Heavy Tank M45 (T26E2)

The Heavy Tank M45 was a howitzer armed version of the M26 Pershing tank, originally developed as the T26E2.

Work on a Sherman armed with a 105mm howitzer began in the summer of 1943 as part of the medium tank M4 series (ultimate design). Seven new models of M4 were planned, including two armed with the 105mm howitzer, although only the Medium Tank M4A3 (105mm Howitzer)/ Sherman IVB was actually built. Eventually over 3,000 were built.

When attention moved on to the next generation of medium tanks work also began on producing a 105mm howitzer version. The original plan was to install the gun in the Medium Tank T23, but this wasn't a very successful design, and in June 1944 work moved onto mounting the same weapon on the Medium Tank T26E1. The new model was designated as the T26E2. The idea was to use it in the HQ companies of T26E3 tank battalions. The first pilot turret was built at the Fisher Tank Arsenal, and was installed on a sstandard chassis.

The T26E2 got a redesigned turret. The 105mm howitzer was lighter than the Pershing's normal 90mm gun, and so the gun shield was increased to 8in thickness (from 4.5in) and the turret front armour to 5in, to make up for the reduced weight of the gun. The ammunition storage had to be modified to take the larger shells, and up to 74 could be carried. The howitzer mount was stabilized in elevation, and could move between +35 and -10 degrees. The turret had hydraulic and manual traverse mechanisms.

The T26E2 had a fairly low priority. The first pilot was delivered in July 1945, and in the same month it was designated as a 'limited procurement' type. After service tests it became the Heavy Tank M45. Large scale production had been planned, but after the end of the war these were abandoned, and only 185 were completed. The M45 saw combat during the Korean War, where it served in the headquarters units of tank battalions. The 6th Tank Battalion used its M45s in the fighting the Pusan Perimeter in the summer of 1950, and in the breakout from Pusan after the Inchon landings. The 6th Tank Battalion was probably the only unit to use the M45 in combat.

Production: 185
Hull Length: 8.65m
Hull Width: 3.51m
Height: 2.78m
Weight: 93,000lb
Engine: 450-500hp Ford GAF engine
Armament: 105mm howitzer






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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 March 2017), Heavy Tank M45 (T26E2) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_heavy_tank_M45.html

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