U.S. T26E3 Pershing Heavy Tank of the Zebra Mission E.T.O. (Germany) 1945.

by Shane Black

Accurately portraying the Tamiya kit to represent  a vehicle of the Zebra mission.

The kit.

Tamiya's M26 Pershing (kit no. 254) is an excellent representation of this pivotal vehicle of U.S. tank design. Indeed the instruction sheet gives an excellent overview of the evolution of the American tank starting with a drawing of the Sherman M4A3E8 and onto th M26 and through to the M48 and M60 series and eventually to today's M1 Abrams.

To accurately represent  the original service variant  of the beast some slight alterations will have to be done. The kit has been manufactured as a kind of hybrid displaying both WW2 and postwar modifications. But it also has been made in such a way as to allow the modeller to make the necessary changes without too much difficulty to ensure you end up with an appropriate and accurate model.

The kit itself is of the usual magnificent Tamiya standard with crisp mouldings and some unique and novel features such as a complete working suspension. I won't actually delve to far into the construction of the kit as this has been done in Tamiya Modelling Magazine, Military Minatures in Review and AFV Modeller to name but a few. So what I will concentrate on are the corrections needed to give the modeler a correct T26E3, (the original designation for this vehicle as it was rushed into combat as quickly as possible due to the imbalance in quality of Allied armour as opposed to Germany's Tiger's and Panther's let alone her anti tank weapons.)

The essential changes to the kit are simple. In order of the instruction sequence: The final drives need the four gusset-shaped brackets carved off the drive assemblies, these are actually an October 1945 modification made when it was found that the assemblies were shaking loose ((1) page 22) A small oil filler was added to each drive  approximately half-way on the drive and about 1.5 mm in from the edge. This was fabricated from Evergreen 30 thou styrene rod shaved to about a 60 degree angle. Casting numbers were then added from a sheet of Slater's 1mm numbers and alphabet set. The whole assembly was then coated and stipled with Mr Surfacer 500 to add a slight cast effect.

Sorry to diverge at this moment but I would like to be more specific on the dimensions but my research was based on photos and text in the following books:

  1. Osprey/New Vanguard no.35 M26/M46 Pershing Tank by Steve Zaloga
  2. Allied-Axis no.7 Pershing at the Front (amongst others)
  3. Squadron/Signal no.40 Pershing/Patton in Action, by Jim Mesko,
  4. Museum Ordnance Special no.3
  5. Steve Zaloga's article on the Dragon T26E3 in Military Modelling magazine Vol. 30 no.17 July 2000.

So some of the placement of items such as the oil fillers were measured with the Mk.1 eyeball and not with a ruler. I have as yet to see a Pershing or any member of the Patton series in the flesh, so I have many good things as yet to look forward to.

Anyway back to the kit, items such as the tail-light guards were replaced during construction with items from the Eduard photo-etch set no. 35 503 and on the rear plate these include the brackets for mounting the tow cable and details for the towing hitch. I may add that the mount for the field telephone Tamiya parts F39 and H32 and Eduard 33 should not be included for the WW2 version. I would like to say that in hindsight I probably wouldn't use the p.e. items for the tail-light guards as they seem quite large and were difficult to shape accurately so next time I'll probably just thin down the kit parts.

Moving to the front of the vehicle, I used the p.e. replacement for the .30 barrel in the hull mount although other alternatives would work as well(Karaya etc.) Tamiya has taken an unusual approach to the headlights by moulding them hollow and then offering parts A14 to represent the lenses. I guess it saves having to drill them out and then replacing them with aftermarket items. Be careful using the Eduard headlight guards as they show them shaped the wrong way with a long "arm" leading back to the glacis plate. This is incorrect as the "arm" just folds back to the light mount F4(4) page 12 & (3) pages 31&35)Fine wire was used to represent the power lead for the hull gunner's headlight. The driver's basically goes into the fender and is not visible. A periscope was added to the driver's hatch as I wanted it open Eduard provides these but they are difficult to shape properly so I used a Verlinden item.

The latches for the fender stowage boxes are simply moulded blobs on the kit so I replaced them with Tiger Designs resin items 353005. The fender mounting brackets are separate items on the kit but I used the Eduard replacements because they are naturally thinner this meant some filler was required to hide the gaps left by the mounting slots for the Tamiya items. Most of this is hidden when the stowage boxes are mounted but I feel better for doing it!

The finished model can be seen in the Gallery - Webmaster