A History of the Medium Tank T20 Series
By R. P. Hunnicutt
This comprehensive entry in R. P. Hunnicutt’s 10-volume compendium of American tank history details the development of the T20 series of American tank prototypes ending with the standardized M26 Pershing. Although M4 Medium Tank Sherman proved itself by contributing mightily to U.S. Armored divisions in WWII, it was eventually outclassed by some later German armored vehicles. Furthermore, due to its prewar development, the Sherman was designed using components developed on a shoestring budget. In an effort to address these shortcomings and to take advantage of lessons learned on the battlefield, a program was launched in the spring of 1942 to develop an improved tank. This program resulted in the T20 series of tanks, which included a number of experimental prototypes that capitalized on advances made in engineering in the years since the design of the Sherman.
True to form, Hunnicutt spares no detail in his blow-by-blow history of the T20 series. The original T20 concept was expansive, beginning with investigations into a wide range of power trains, armaments, and suspensions. Hunnicutt carefully details each of the prototypes produced over the three years of development. Each experimental tank is illustrated with photographs and figures. The T20 series concluded with the deployment of the T26E3 “General Pershing” in the closing months of the European War. A number of Pershing tanks played a dramatic role in the 9th Armored Division’s struggle to take the Ludendorff Bridge at the Battle of Remagen. After this baptism by fire, the Pershing was standardized as the M26 in late March, 1945.
The Pershing tank served as the Army’s first line tank during the immediate postwar period and played a major part in the first year of the Korean War, although it revealed itself to be poorly suited for use on Korea’s muddy and hilly terrain.
With detailed diagrams and photographs, along with an extensive collection of reference data, Hunnicutt’s Pershing is absolute must-have for anyone with a keen interest in American military history.
About the Author
Richard Pearce Hunnicutt (1926-2011) enlisted in the 7th Infantry Division in 1944 and in 1945 was promoted to sergeant and awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions. After WWII, Hunnicutt earned a Masters in engineering from Stanford University under the GI Bill. In addition to being one of the most respected metallurgists in California, Hunnicutt wrote the definitive 10-volume history of the development and employment of American armored vehicles. As a tank historian and leading expert in the field, Hunnicutt was one of the founders of the US Army Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD and was a close friend and frequent contributor to the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, KY.