M26 Pershing: Medium or Heavy? (Plus other stuff)

Recently I’ve run across a small little debate about what exactly was the M26 Pershing? Was it a heavy tank or a medium tank?

This is a tricky question as it was technically both. That answer, even though correct, can be made more define. From what I’ve read, the M26 was a medium tank more than it was a heavy. On June 29th, 1944 the US Ordnance, who wanted a heavy tank to boost morale, redesignated the T26(M26)s as a heavy tank. Before this the T26 was a de facto medium tank that was developed from the T20 series of medium tanks. From June 29th, ’44 to the end of WWII the M26 kept its title as a heavy. After WWII the M26 was once again designated as a medium tank.

During WWII the M26 could do pretty much anything the IS-2 or Tiger could do. It is directly comparable to both heavies. This argument falls short when you throw in the Centurion, Panther, and T-44 into the discussion as they are also directly comparable to the M26. The M26 was developed to be able to do heavy tank things, but it was also built to do the job of a medium tank. During its service with the US Army it was primarily used in the medium tank role, doing medium tank things. It was very much a medium tank in practice even if it was called a heavy during the war. An exception to this is the USMC Heavy Tank Battalions which shoehorned in the M26 until they received M103s.

So the M26 was built as a medium tank(that could still do heavy tank things), was used as a medium tank, and was called a medium tank before and after its stint as a heavy. Later variants of the M26, such as the M46 & M47 are labeled as medium tanks. So I am confident calling the M26 a medium tank and not a heavy tank.

Another M26 “myth” is that Gen. Patton was the reason the M26 wasn’t fielded earlier(according to some they mean M26s by D-Day). To put it shortly, Gen. Patton had no real influence on tank development or tank deployment. Lt. Gen McNair and other higher ups in the US Army Ground Forces higher ups were the ones who opposed and delayed the T26 project. The reason behind them doing so is that the M4 was doing its jobs adequately and building a new tank design and all the other logistics is just not worth it. Gen. Devers and others, who favored the T26, eventually got their way with the T26 project. Even if there was no objection to the T26, it is very unlikely you would have large amounts of ready M26s by June 1944. The T26 just didn’t advance far enough in development in late 1943 to be ready by mid ’44 in any numbers.

I might as well point out that in WoT the M26 Pershing is missing its 500 hp Ford GAF(which is weaker than the stock engine). The 90 mm T15E2M2 gun is also unhistorical as it didn’t exist. The T15E2M2 could easily be replaced with the 90 mm T54 gun which should have the same ballistic performance, if not slightly better. Another hypothetical is to combine the M26 and M46 into one tier 8 tank, might save that for later though.

M26 fitted with the 90 mm T54 gun.


Hunnicutt’s Pershing, Zaloga’s M26/M46 Pershing Tank & The_Chieftain’s posts about the M26 being used as a medium except in the USMC.



30 thoughts on “M26 Pershing: Medium or Heavy? (Plus other stuff)

    • Even so, not known by everyone, relevant to current ongoing discussions & an interesting read none the less.

    • Every once in a while one reads a comment from that zmeul guy and immediately imagines what an unpleasant person he must be irl….

    • everything is old and quasi known to someone, how about you make your own webpage and post only new stuff that no one knows about..

  1. The T15 was used on the Super Pershing and T32 (both based on the M26). The downside of this gun is the two-piece ammo. I was under the impression that the T54 wouldn’t quite have the ballistics, but close with reload times closer to the M3.

      • What would you stick at tier 9 then? Moving the M48 down a tier and removing the M68 might work but that leaves the tier 10 spot empty and since the M60 is already ingame as a reward tank I don’t see a suitable replacement other than one of the T95 versions, which I imagine WG is saving for a different branch.
        While reading Hunnicutts Abrams on page 72 I noticed that there was apparently a M48A2 mounted with a T95 turret. Do you have any more info on this particular vehicle?

        • M48 at tier 9, M60A1 at tier 10. Alternatively, an actual M47 (rather than the M46E1) at tier 9, keep M48 where it is.

