by: Stefan Halter [ ]
Originally published on:
The T26E4 Super Pershing was a prototype tank fitted with a T15E1 high velocity 90mm gun of 70 calibres, capable of a muzzle velocity of 3850 ft/sec (compared to 3281 ft/sec of the 88mm KwK 43 of the King Tiger). To counter the weight of the much longer gun, a counterweight was added to the back of the turret and hydraulic counter balance cylinders in front of the commander’s cupola were to ease aiming of the gun. As the Super Pershing was a conversion based on the T26E1 Prototype, there were some other differences – most notably the round two piece loader’s hatch with MG mount – that will be pointed out further along. Only two were produced and one of these was sent to 3rd Armored Division in Germany in February 1945 as part of the Zebra Mission.
As the T26/M26 armor was insufficient to go against Panthers and Tigers, a decision was made to up-armor the Super Pershing. The job was given to Lt. Belton Y. Cooper who added spaced frontal armor to the hull from 1 ½ inch boiler plate. The gun mantlet was up-armored with a piece cut from a knocked out Panther’s front glacis. This added weight to the front of the gun mount, had to be compensated with additional armor attached to the side of the mantlet and extending towards the side of the turret like elephant ears. All the up-armoring added seven tons to the vehicle and made the tank sit lower on the front end.
The Super Pershing saw only limited combat action, apparently claiming three panzers. In a training exercise, the gun was fired at a damaged Jagdpanzer IV at 1.5 miles and the round passed right through the frontal armor, the final drive differential shaft, the engine and out the back armor to dig itself deep into the dirt.
In 2002, Accurate Armour followed Tamiya’s release of the M26 Pershing with their conversion for the Super Pershing. The parts come packaged in the standard sturdy box of Accurate Armour. Inside you will find 31 cleanly cast resin parts, a turned aluminium barrel, two pieces of brass rod for the different handles and a fret with 11 photo etch parts. A small decal sheet provides the only markings carried, these being the unit markings on the front glacis. Accurate Armour labels this a “US Army Tank Hunter”, which technically it was for all its intent and purpose, but within the US Army it was considered a tank, not a tank destroyer.
The resin parts have the usual casting block to clean and no air bubbles or warping are present on my example. The largest part is a complete replacement turret with hatches and counterweight included in one casting. One very small part (“spring cover mount”) was damaged but should be easy enough to repair. One of the PE-parts was bent.
The Instructions consist of two sheets of A4 paper with a parts list, some written instructions, a plan of the Tamiya upper hull with instructions on the trimming of the fenders and some very clear B&W photos.
Although the kit is designed to fit the Tamiya kit, test fitting to the Dragon M26 showed no major problems and this should well be possible.
Hull Modifications and Parts:
Some changes are needed to the Tamiya upper hull, most of them due to the fact that the Super Pershing was based on the Prototype T26E1. The first step called out for in the instructions is the trimming of the mudguards of the Tamiya upper hull as the first version of the T26E1 had narrower tracks. This shouldn’t prove too hard as all the lines are easy to find. The braces for the mudguards (Tamiya parts H9-12 and A11/12) need to be trimmed as well as per the Accurate Armour instructions. Parts H9 and H10 should also be triangular according to reference pictures. There are other changes needed for a truly accurate Super Pershing that Accurate Armour failed to point out in the instructions. One of these is the use of a different style of rear doors over the engine with indentations for the handles. Another is the different gun travel lock which was longer and had an X-shaped brace.
The main parts provided for the hull are the armor plates, two for the upper half of the glacis and one for the lower. These fit snugly in between the track guards with the lights relocated to the track guards. However to find out what the exact angle of these plates is, was quite difficult and even if I think I have it figured out, I am still not quite sure. Though the instructions don’t mention it, parts F31 and F33 of the Tamiya kit (lifting lugs) have to be left off or at least trimmed for the upper armor plate to fit. Some good reference photos are of invaluable help here.
The rest of the hull goes together as per the Tamiya instructions with some Accurate Armour parts added like stowage racks in PE to the front plate and the back of the track guards, PE brush guards for the lights and horn and resin track guard tensioners on each corner of the vehicle. Due to the added weight the tank sat noticeably lower on the front end. The instructions state that with the working suspension of the Tamiya kit this happens automatically, but also provides instructions on the necessary modifications of the kit if one chooses to glue the suspension in place (or use the Dragon kit).
Most of the parts for this conversion are for the turret. A completely new hollow turret is provided with the correct counterweight at the back, one piece commander’s hatch and two piece loader’s hatch moulded in one piece. Moulding is excellent with only a bit of flash to remove in the holes of the lifting lugs and the hatches. Unfortunately, there is no attachment to the hull provided and it is just supposed to be set on top of the turret ring. But it should be easy enough to fabricate some sort of attachment similar to the Tamiya one from plastic card. The hatch doors themselves are provided separately with periscope guards to be added from the Tamiya kit and the handles from the brass rod provided. There is no replacement M2 .50 cal. MG, but some parts for the barrel changing handle are provided in PE. Extra track links are provided for the turret sides.
Moving on to the gun, this is an excellent turned aluminium barrel with the muzzle break added from the Tamiya kit. The gun mantlet is also provided in resin with the various attachment points for the hydraulic counter balance cylinders included. Once fitted, the gun is no longer movable. The barrel fit to the mantlet is excellent and the extra armor from the Panther fits snugly over the barrel (before adding the muzzle break!). The “elephant ears” are fitted to the Panther armor but need an attachment to the gun mantlet as well with plastic rod for example. The hydraulic counter balance cylinders are provided in resin and are covered with a PE part for armor protection.
Painting and Markings:
Not many options here as with any one off vehicle. Reference photos show that black camouflage was sprayed over the olive drab in the usual fashion. Markings were scarce with only unit markings on the front glacis and apparently no Stars anywhere.
This is an excellent conversion for a model of a totally different Pershing. Some care has to be taken as with any resin kit and further improvements are possible where Accurate Armour missed a few extra bits of the T26E1 prototype.
The following references were used for this review:
•Osprey Now Vanguard, “M26 / M46 Pershing Tank 1943-1953”, by Steven J. Zaloga, Tony Brian and Jim Laurier.
•“Death Traps” by Belton Y Cooper (a very informative read about recovery, repair and evacuation of battle damaged tanks, also includes a detailed account of the uparmoring of the Super Pershing).
•Military Modelling Vol. 35 No. 4 p. 18 – 25, “Super Pershing!” by Steven J. Zaloga.
•Pershing – A History Of The Medium Tank T29 Series, by R.P. Hunnicutt (although this was not used for the review, it can not be missed in any biography of the M26 Pershing)