This is a German armored combat vehicle comparison chart (“Panzerkampfwagen Vergleich”), released in 1945. Here, we can see a distinct lineup of various vehicles side by side, starting from Deutschland / Germany, England-U.S.A. / Allied, and Russland / Russia. Light tank on the left, medium tanks in the middle, and heavy tank on the right, pretty conventional.
At first glance, there appears to be nothing out of ordinary with this chart. But soon you will notice a rather unusual vehicle at the end of the Allied tank lineup. Instead of exhibiting the combat-proven British Churchill Infantry Tank, the chart instead draws upon the design of an American T1 Heavy Tank, peculiarly nicknamed “Dreadnought”.
We can draw some conclusions based on this evidence:
The Germans were well aware of the existence of US heavy tank development since the beginning, particularly with the T1. This is based on the silhouette design. Taking shape on one of the earliest prototypes armed with commander’s cupola .30 cal machine gun and internally-mounted anti-aircraft .50 cal machine gun facing rearward. The prototype would most likely be the T1E2.
They expected to see combat against the T1 on the battlefield at some point. It was even designated as “M1”, denoting M for “Model”, a designation used by the US Army for inventories that have been approved for production. In reality, the tank never left the US soil due to transportation issues and general objection by the Army Ground Forces from using heavy tanks.
How they acquired data of the US heavy tank was rather straightforward, contrary to expectations. The T1/M6 saw frequent use by the US Army as a parade and propaganda tool in major US cities during the Second World War. The main purpose of it was to display the might of the US Armored Forces to general public, despite never entering combat at any capacity, and gaining support from war bonds in return. It would be no surprise if German Spies could easily obtain sufficient data on this behemoth of a tank.
However, the data they obtained were quite outdated (and also slightly incorrect), especially by this time and year. The tank’s final form for production was notably different from its prototype form, including omission of the redundant commander’s cupola machine gun and rear-facing anti-air machine gun. The production designation wouldn’t be M1. Instead, it would be called as M6.
“Dreadnought” was never an official name given by the US. It was the German who nicknamed it, hence the peculiarity.
Special thanks to Whelmy for providing this valuable information.
The T29 and T32 represented a divergence in the American heavy tank design after the development of T26 series heavy tank. The T29 with its large turret mounting the 105 mm gun, and the T32 with its ludicrously armored frontal protection are some of the main key distinctions between them. While the U.S. Armored Division would culminate their final heavy tank for service with the T26E3 Pershing for the rest of World War II, their development on even heavier versions did not end there.
Committed to developing the US heavy tanks even further, four new heavy tank projects were laid out as a response from the Army Ground Forces to modify the Pershing tank with heavier firepower and/or heavier protection. Two of those only required modifications on the T26 hull with no need to build an entirely new design. One was armed with a high velocity derivative of the Pershing’s 90 mm gun, known as the T26E4, and the other was reinforced with thicker armor casting at the front for increased protection, known as the T26E5. The remaining two had higher design requirements to fulfill that simply altering the main hull of Pershing simply wouldn’t be possible. Enter the T29 and T32 heavy tank.
The T29 sported a new high velocity 105 mm gun, something unheard of in the US tank armor development before. Such a large caliber cannon was not without a purpose, as it allowed the T29 to perform multi-purpose mission of destroying heavily armored fortification, while also engaging contemporary heavy tanks of the time on an equal footing, befitting for its role as a true heavy tank. However, the original T26E1 turret was simply not capable of mounting this rather cumbersome gun, and as such, a new turret design was urgently needed, a gigantic one.
A new power pack was provided to give enough propulsion for the T29, as its design and configuration bloated the tank’s combat weight by up to 22 tonnes from the Pershing, and only 4 tonnes lighter than the Tiger II, which proved to be a major liability in terms of logistics and transportation. However, its 105 mm was greatly appreciated for what it brought to the table, and was almost approved for mass production with a contract of 1200 units to participate in a cancelled plan for a full-scale invasion of Mainland Japan. It then continued endurance and engineering trials at home and was tested with various high caliber guns, resulting in two more variants to be developed, known as the T30 (155 mm), and the T34 (120 mm).
The T32, on the other hand, put more emphasis on being an impregnable mobile fortress from the front. The frontal armor consisted of a cast hull with 127 mm armor set at 54° and a cast turret with 298 mm of armor on the mantlet, which would give sufficient effective armor to deflect the most powerful AP shots of the time. The T32 would take a role as an assault tank, in the same lineage as the M4A3E2 Jumbo assault tank: Break through enemy defenses and exploit its heavily armored front to withstand enemy gunfires.
While this tank’s armor was loosely similar in term of armor construction as the T26E5, experiences from the M4A3E2’s combat in Ardennes demanded a more powerful engine to allow the assault tank to keep up with the spearheading forces. Therefore, an upgraded power pack consisting of a V12 engine and a cross-drive transmission was produced. That would mean a new, lengthened hull was preferred instead of retaining the original Pershing hull, which would leave not much room to install the new engine and transmission. Though, unlike the T29, the T32 had a more tolerable combat weight at 54 tonnes, just short of 3 tonnes than the Tiger I. However, the T32 was only partially finished by the end of the war, and only produced in limited number, generating one last variant with all-rolled front hull armor instead of cast, designated as the T32E1.
The T32 unfortunately was met with a development dead end, as the Pershing-based hull was quickly getting phased out by the Army, in favor of a relatively novel tank design in the 50’s. The 90 mm high velocity cannon was considered inadequate in combating the prevalent Soviet armor as well. Instead, the large caliber gun development from the T29 series finally found its usefulness when the T34, with its 120 mm T53 cannon, was improved even further, paving way into the development and production of the M103 Gun Tank.
War Thunder has just released a devblog for the upcoming Battle Pass vehicle: The M6A2E1 Heavy Tank.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.