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Schiffer Pub. Legends of Warfare - M26 Pershing, America’s Medium/Heavy Tank in WWII and Korea

ISBN Number:
978-0-7643-6640-6
Published:
Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Publisher:
Schiffer Publishing
Retail Price:
$24.99 USD
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire

Schiffer Publishing

Legends of Warfare

M26 Pershing

America’s Medium/Heavy Tank in WWII and Korea

Schiffer Publishing’s Legends of Warfare series is noteworthy for its wide range of subjects; aerial, naval and ground combat are all well represented in this line. Previous books that I’ve examined from the Legends of Warfare series all share similar format, physical characteristics and quality of content. Some recent titles in this series authored by David Doyle have added well done subject matter drawings and color renderings, nice additions to the content.

The subject of this book is the M26 Pershing tank, one of the Second World War’s most effective tanks, but one that had such a lengthy developmental process that it almost missed the war entirely. There was intense conflict within the US Army as to whether or not heavier armor was required, with the commander of Army Ground Forces Gen. Lesley McNair opposing heavier tanks citing supply issues and a doctrine more in favor of lighter weight tank destroyer forces. After a protracted struggle involving those opposing McNair’s point of view, General George Marshall overruled McNair in December 1943, and the T26 (which would later become the M26 Pershing) project moved ahead. Full production of the T26 series finally began in November, 1944.

Among other improvements, the T26 benefitted from a drive train change and new engine giving it a lower profile than the Sherman tanks, and had a 90mm gun which roughly equaled the powerful 88mm tank guns used by the Germans.

Arriving in the ETO in January of 1945, the Pershings participated in a limited number of combat engagements but acquitted itself well. Roughly 300 Pershing’s made it to Europe before VE Day. Smaller numbers were deployed in the Pacific prior to VJ Day, with no significant combat noted. Post-WWII, the M26 served with several allied nations such as France, Belgium and Italy. The early period of the Korean Conflict saw much use of the Pershing tank there, primarily against Russian made T-34-85 tanks, with good results.

Perhaps most importantly, the M26 Pershing evolved into the Patton series of tanks which culminated in the M60 series, variants of which are still serving various nations to this very day.

Vital Statistics

Format - hardcover, square format

 Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper,  144 pages

 Size - 9.25" x 9.25"

Photos - almost 300 period black and white as well as contemporary full color images

Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - tables of technical and performance data, component drawings, full color renderings, scale profiles

All text and photo captions are in English

 

What's in the Book?

Above - the book’s table of contents, laid out in a chronological manner

The book’s six page Introduction provides excellent information on the needs for a heavier tank than the Sherman series, and contains several pages of photos of evolutionary steps that led to the Pershing tanks. This Introduction also also contains a couple of tables of technical and performance information on the Pershings.

Above - a book by this author wouldn’t be complete without interesting looks at the factory floors where the subjects of his books were produced. This is a fascinating look at Shermans and T26 tanks side by side on a production line.

An interesting and useful addition to the authors books in this series are detailed line drawings and full color renderings of paint and markings schemes. These are nice additions to the informative text and photographs.

This volume integrates these drawings and renderings seamlessly alongside the historical photographs and text. The above left color renderings are of a Pershing that was knocked out by a Tiger tank.

The quality of the historical vintage photos is generally quite good, with details easily viewed. The author provides a good deal of informations in his photo captioning. Areas of special interest are also pointed out where applicable. 

Photo sizes range from quarter page size to full page size, with quite a few of the vintage photos being full page size.

Chapter 3 of this volume, “The Pershing Up Close”, provides the reader with 30+ pages of full color images of preserved / restored Pershing’s, interior and exterior views. Above, some exterior images.

Above - there are several pages of crystal clear looks at the interior of a Pershing turret interior. These images are well described in the informative photo captions.

Above - Chapter 4 of this volume discusses Pershing variants, including the famed “Super Pershing”, armed with a long barreled 90mm gun. One of a kind, this tank only saw one combat action, knocking out a Panther tank at 1500 yards. 

The book’s final chapter covers the use of the Pershing tank in the Korean conflict, where the vast majority of tank combat took place in 1950, prior to the bloody stalemate that eventually developed. Most of the combat involved Soviet made T-34-85 tanks and Pershings. The statistics of these tank engagements tell the tale; in 38 tank vs tank actions, 6 Pershings were knocked out compared to at least 97 T-35-85’s.  That’s a 16-1 ratio, pretty convincing.

This chapter on Korean action is jammed full of great in-action style images, showing Pershings in a wide range of actions and activities on the Korean Peninsula. 

Conclusions

The Pershing laid the groundwork for the American tank family that took the US into the Cold War and beyond. This book does a great job of outlining the problems encountered early in the developmental process, and follows up well with the evolution of the T26/M26, and it’s use in combat.

The images contained in this volume (vintage and contemporary) are well chosen for quality and interest. The drawings and full color paint and markings renderings are a nice addition. The authors text and photo captioning is complete, concise, and quite informative, well up to the author’s usual high standards. This volume is a bit lengthier than most in this Legends of Warfare series, clocking in at 144 pages.

This book is a very complete look at the Pershing tank, and is well deserving of a spot in your reference book case.

Highly Recommended!

Thanks to David Doyle Books for the review copy

Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland

AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region

 

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