its experience in Europe, and it had practically no advantages over Soviet medium tanks in close combat.
- Other vehicles of similar configuration and role
- [Vehicle Profile] M26 Pershing [Decal Included]
- [Vehicle Profile] M26 Pershing: A Medium Heavy Tank
- [Wikipedia] M26 Pershing
- [Tanks Encyclopedia] Medium/Heavy Tank M26 Pershing
- [Military Factory] M26 Pershing
- Hunnicutt, R.P. Pershing: A History of the Medium Tank T20 Series U.S.A.: Feist Publications, 1971
- Zaloga Steven. T-34-85 vs M26 Pershing: Korea 1950 Great Britain: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2010
|USA medium tanks|
|M3||M3 Lee · ▃Grant I|
|M4||M4 · Calliope · M4A1 · M4A1 (76) W · M4A2 · M4A2 (76) W · M4A3 (105) · M4A3 (76) W|
|M26 Pershing||T20 · T25 · M26 · M26 T99 · M26E1|
|M46/47/48 Patton||M46 · M46 "Tiger" · M47 · M48A1 · T54E1|
|M60||M60 · M60A1 (AOS) · M60A1 RISE (P) · M60A2 · M60A3 TTS|
|MBT-70||MBT-70 · XM-803|
|M1 Abrams||XM-1 (Chrysler) · XM-1 (GM) · M1 Abrams · IPM1 · M1A1 · M1A1 HC · M1A2 Abrams · M1A2 SEP|
|Israel||▃Magach 3 (ERA) · ▃Merkava Mk.1 · ▃Merkava Mk.2B · ▃Merkava Mk.3D|