U.S.Medium Tank
M26 Pershing

1:48 Scale - Kit No.32537
Review by Terry Ashley

Tamiya released their 1:35 kit of the M26 Pershing (kit #35254) back in 2002 which was actually the T26E3 as first deployed to NW Europe in early 1945 and this new kit in 1:48 scale is based closely on that kit having the same features of T81 track, no fender turnbuckles and initial style barrel travel lock.

Like its larger brother there are some minor detail issues that have made the trip to this new scale which we will get to below but overall the shrinking process has resulted in a nice model of the T26E3.

The kit has 170 parts in olive drag plastic plus the obligatory cast metal lower hull tub, a couple of screws and poly caps and the decal sheet with the quality of the moulding being very good overall with clean crisp detail and no flash evident, but there are a few shallow pin marks about the place to contend with.

Dimensionally the kit measures up very well in overall length, width, turret size and barrel length as well as the size of the muzzle brake when compared to the data in the Hunnicutt Pershing book with any discrepancies being well within acceptable tolerances.

Lower Hull:
As mentioned this is the usual cast metal tub which is devoid of any underside details and has large plastic side panels which include the axles moulded in place as well as a separate rear panel with only the lower front plate left visible of the metal tub.


The side panels include all the suspension components of axles, shock absorbers, bump stops and return roller mountings and being moulded with the panel means they lack any undercut detail which isn’t really that noticeable after the wheels and track are fitted and also nine shallow pin marks along the panel which again are not that noticeable after assembly and you may choose not to worry about these.

The first suspension arm incorporates the idler and station one road wheel axles in a separate part as is the two part final drive housings that include the underside brackets and these fit neatly in place although the front axle fit was a little loose so make sure the station one wheel hub lines up with the other fixed axles.

The road wheels are in two halves with nice hub and bolt details for the scale but obviously don’t have the contours around the outside of the rims which would be impossible to include with injection moulding in any case. The return rollers are again in two halves with nicely represented hub details and all these wheels simply glue to the axle stubs and mountings.

At the back are the drive sprockets made up of four parts each that include the two inner discs and the lightening holes added to the outer tooth disc. These are quite nicely done and give a good representation of the holes but are only on the outer disc and should also be added to the inner wheel disc to be truly accurate. There are small poly caps trapped inside the drive sprocket making it easy to slip this onto the final drive axle stubs but to be really picky the drive sprocket teeth are a little on the sharp side and should be slightly more rounded in appearance.

The rear panel continues Tamiya’s love affair with engraved weld seams but you can easily use stretched sprue or other material to add the raised welds if you wish and added to the panel is the central mounted towing hitch and two side tow hooks as well as the cast exhaust outlet at the top. This is nicely contoured but lacks any surface texture or foundry cast numbers and includes the early style barrel travel lock that is attached to the sides of the exhaust.

This was changed later to be mounted directly to the rear hull and this feature indicates you can only make an early M26E3 from the kit. Also added to the rear plate is a nicely moulded tow cable that includes the mounting brackets and the two side mounted tail lights are included with the rear panel moulding which fits neatly to the rear of the metal tub.

Also included is the rear mounted interphone box but this was not fitted to the initial Pershings sent to Germany only being fitted later so it’s best to leave this off for this model.

As mentioned you get a set of moulded link and length T81 single pin steel tracks which have respectable link details but there are quite a few pin marks on the insides which aren’t really noticeable after assembly so you may choose to leave these as is.

The track is broken down with long sections for the top and bottom runs with shorter lengths for between the road wheel, idler and drive sprockets and short two link sections for around the idler and drive sprockets. Take note here as there is a different part that goes under the last road wheel on each side, part A21 on the left and part A12 on the right which is to cater for the slightly different track angle here due to the offset torsion bars, so take note not to put the wrong part on the wrong side or you may have problems joining the track runs.

By assembling the sections around the idler and drive sprockets separate and allowing to dry and then fitting to the assembled suspension made the job quite easy and I had no problems fitting the tracks.

Just a quick note; to use the later double pin T80E1 steel or rubber chevron track would require different drive sprockets than those used with the T81 track and you can’t just throw on a set of T80E1 tracks to make a later Pershing.


Upper Hull:
This is one large moulding that includes the full fenders with separate front crew hatches and forward engine deck hatches, these allow you to screw the upper and lower hull parts together but the fit of the two was very good if you just wanted to glue these together like a conventional kit?

The front crew hatches have very good detail as well as some pin marks on the inside but the hull openings are not fully hollowed out which isn’t a problem if fitting the hatches closed but if you wanted to add a drive you would have to cut out the openings.

