Heavy Tank T32

The Heavy Tank T32 was an attempt to quickly produce a heavy tank based on the T26E3 version of the Pershing, and was the first of several contemporary designs for heavy tanks to reach the pilot stage.

During the planning for the D-Day landings the American armoured forces urgently requested more heavily armoured tanks to support the numerous M4 Shermans. An interim solution was found by adding extra armour and producing a new turret to produce the M4A3E2 assault tank ('Jumbo'), which entered limited production in May-June 1944 and was quickly committed to combat. The Jumbo was a great success, and was often used to lead tank columns or assault heavily defended positions and on 7 December 1944 the Army Ground Forces requested the development of a version of the M26 Pershing with extra armour. This was approved by Army Service Forces.

Two different solutions to the problem were tried. The simplest was to produce an M26 version of the 'Jumbo', the T26E5. This had up to 11in of armour on the turret and 6in on the hull front and production of 27 examples began in June 1945.

A more satisfactory solution was to produce a new tank using Pershing components. Production of four pilots of this version was recommended on 8 February 1945, as the Heavy Tank T32 and approved in March 1945. The new design had a high priority, and the mock up and most of the detailed design were almost complete by mid-April.

The T32 used a Ford GAC V-12 engine and a cross drive transmission system, already under development for the Heavy Tank T29. It used as many Pershing components as possible. It used the same torsion bar suspension, although with seven road wheels instead of the six of the Pershing (the T29/ T30/ T34 series used eight road wheels). The same 23in T80E1 tracks were used, but with 5in extended end connectors.

The T32 was armed with a 90mm T15E2 gun, which fired separate ammunition with a long cartridge case. This required a reorganisation of the internal ammo storage. A counterweight had to be added at the rear of the turret to balance the new gun. The turret was otherwise similar to that of the standard Pershing, and was mounted towards the front of the tank.

The front armour was 5in/ 127mm thick, while the turret front armour was 200mm thick.

The first two pilots had cast hull fronts, while the third and four pilots had rolled armour at the front. These were then designated as the T32E1.

The first two pilots were completed on 15 January and 19 April 1946 and the third and fourth on 14 May and 19 June 1946, well ahead of the rival heavy tank projects. The first two went to the Aberdeen Proving Ground, the third to Fort Knox and the fourth to the Detroit Arsenal.

The T32 thus the first tank to be tested with the cross drive transmission. The experimental EX-120 cross drive system suffered from a great many problems, but tests on the T32 and later experimental models eventually led to the development of the more reliable CD-850 cross drive transmission, which was used in a series of later production tanks. 

Hull Length: 426.6in with gun, 278.4in without gun
Hull Width: 148.3in
Height: 110.7in
Crew: 5
Combat loaded Weight: 120,000lb
Engine: 770hp Ford GAC V-12 liquid cooled engine
Max Speed: 22mph (roads)
Max Range: 100 miles road cruising range
Armament: 90mm Gun T15E2 and coaxial .30in MG in turret, .50in AA gun on turret, .30in MG in bow






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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 March 2017), Heavy Tank T32 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_heavy_tank_T32.html

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