Top Photo from previous page: The "Super Pershing" T26E4, a modified standard Pershing T26, is shown at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in early 1945 shortly before being shipped to the 3rd Armored Division inside Germany via England. Bottom Photo: The legendary 77-ton German King Tiger, or Tiger II.
Only two Super Pershings were ever built and the 3AD had the only one in the war - an experimental version with its remarkably long barrel. Arriving very late for combat (March, 1945), it was assigned to the 3AD's 33rd Armored Regiment and field tested inside Germany. Additional armor plating was added and other modifications made.The Super Pershing, now at 53 tons, and with its new long barrel, also came with special 90mm ammunition that produced a muzzle velocity of 3,850 feet per second, or some 600 feet per second faster than the 88mm of the King Tiger.
The Super Pershing subsequently saw about ten days of actual combat action, beginning several days after the Battle of Paderborn and ending inside the city of Dessau near the Elbe River. Only three days before the 3AD's final combat of WWII, the Super Pershing and its 33rd AR crew would finally have its chance against a King Tiger. The German tank, apparently waiting in ambush off a Dessau street, fired first but shot high and missed. An immediate reply by the American crew also failed, as their high-explosive round ricocheted off the King Tiger's huge angled front plate. Then just as the German monster was moving forward and raising up over a pile of rubble, an armor-piercing round from the Super Pershing penetrated the Tiger's underbelly, apparently striking the ammo well and resulting in a tremendous explosion that blew its turret loose and very likely killed its entire crew.
Unfortunately both of the only Super Pershings ever built were scrapped within several years after the war and forever lost as treasured Army museum pieces. Of the 33rd AR crew in Germany, only two names are known: the tank commander, Staff Sgt. Joseph Maduri of Massachusetts, and the tank's gunner, Corporal John P. Irwin of Pennsylvania.
~ By Dan Fong and Vic Damon of 3AD.com staff