M26 (T26E3) Pershing Heavy Tank
M26A1 Pershing Heavy Tank
M46 Patton Heavy Tank

Trumpeter Kit
#7264 M26
#7286 M26A1
#7288 M46

Preview by Stephen Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

A Little Bit Of History For The Modeler
The American M26 tank was the 90-mm gun armed heavy tank that arrived in the Northern European theatre in early 1945 just in time to see action when the Allies entered into Germany. The M26 was comparable and equivalent to the German Tiger 1 tank in gun and capability. Several locations where it saw combat was at the Ludendorff Bridge in Remagen, and at Elsdorf, Germany, where it saw limited combat with Tiger 1 tanks. At Remagen it proved too heavy to cross the damaged bridge. Also shipped to the Pacific Theatre I understand that it did not see combat before Japan surrendered. When shipped to Europe the tank was officially still designated as the T26E3 but finally became standardized as the M26 before VE Day.

This in the box preview will cover Trumpeter’s smallscale M26, as well as their M26A1 and M46 kits which share many of the same kit parts. The M26A1 was an upgrade with the M3A1 gun. The M46 had a new more powerful engine. All three tanks went on to serve in Korea and Cold War Europe.

The Box Art
A good aspect of many of Trumpeter’s kit boxes is that they feature a photograph of the actual assembled and painted model so we get to see what the model looks like, for better or for worse.

Trumpeter’s box art for the M26 kit no. 7264 appears to be a good representation of the M26. This is the variant we would see during WW2. Up on the turret we see the commander’s cupola that resembles that was used on the M4 Sherman. The cupola vision blocks should be painted in gloss dark blue or similar color. Next to the cupola is the 50 cal. machine gun painted olive drab, not the gun metal gray color it should be. On the turret side is a storage rack covering part of the white star. The gun barrel has what I have heard referred to as a German style double-baffle muzzle brake.

On the bow is a bulging ventilator housing between the driver and bow gunner’s (Bog’s) hatches. The fender support and the headlight brush guards look too thick and would be good replaced by brass.

The track is an all metal type, no rubber blocks. Unique for an American tank of 1945 is the rear transmission and sprocket wheel. The torsion bar suspension had been used on the M24 Chaffee and the M18 Hellcat. My assessment is that some mold seams could use scraping off and the turret lifting rings be replaced by copper wire. Unfortunately, all the periscopes are molded closed so this tank would be near blind if depicted in service. The markings are sparse, the M26 would often have vehicle serial, shipping and unit numbers in addition to the white stars.

My reference states that this M26A1 kit no. 7286 was essentially an M26 upgraded with a new 90-mm M3A1 gun with external features of a single-baffle muzzle brake and a bore evacuator, new decal markings, and different track; so essentially this is the port side of the model no. 7264 above. On the left side of the turret we see the round shell ejection port which I have also heard referred to as a pistol port.

Trumpeter M46 kit 7288 sports some drastic changes to the M26 series. Besides being referred to as a “Patton” rather than as a “Pershing” the vehicle has a track tensioning idler wheel, a new engine and new longer engine deck. Notice that on the box, the tank is now referred to as a “medium” tank, no longer as a heavy tank. The turret appears largely the same as the M26A1. The suspension now has a track tension idler arm and wheel, a small return roller located between the last roadwheel and the sprocket wheel. On the glacis is a small open box for a shovel and pick but this model appears to be missing these tools. On the rear of each fender is an exhaust muffler with a raised sheet metal guard. The track appears to be the same all metal track as in the M26A1 model kit.

With the release of this Trumpeter M46 model years ago I anticipated that Trumpeter would release an M47 Patton soon after. The M47 Patton was the next progression and the M47 hull is very similar to the M46. The M47 turret was radically different from the M26 and M46 turret. Alas, at the time I write this there is no M47 Patton tank available in small scale styrene plastic, just in cast resin.

This M26 model kit looks like it can be easily modified into an M45 support tank with the short 105-mm howitzer barrel.

