War Thunder’s M6A2E1: The First Paper Tank in the US Ground Forces

War Thunder has just released a devblog for the upcoming Battle Pass vehicle: The M6A2E1 Heavy Tank.
The first U.S. paper tank in War Thunder: The M6A2E1
M6A2E1 will be the first paper tank available for the US Ground Forces Tech Tree as an event vehicle. While there were two existing M6A2E1 (M6A2E1-1 & M6A2E1-2), this tank won’t be either of them. It’s caused by the additional slab of rolled armor in front of the M6A2’s main hull. The armor setup was a part of the uparmoring project to allow the deployment of M6A2E1 to the Europe Theater of Operation by increasing the effectiveness of frontal armor by up to 7.5″ (190.5 mm). However, it was rejected, simply because of how nigh impractical it would be. And so, the two aforementioned pilot vehicles were never welded with the addon armor, and retained their original hull armor thickness of 4″ (101.6 mm).
The second pilot M6A2E1-2. Notice the lack of welded addon armor on the front hull, and bolted on machine gun port.

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The Largest APCR Projectile on a Tank Gun: T35E1 HVAP

This was the largest APCR projectile to be developed for a tank gun in WWII. Designated as Shot, H.V.A.P., 155MM, T35E1, or just simply called as T35E1
The 155 mm T35E1 HVAP, and 90 mm M304 for scale.
Grown out of the concern from encountering enemy heavily armored tanks, the U.S. Army Ground Forces was pressed to develop a necessary anti-tank munition for their latest heavy tank in development, the T29 and T30. These tanks were intended to support allied forces with combined heavy armor and heavy firepower to defeat the most well-fortified enemy positions with different roles. The T29 would be used to combat other tanks with its 105 mm gun, and the T30 would be relegated for anti-fortification with its 155 mm gun. Leaving the T29 aside since it was was built to confront hostile armor anyway, the T30 was stuck with no self-defense munition to hit back should it come across opponents like King Tiger or Jagdtiger.

T122 Variable 4-8x Power Telescope – Standardization as M83 for US Tanks

It appears that the Armored and the Tank Destroyer Boards were already approving the T122 variable power telescopic sight for standardization for use in their armored vehicles, now designated as the M83 at the behest of Army Ground Forces in June 1945.
T122 Variable Power Telescopic Sight in 1944.
You might notice that this telescope was only ever described in gun technical manuals and vehicle technical manuals shortly after the end of WWII, leading to a belief that this sight was only developed postwar. Some of the most notable tanks to use this sight were the M46, M47, and M48 Pattons. However, it has been confirmed that this sight did indeed exist for a while now, with the earliest development beginning as early as March 1944.
Reticle sight of the M83C.
It is a variable telescope with a magnification range from 4x – 8x. This variation is obtained by turning a knurled head by which one can obtain any power between 4 and 8. The true field of view varies from 14°27′ at 4x to 7°36′ at 8x.
The vehicles to receive the telescope are sorted by priority, as follows:
(i) 90 mm Gun Motor Carriage M36 Series
(ii) Heavy Tank M26
(iii) Medium Tank M4 (76 mm) Series
(iv) Light Tank M24
Standardization of T122 as M83 Variable Power Telescope.
All classes of US late war armor from tank destroyers to light tanks were in transition to equip this new variable power telescope, in addition to retaining their then-current telescopic sights as backups, mostly M71 and M76. Heavy tanks and tank destroyers would use the M83C type, medium tanks the M83D type, and light tanks the M83F type.
Also, the T26E5 and M26E1 were also being diverted from using M71C to M83C midway through their development as well. Though this change was not reported in the standardization plan, since these tanks were still prototypes.

