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Tamiya 1/35 scale M26 Pershing U.S. medium tank (T26E3)

Kit: No. 35254
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Tamiya, distributed by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, 800-826-4922,
Price: $44
Comments: Injection-molded, 318 parts (38 vinyl, 13 screws and springs)
Pros: Excellent detail and fit, working suspension, good vinyl track
Cons: No interior, no mantlet cover

The M26 Pershing was the tank the U.S. Army needed in World War II to fight the German Panther and Tiger tanks. Due to lack of understanding of the technological advances by the Germans and Soviets, as well as political disagreements within the Army chain of command, the M26 almost missed the war, finally being deployed in early 1945 as the T26. After a short combat career in which it fared quite well, its service ended with the Korean War. The M26 was a significant vehicle, as it was the basis for the Army's M47, M48, and M60 medium tanks of the 1950s through the '70s.

Tamiya's M26 is an all-new kit, sharply molded in flash-free olive drab plastic. The kit provides a semi-working and positionable suspension, along with two crew figures and food and ammo boxes. It includes the early-style T81 track, appropriate for the T26E3 as deployed in Europe during combat trials.

The first six assembly steps cover the lower hull, suspension, and wheels. The suspension construction makes extensive use of polly caps, metal screws, and springs. The suspension arms are separate parts and can be positioned in a non-working state by pushing them into their locating holes and engaging small pegs in the hull. The arms are held into the hull by polly caps; I found no need to use glue. The two-piece bogie wheels also use polly caps and are added to the suspension arms by simply pushing them into place. The lower hull is completed by installing the rear hull plate.

Building the upper hull went quickly. The hull machine gun assembly is designed to be movable - a nice feature. Some of the minor surface details, such as the stowage box handles, are molded on. The engine grilles are separate parts and have detail on the inside. The crew hatches are separate parts so they can be positioned open if desired. Strangely, the headlights have separate lenses but they are molded in olive drab plastic. I replaced the lenses with drops of Microscale Kristal Keer. I installed the exterior phone box per the instructions but could not find photos of its use on the early T26E3.

The turret's main components fit well, but there is a seam between the top and bottom that needs to be eliminated. Since the turret has a rough cast texture, I had to hide the seam by treating it with several coats of liquid cement, then roughing it up with a metal brush between applications. The M3 90mm gun barrel and muzzle brake are accurately captured. The prominent casting numbers on the mantlet and the typical canvas mantlet cover are not provided.

Both turret hatches can be positioned open, but there is no gun breech or interior detail in the turret or hull.

I added the vinyl tracks as one of the last assembly steps. They're well-molded, quite flexible, and can be glued together with liquid cement. After adding the tracks, I installed the sand shields that I had prepainted and decaled.

I painted my Pershing with Polly Scale paints. Decals are provided for four vehicles - three from World War II and one from the Korean War. Mine went down well over a gloss coat with help from some decal setting solution.

Tamiya's Pershing matches the dimensions and photos in my main reference, R.P. Hunnicutt's Pershing: A History of the Medium Tank T20 Series. That book has some excellent photos of "Fireball," the tank featured in the kit.

I completed my Pershing in just 18 hours, and the outcome is a convincing replica. Excellent detail and high-quality molding are hallmarks of this M26 kit. Other than the complexities of the working suspension, modelers of all levels should enjoy this new Pershing.


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