Tank Battle: How Did America's M-26 Pershing Fare Against North Korea's T-34 Tank?

Warfare History Network

Key Point: It was a legendary tank contest.

The North Korean People’s Army (NKPA) had almost everything going its way during the earliest Korean War battles. The opposing South Korean and American forces, weak and unprepared, were pushed into a shrinking perimeter around the small port city of Pusan. That perimeter was steadily being reinforced, with an eye toward an eventual breakout and counteroffensive. One of the units sent into the Pusan perimeter was the 1st Marine Provisional Brigade, an ad hoc unit formed to get a force into the fight quickly while the 1st Marine Division properly formed up. The brigade included a small force of M-26 Pershing tanks for support.

These tanks were hurriedly readied for service to provide a counter to the NKPA’s Soviet-Supplied T-34 tanks, which had so far ranged almost unopposed against the light tanks and anti-tank weapons available to their opponents. The two tanks had never met in combat before, but it was hoped the M-26’s 90mm gun and thick armor would prove a match for the Soviet vehicle.

Taking No-Name Ridge

NKPA pressure on the Pusan Perimeter weakened as American strength increased. By mid-August they were ready to throw the North Koreans back. The 5th Marines were assigned to take Obong-Ni ridge, known to the Marines as “No-Name Ridge.” Supporting them were four M-26s of the 1st Platoon, Company A of the 1st Marine Tank Battalion. The platoon was led by Lieutenant Granville Sweet. The NKPA 4th Infantry Division opposed the Marines with a battalion of the 109th Tank Regiment assisting them in turn.

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