T28 Super Heavy Tank
The Super Heavy Tank T28 (at one point and sometimes called 105 mm Gun Motor Carriage T95) was a prototype heavily armored tank destroyer designed for the United States Army during World War II. It was originally designed to be used to break through German defenses at the Siegfried Line, and was later considered as a possible participant in an invasion of the Japanese mainland. Sometimes referred to as a super-heavy tank, the T28 was re-designated as the 105 mm Gun Motor Carriage T95 in 1945 and then renamed a super heavy tank in 1946 as the Super Heavy Tank T28.
It was first conceived in the spring of 1945, but proved to be too late to be used in World War II. The original name for the project was to be T28/T95. The Pacific Car and Foundry Company designed it for the final push in Europe, but by the time the first tank was completed and ready for combat, the war was over. The original plans called for five prototype vehicles to be built, and eventually for a total of twenty-five tanks to be constructed.
As it did not have a turret, but a fixed casemate mount instead for its main armament, and the 105 mm gun fitted could only elevate from 19.5° to -5° and traverse from 10° right to 11° left of the centreline, the T28/T95 more closely resembled a self-propelled gun, and was redesignated as the T95 Gun Motor Carriage in 1945, but in June 1946, the vehicle was redesignated again as Super Heavy Tank T28. It has been argued that it was neither a super-heavy tank nor a self-propelled gun, but that it was in fact a very heavy tank destroyer, more accurately as an American version of one of the German Jagdpanzer-style tank destroyers, intended to take on German heavy tanks. It was also designed to take on heavy German defensive lines.
Two prototypes of the T28 were built. They underwent evaluation at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds and the Fort Knox facilities until 1947. In 1947 one of the T28s was heavily damaged by an engine fire during trials at Yuma Proving Grounds and was broken up and sold for scrap. The T28 never went into service. This was because during the later stages of T28 development and evaluation were overtaken by that of the T29 and T30 turreted heavy tank design. The T29 mounted the same gun as the T28 in a conventional rotating turret. The T30 was developed with a larger-caliber gun and more powerful engine. Due to this the T28 program was terminated in October 1947.
In 1974 the last prototype was discovered abandoned in a back field at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. It is unknown where it spent the intervening 27 years. It is the sole remaining example of these tanks and was exhibited at the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor in Kentucky. In 2011, it was shipped to its new home at Fort Benning, Georgia, where it is currently awaiting display.
The T28 was designed and manufactured by Pacific Car and Foundry. The mechanical superstructure was taken from a T23. The original plan was to build five prototype vehicles, with a production total of 25. Its total weight when fully equipped would have reached 95 short tons (86 tonnes). To carry this weight, it used four tracks instead of two, each 12.9 inches (328 mm) wide. The outer tracks could be detached for easier transport. After removal they could be fixed together to make a unit that could be towed behind the tank. Due to its extreme weight and low engine power, the T28 had extremely limited obstacle-crossing ability and could not cross any of the portable bridges available at the time, and so was considered impractical in the field and not suitable for production.
The T28 had no conventional turret, with a casemate style hull instead, giving it a comparatively low profile. Its main armament was a 105 mm T5E1 gun, in a ball-shaped gun mantlet set into the hull front. Although it was technically a part of a gun mantlet it was really attached to the hull. Due to this it was not a true tank at all, but a "Gun Motor Carriage". The traverse was limited to 10° right and 11° left, and elevation from 19.5° to −5°. When traveling, the gun was locked at the maximum elevation. It also had a .50 inch (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun mounted above the commander's hatch. The main gun had a muzzle velocity of 3,700 feet per second (1,130 m/s), with a range of up to 12 miles (19 km).
The armor was very thick compared to other tanks of the time, up to 12 inches (300 mm) thick on the front. This was considered heavy enough to provide protection from the German 88mm gun used as tank gun and anti-tank guns. The lower hull front had 5.25 in (130 mm) of armor, and the sides 2.5 in (64 mm). The suspension system and lower hull were covered with 4-in (100 mm) thick steel skirts. The engine was a gasoline-powered Ford GAF V-8, delivering 500 hp, which left the vehicle underpowered with a top speed of about 8 mph (13 km/h) and greatly limited its obstacle-climbing capability.
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