Assembly Instructions
The instructions for all three kits are clear, black & white exploded view type with about 12 steps and include sprue diagrams and black & white drawings of the decal marking placement. Since the kit instructions and kit parts are the same or similar between the three kits, we’ll just have to look at a few representative pages from each kit to get an idea of what Trumpeter gives us.

These two pages from Trumpeter’s M26 kit 7264 show the black & white drawings for painting and the water slide decal markings. The decals are on such light paper that we cannot really see what they look like; they should have used a darker decal paper. These instructions on the decal placement could be better. From the Peddinghaus Decal sheet for the Pershing these markings with the black panther head are identified as for an M26 that served with the 18th Tank Battalion of the US 8th Armored Division, Germany in 1945.

These two pages for M26 kit 7264 show the parts tree and assembly of the wheels and torsion bar suspension. I think it is great that we have separate torsion bar arms so we could potentially articulate the arms (parts A10 & A11) and roadwheels (parts A1, A12) over rough ground. The lower hull here is identical for M26A1 kit 7286.

Above is a set of aftermarket decals for the M26 Pershing from Peddinghaus-Decals I plan on using. Like the Trumpeter decal paper, the background is too light to make out the markings, so I found a photo of a re-release of these decals on darker paper. I suspect other users had the same complaint about the decal paper? No instruction sheet came with the decals, so placement of the markings is not clear.
At lower left is a turned aluminum gun barrel with brass double-baffle muzzle brake from RB Models for the M26 tank. These decals were a generous gift from Doug Chaltry.

I found a photo online of one of the Marine 1st Tank Battalion M26’s at Inchon, Korea, that is included in Peddinghaus-Decals sheet 72 1041. Note that this M26 (likely an M26A1?) has the additional periscope next to the vent dome. All four periscopes have wire brush guards.

Two pages for the M26A1 kit 7286 show the parts diagram and the assembly of the roadwheels and the hard styrene link & length track parts

At left we have the final turret assembly for the M46, kit 7288 which is the same as in the M26A1 model kit. The M26 kit has a different 90-mm gun barrel but otherwise the same turret. At right is the painting and marking diagram and the water slide decals for this kit in the center of this scan. The instructions do not identify this M46 but references state it is from the 1st Marine Division in Korea during 1952. The decal paper is too pale to examine the kit markings adequately.

Two more pages for the M46, kit 7288 show the parts diagram and initial assembly of the turret parts. The commander’s cupola hatch is the only hatch that can be posed open on these three model kits.

Kit Parts
Trumpeter Models M26 (T26E3) Pershing Heavy Tank kit 7264 has 95 pale gray injection-molded styrene plastic parts on two sprues and loose hull and superstructure parts. The tracks in my kit are soft band track. An extra 90-mm gun barrel (part E6) used in the M26A1 and M47 kits is included
M26A1 Pershing Heavy Tank kit 7286 has 95 parts on two sprues just like M26 model, but also with an additional two sprues-C containing 57 link & length track parts instead of the band track used on the M26 (T26E3) model kit.
M46 Patton Heavy Tank kit 7288 with a new hull and modified suspension, contains a new additional sprue-E with M46 parts. Not including the 57 link & length track parts on two sprues-C, the kit has 112 injection molded parts for the turret and hull.

The kit parts are well molded with no significant sinkholes or flash. A few parts like the brush guards are too thick. I think some filler putty and sanding along seams will help. There are no etched brass parts, no cast resin parts, nor crew figures included. For a good display model, I would replace the turret lifting rings with copper wire.

Though appearing tan color, due to lighting, these kit parts are gray in color. At top are the upper and lower hull parts for the M26 kit 7264 and the M26A1 kit 7286. Besides being longer, the M46 has a different engine deck and the mufflers mounted on the rear fenders. The driver’s hatches are molded shut which I find a little regrettable for such a nice model kit. I also notice a slight change in the contours of the ventilator between the hatches, and we may want to scribe or cut in the ventilation grooves on the side of the vent housing. On the glacis of the M46 is a small box for pick and shovel, but no pick & shovel are included. The lower hulls are slide molded and look well done.