  2. M26 and M46 have almost the same hull anyway. Would be awesome if at tier 9 we had the M47 though.

    • The turret would be the exact same as it is now on the M46 and the gun would probably be the same too. The main difference between the M46 and M47 hulls is that the M47′s has a slightly better shape and that’s about it. The effective armour on the hull wouldn’t have any significant change so I don’t see the point in introducing it at tier 9.

      • Leave the M48 at tier 10, combine the M26/M46, and put the M47 at tier 9. Consdering all M46s were just rebuilt M26s, this would be much more logical. And the M47 hull is already in game, its the Bat Chat 155 55s hull. All they gotta do is swap the models, rebalance some stats and bam.

      • It would have the effective armour of a Type 59 and would also be able to increase the top speed. The M47 will be a decent improvement over the M46.

  3. It was technically a medium tank but they called it heavy for morale reasons.

    Thats what I heard anyway, could be total bollocks.

  4. Yeah, but were the “morale reasons”? Was it “yay, a heavy tanks!” Or “we don’t want people to compare this to the Sherman and as where this was the last year or so”?

  5. the m26 pershing was a “heavy” tank during ww2 and was the only american tank at the time capable of taking on and defeating the german tiger tank-Due to thier late appearance in the war very few saw action but the First “Heavy” Tank dual between a pershing and a tiger was at himmelsdorf in 1945

  6. From what I’ve read (and that very well might be wrong :) US tanks were classified into categories according to their armament instead of armor/weight, thus the M26 being a heavy because of the 90 mm.

    And as has been written, after WWII it has been reclassified as a medium due to various reasons.

    • IIRC the US started doing that a few years after the war. So it is applicable for the M26′s later service, but doesn’t mean anything about the M26′s intimidate postwar status.

    • The more you read into it, the more you realize that “MBT” is mostly an empty term. The Czech LT vz. 38 was pretty MBTish. The Panther was an MBT in terms of its weight class. Light tanks still complement modern MBTs, and best of all, the Abrams and Leopard II, plus possibly other tanks, had no anti-infantry ammunition even developed for them until post-2000.

      • This is further broken down when you realize that there is now a pressing need for tanks that fall into the medium tank category, or essentially air deployable in large numbers with heavy tank armament, usually in the 20-35t weight class. Light tanks of today could be considered the IFV and ICV, while heavies end up being the primary battle tank.

        Lights, mediums, and heavies never really disappeared, they just took on new or expanded roles.

    • MBT just means Main Battle Tank.
      This just means that it is the primary tank used in war for said nation.
      The M1 Abrams is an MBT because it is about the only real tank that is used by the Americans.

  7. As to the article, changes to the primary American medium line should be done as M26/46 -> M48A1 -> M60A1. M48A1 hull was experimented on as the T54 series of tanks, it’d be fairly easy to give the M48A1 the T54 turret with T140E2 gun and call it a day, while still having the T54E2 in the tech tree prior to the T95E6.

    This also fits better in with WGs recent historical binge, as all tanks can be properly represented at each tier without ahistorical armament just to make them work, as the M47 at T9 wouldn’t solve this issue.

    I wouldn’t put the M47 in the American tech tree, in that despite being built by Americans for the US Army, it saw more usage by allied nations due to the speedy replacement with the M48.

    There can be multiple ways the M47 can make it into the game at T8, 9 or 10, either the French, Spanish, German or Israeli M47 would work best in this way.

    • The M47 Patton can be easily put in the game when they finally finish the Hull Upgrade feature.
      Since the M46 Patton in game already has the M47′s gun and turret choices.

  8. Real-life Pershing also lacked neutral steering.

    The ingame Pershing is a clusterfuck of T26E3 T26E4 and M46. It’s probably one of the most a-historical vehicles in the game.

    That’s one reason I’d like to see the US line changed so much. Especially the medium tree. It’s just so hodge-podged that it’s ridiculous.