Detail on the hull is nicely done with crisp grill work and very subtle cast texture on the engine deck and on the glacis contours which includes the central curved bulge for the early 400cfm blower but this has the two side intake ports on either side. For the early blower there should only be one intake port on either side with the later 1000cfm blower having the two intake ports but this is probably not a big issue as it would be difficult to correct.

The later blower was also thicker at the front with a flat profile instead of the curved as with the kit which further indicates you can only build the early M26E3 from the kit.

There are also the two periscopes located either side of the blower bulge which again is an early feature with these being deleted from later M26s as well as having a plug welded in place on earlier models as this was identified as weak spot allowing deflections from the mantlet to enter the hull.

Most early Pershings used in WWII still had these periscopes but you will have to add bush guards from thin wire as well as to the hatch periscopes as they were nearly always fitted.

Again there are no foundry casting numbers on the hull and added to the front are the co-axial .30 cal machine gun barrel which could do with being drilled out for a better appearance plus the head lights with separate bush guards which again could do with being thinned down as they are a little on the thick side.

The lifting eyes are added front and back with the fit of the engine deck doors being very good and added to the fenders are the storage boxes moulded in one single piece for each side as well as the side skirts which will have to be left off until the track is fitted.

As mentioned the front and rear fender support turnbuckles are not included in the kit which again limits the time period for the model to WWII as these were fitted to all later M26 and M26A1 Pershings and would be tricky to make convincingly in this smaller scale.

This is in two basic parts, the upper shell and lower turret ring with the join line being in the same position as the seams on the real turret so you shouldn’t eliminate this completely and there is subtle cast texture on the turret surface but again no foundry cast numbers which are all over the place on Pershings.

The Commander’s cupola is moulded with the turret shell and unfortunately the detail is very basic on the cupola as a consequence with no detail around the pericopes and large holes where the screw heads should be making for a strange appearance and you may want to fill these so they are not so deep. I can see the inevitable etched sets including the screw heads to fill these holes (hint) as that would improve the detail no end.

Both the Commander’s and Loader’s hatches are separate with basic detail on the inside as well as small pin marks but the grab handles are moulded solid as are the springs on the Loader’s and could do with some attention to improve the appearance.

On the left side is a separate shell ejection port which includes the bullet splash guard but this is a little oversized but probably not that noticeable on the finished model and there is a shallow pin mark in the middle of the port to contend with but you can’t show this port open without some major work to separate the hinge and open up the side of the turret.

Also added to the left side are huge locating ridges for the spare track mountings which basically means you have to add the spare track, which most tanks had anyway. There are also the mountings for the track connecting tool and brackets for the hoisting device intended to lift the power train, these brackets were fitted to early Pershings but were removed and blanked off with square plates on later vehicles.

The large mantlet is in one piece and nicely shaped but again there are no casting numbers which are a prominent feature of the M26 mantlets and the barrel is in one piece with just a separate part for one side of the large muzzle brake meaning there is just a minor moulding seam to be sanded smooth with the barrel fitting neatly into the mantlet neck.

The turret front plate has the large screw head detail along the top and the inner mounting is held in place with poly caps allowing the gun to elevate after assembly and everything fitted together without any problems.

One thing missing is the partial mantlet dust cover fitted between the turret and rear of the mantlet which was fitted to all M26E3s used in NW Europe in WWII and it would be quite a job to add this.

Added to the turret are the lifting eyes, the large right side storage rack, aerial mount and the roof mounted .50 cal machine gun which is a fairly basic representation of the real thing.

The small decal sheet is typical Tamiya with well printed markings but slightly thick carrier film and provides markings for three Pershings, two from WWII and one from Korea although you will need to add the fender turnbuckles and attend to some other details to model this version correctly.

The Sprues
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Overall this is nice representation of the M26E3 with only a few detail issues to contend but can really only be built as a WWII vehicle from the kit with some modifications required to build a Korea era vehicle.

But another easy to build kit that will please Allied fans no end and will build into a nice looking Pershing with too much bother.

Highly recommended

Pershing: A History of the Medium Tank T20 Series
Presidio Press
Richard P. Hunnicutt
The M26 Pershing and Variants
T26E3/M26, M26A1, M45, M46/M46A1
Schiffer Military History Book
Troy D. Thiel ISBN 0-7643-1544-7
M26 Pershing Medium Tank
Museum Ordnance Special Number 3
G.Ronald Lehman
Darlington Productions, Inc.
M26/M46 Pershing Tank 1943-1953
Osprey New Vanguard 35
Steven J. Zaloga
ISBN 1 84176 202 4
The Photo Journal of the Second World War No.7

Ampersand Publishing.
Allied & Axis
Pershing/Patton in Action
Squadron/Signal books #2040
Jim Mesko and Don Greer.
ISBN 0-89747-442-2

Thanks to my credit card and the excellent service fromRainbow Tenfor the review kit.

Page created October 31, 2006

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