ARM - Book Review - M26 Pershing by David Doyle

Book Review: Squadron/Signal Walk Around Color Series No. 5706; M26
Pershing by David Doyle; Squadron/Signal Publications, Carrollton, TX,
2008; 80 pp. with photos, illustrations and color drawings; retail
price US $18.95; ISBN 978-0-89747566-2
Advantages: crisp, clear photos of several M26 tanks and variants with
great emphasis on clear details
Disadvantages: very little information on service markings or accurate
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Pershing fans
Squadron/Signal began their =93walk-around=94 series for aircraft
modelers, apparently in an attempt to counter the very popular =93Detail
and Scale=94 series of books (which ironically they now own as well).
The books, all of about 80 pages in length, focused on one specific
subject with a few pages devoted to other variants or versions of the
primary subject. They have since branched out into armored vehicles of
which this is the sixth entry in the series.
The M26 Pershing underwent a long and tortuous route to life,
starting as the T22 and T23 prototypes which essentially were a
redesign of the M4 Sherman with an emphasis on better layout, better
protection and reduced height. From that they evolved into the
=93medium=94 T25 design and the =93heavy=94 T26. Both of those tanks were
nearly identical to the casual observer, the main difference being in
weight and armament. Eventually the T26 won out as a =93heavy=94 tank
(e.g. weighing about 45 short tons; a =93medium=94 was classed at the time
as about 25-30 and a =93light=94 as 10-15 tons) with a 90mm main gun, 4"
armor basis on the glacis and torsion bar suspension with rear mounted
transmission and drive system.
The developed variant, the T26E3, was sent to Germany in 1945 as part
of the =93Zebra Mission=94 which allocated ten tanks each to the 2nd and
3rd Armored Divisions. Later, more tanks arrived in Belgium but were
only just starting to be allocated to other armored divisions when the
war ended. As such, the T26E3 became the standard new postwar tank,
standardized as the M26 Pershing Heavy Tank and later reclassified as
a Medium Tank. One other variant, the T26E4 mounting a very high
performance 90mm gun with separate loading ammunition, did see service
in Germany with the 3rd Armored Division as a =93King Tiger Killer=94 but
saw little combat before being scrapped.
David Doyle is a well-known expert on preserved vehicles and the
history of American armor, and this is his second book for Squadron/
Signal in this series (the other being No. 5705, the M42 Duster). He
has combined photos from his own collection and that of other well-
known armor fans (Chris =93Toadman=94 Hughes being most prevalent here) in
the now standard =93Walk Around=94 format. The book provides nearly 200
clear, sharp photos of the M26 Pershing tank inside and out with some
photos of M26A1 and T26E4 tanks as well. (The only variant missing
here is the M45 105mm howitzer tank, but I personally know of no
preserved examples of that tank.)
Mr Doyle starts at the front of the tank with the glacis and drivers=92
compartment, showing all of the variations known on blowers, hatches
and viewers, and then proceeds back along first the left side and then
the right. He shows what is inside each of the six large fender
stowage bins (great for modelers doing dioramas) as well as the engine
compartment and its internal fittings and layouts. Mr Doyle also
covers the tracks and running gear, showing the three different tracks
fitted (T80E1, T84E1 and T81) as well as the turret details.
Later he also shows some photos of the preserved T26E4 production
model tank at the Cantigny Museum in Illinois, with coverage of the
massive 90mm gun and the modifications made to the turret to carry
such a gun. (Modelers must note the T26E4 used by the 3rd Armored has
little in common with this =93production=94 model.)
There are also some scattered color drawings and side views
throughout the book, but they are not of much use as they do not cover
service markings for the Pershing. The back cover has a nicely done
painting by Don Greer of one of the post-Zebra Mission Pershings at
the Remagen Bridge, with the shipping data prominent, but even bumper
codes are not provided for the ones shown in the artwork.
Overall, with two good kits in 1/35 scale, new ones coming out in
1/72 and the huge 1/16 scale kit from Tamiya, this is a very good
reference for building a highly detailed Pershing in either WWII or
Korea. But the modeler will have to look elsewhere for finishing
Cookie Sewell
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