Heavy Tank T30

The Heavy Tank T30 was developed in response to the appearance of heavier German tanks in 1943-44, and was armed with a 155mm gun.

The Tiger I had first been encountered by American forces fighting in Tunisia early in 1943, and clearly outclassed all existing US tanks. Even the upcoming M26 Pershing would only just be able to cope. In 1944 the Ordnance Department began work on new heavy tank designs (the first since the failed Heavy Tank M6/ T1). On 14 September 1944 four pilot heavy tanks were approved, split between two Heavy Tank T29s (105mm gun) and two Heavy Tank T30s (155mm T7 gun). The two models would be almost identical apart from their guns and associated components.

T30 used a number of components from the M26 Pershing. It had wider versions of the 23in T80E1 tracks used on the M26. It has eight road wheels on each side (the lighter Pershing had six). The hull was produced from of mix of cast and rolled sections, welded together, as on the M26. Frontal armour was 4in thick.

At first the plan was to use the same liquid cooled Force GAC V-2 engine in the T29 and T30, but in 1945 it was decided to use an air cooled Continental V-12 engine in the T30. The Continental engine became the standard American tank engine in the decade after the war. The chance of engine meant that the engine compartment had to be modified, but otherwise the T30 had the same hull as the T29. This was a fairly simple design, with a sloped front, and a level roof, almost level with the top of the tracks.

The T30 used a similar turret to the T29. This had a massive bustle, with the tank commander sitting at the back, under a central cupola. There was also a gunner and two loaders. The rest of the crew were in the front of the hull.  

The T30 carried a 155mm gun T7 and coaxial .50in machine gun in a combination gun mount T124. This was a lower velocity gun than the 105mm gun in the T29, but could fire a more powerful high explosive shell. The gun used separated ammo, with 50lb cased propellant charge. A spring rammer was included in the turret to help push the heavy ammo into the gun.

The heavy ammo and large gun caused a number of problems, with one of the most significant being that it could only be loaded in a limited range of elevations, which meant that the gun couldn't always be kept on its target. In July 1947 one T30 was chosen for tests with an automatic rammer, automatic cartridge ejection system and an automatic system to record and return the gun to its firing position before and after loading. This became the T30E1 and the new mount the T124E1.

In April 1945 the T30 was classified as limited procurement. At least one T30 chassis was later used as the basis for the Heavy Tank T34, which was armed with a 120mm gun and became the prototype of the post-war Heavy Tank M103.

At least three T30s still survive, one at Fort Jackson, one at Fort Knox and one at Aberdeen. This clearly suggests that more than the original two were eventually ordered, and as at least one was used as the basis of one of the T30s, at least four pilots must have been ordered at some point.

Hull Length: 25ft
Hull Width: 12.5ft
Height: 10ft 7in
Crew: 6
Combat Weight: 144,500lb
Engine: 810hp Continental Engine
Max Speed: 22mph
Max Range: 100 miles cruising range on roads
Armament: One T7 155mm gun and one coaxial .50in MG in turret, one .50in AA gun on turret, one .30in MG in bow






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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 March 2017), Heavy Tank T30 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_heavy_tank_T30.html

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