The driver and co-driver have rotatable periscopes in the hatch and a second rotatable periscope midships, one each side of the ventilation dome. An M26A1 in a museum I saw had the second set of periscopes removed and blanked over with round plates. This is not an expert survey but in the WW2 period M26 photos I have examined there are two periscopes per position as portrayed in this model kit. The Korean period M26A1 and M46 tanks, but not all, appear to have the extra periscope next to the vent dome gone and blanked off by a round plate.

Sprue-B1 at right and B3 at left, are in the M26 and in the M26A1 kit and hold the turret and some suspension parts. Sprue B3 at far left holds the rear engine plate (part-B38), the gun barrel for the M26 with double-baffle muzzle brake (part-B37), and the gun barrel with the single-baffle muzzle brake and bore evacuator (part-B39) for the M26A1 and the M46. Sprue-B3 is not included in the M46 Model kit 7288.

I am pleased that at least the commander’s hatch can be posed open though the loader’s hatch is closed. The lifting rings on the top-front and rear-sides of the turret are solid nubs; for a better display model, we may want to replace these with copper wire.

Sprue-A is common to the M26, M26A1 and the M46 tank kits, and holds the roadwheels (parts A1 & A12), torsion bar suspension arms and some sprocket parts. The separate suspension arms (parts A6, 7, 10 & 11) allow us to articulate the wheels and track over irregular ground if we wish. Remember when modeling the tracks that this is “live” track so would not have any sag like we see in WW2 German and Soviet tank tracks.

At top we have the soft plastic band track that comes with the M26 (T26E3) Pershing Heavy Tank kit 7264. Below are the two sprues-C of hard styrene link& length tracks that comes in the M26A1 Pershing Heavy Tank kit 7286 and the M46 Patton Heavy Tank kit 7288.

Below is a close-up of the track showing good detail for both types. Both appear to be all metal track. The band track used on the M26 I believe to be the T-82 type. The link and length track used on the M26A1 and the M46 are the T-80 type. On the inside face of the hard plastic link & length track are many ejector pin marks that we should fill in as some will surely be visible after assembly.

Sprue E for only the M46 kit 7288 supplies additional track links for the longer track run of the M46. At upper left and right are the fender mounted exhaust mufflers (parts E5) and muffler covers (parts E11 & E12).


Aftermarket Parts
There are resin tracks and other aftermarkets parts available such as the etched brass set below that I located at Tracks & Troops online shop. In my opinion the etched brass brush guards are most important for a good display model.

I’ve not yet built one of these kits, but hope to soon, and I have seen several competently built and they appear to build into a good looking, reasonably accurate M26 and M46 model. For a good display model, some crew stowage, handtools on the bow of the M46, etched brass brush guards, open periscopes, and tow cables on the rear would be nice. With the M46 I think Trumpeter or Revell owes it to us to release a good M47 model kit in plastic, with both 90-mm gun and 105-mm gun versions; please.

These kits were purchased by the modeler.



  • M26/M46 Pershing Tank 1943 – 53, New Vanguard 35, by Steven Zaloga, Osprey Publishing (2000)
  • Pershing/Patton In Action, Armor No. 40, by Jim Mesko, Squadron Signal Publications
  • Inside the Chieftain's Hatch video: M26 "Pershing" Part 1, on YouTube
  • PERSHING vs TIGER Germany 1945, Duel 80, by Steven Zaloga, Osprey Publishing (2007). While not a great modeling guide, this book is an excellent and concise compare and contrast of the Pershing and the Tiger 1 tanks by an author that really knows what he is talking about. A common issue with Osprey’s Dual series of books are authors who are not familiar enough with the subject; Mr. Zaloga is not one of these.
  • T-34-85 vs M26 PERSHING Korea 1950, Duel 32, by Steven Zaloga, Osprey Publishing (2010).
  • Marine Corps Tank Battles in Korea, by Oscar Gilbert, Casemate Publishing (2003)


Trumpeter kits can be purchased from Tracks & Troops

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Article Last Updated: 17 July 2020 Back to Home Page