U.S. Army Ground Forces’ 150-ton Superheavy Tank

While proven to be much of a liability instead of a tactically useful asset, there is no denying that there existed a superheavy tank craze even during the WWII era, as displayed by each warring state attempting to develop their own version of such a humongous vehicle. Maus (188t), O-I (150t), FCM F1 (139t), KV-5 (100t), TOG II* (81t) were easily among the list of well-known superheavy tank designs throughout the war, some never even left the drawing board. The Canadians at one point were also considering building a superheavy tank with 4 inch naval gun turrets (courtesy of Whelmy). Speak for the obsession of gigantism.
Now, before you come over to piss me off that I missed out the T28/T95 from the US side, I did in fact recognize the 86-tonne bonker that has just recently been preserved and is now residing inside NACM’s tank house comfortably. But did you know that the T28/T95 wasn’t the only superheavy tank project that the US had come up with? Most people will most likely be familiar with the T28/T95 as the US’s sole superheavy tank project in their entire history, but are not aware of another type of superheavy tank thought up by the Army Ground Forces (AGF) during the last phase of WWII.
The U.S. Army Ground Forces’ 150-ton Superheavy Tank.
An artist’s drawing of the AGF 150-ton Superheavy Tank.

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T26E4 Heavy Tank with T32 Turret

The T26E4 was a heavy tank armed with a high velocity gun to counter the firepower of the latest German heavy panzers. With the T26E3 Pershing ongoing for serial production, the Ordnance Department had authorized a diversion of 25 T26E3s from their original configuration to mount the latest anti-tank gun in development, the 90 mm T15 L/73 high velocity gun. The first temporary pilot of the vehicle, designated as Heavy Tank T26E4-1 “Super Pershing” was sent into combat in April 1945. Using the earlier T26E1 hull, extensive modifications to its fire control was required due to the turret being originally designed to mount the shorter 90 mm M3 L/53 cannon only.

Temporary pilot T26E4, displaying two massive equilibrator springs to elevate the long-barreled 90 mm T15E2 gun.

A 90 mm T15E1 with single piece ammunition was hastily installed on the first temporary pilot T26E4-1. Because the gun proved to be too heavy for the tank’s size, the hull was heavily modified, requiring two large equilibrator springs mounted externally on top of the turret to control elevation of the gun. To balance the extremely heavy barrel on the front, a large counterweight was welded at the rear of the turret. Other modifications involved the installation of heavier elevation gear, turret traveling and turret ring locks, and the gun cradle. The second temporary pilot T26E4-2 retained all the modifications of the first temporary pilot, but had now used the hull of the T26E3 instead, and mounted a 90 mm T15E2 with separate piece ammunition.

As the T26 turret wasn’t clearly designed to adapt the 90 mm T15 gun, additional modifications were authorized for a proper production T26E4 by incorporating a hydropneumatic equilibrator mounted internally within the turret to replace the external spring equilibrator and rearranged ammo racks. This production version would later be applied to the remaining 23 T26E4s. However, as many modifications as there could be, the T26E4 turret remained the same as the T26E3 turret by design. It still couldn’t wield such a long-barreled cannon effectively without some reliability issues.

Production pilot T26E4, mounting the 90 mm T15E2 gun with an internally mounted hydropneumatic equilibrator.

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Patton’s Field Modified M4A3(75)W w/ 76 mm M1

On the subject of mounting the 76 mm M1 L/53 into the original M4 turret, a question pops up:
“If the original M4 turret was used to test an even longer 76 mm T1 L/57, why didn’t tank crews in the field attempt to replace their Sherman’s 75 mm with surplus 76 mm guns, considering it worked anyway?”
Well… They did.
3rd Army Ordnance’s modified M4A3(75)W w/ 76 mm M1.

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Standardized, Never Entered Service: 3-inch Gun Motor Carriage M9

The US Tank Destroyer doctrine was well renowned for its use of turreted self-propelled guns, designated as “Gun Motor Carriage” by the U.S. nomenclature in World War II. The intended role for this anti-tank vehicle design was to quickly adapt to the rapidly mobile battlefield, as well as to intercept, defend, and secure strategic locations against the enemy armored forces. A turret could provide an effective and immediate response against threats from more than just a single direction… even if some vehicles did not totally fit into that description (see the M10 TD and M8 GMC and their manually-traversed turret).

M9 Gun Motor Carriage at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, March 1942.

But such a design choice did not deter the U.S. Army Ordnance’s attempt to go on a venture and experiment with building turretless gun motor carriages. Most of them usually ended up as no more than just a single-working prototype to demonstrate their performance in trials. However, few of them made their way into a working interim solution until a proper turreted vehicle could roll out into production. Such an anti-tank vehicle was to be armed with an ancient 3-inch (76.2 mm) anti-air gun on top of a modified M3 Medium Tank chassis. Enter the 3-inch Gun Motor Carriage M9.

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