M26 vs IS-2

Discussion on the tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles, which participated in World War 2.
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M26 vs IS-2

Postby Ricky » Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:34 pm

These are the ultimate heavy tanks that the Allies managed to field in WW2 - both quite successful designs whose descendants remained in use throughout the Cold War. We have compared them both to the German Tigers, but how did they stack up against each other?

I don't think that they ever met on the field of combat, but they certainly could have given minor alterations in Soviet policy (selling some to North Korea, for example)
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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby canambridge » Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:57 am

The M26 probably only had a couple of advantages over the IS-2. Notably the five man crew (four for the IS-2), one piece ammunition (IS-2 122mm ammo was two piece) and greater ammo load (70 for M26 vs 28 for IS-2) and an overall lower gross weight (42 tonnes vs 46 tonnes). The M26 had better anti-armor capabilities, especially with the HVAP ammo, but this was probably irrelevant as each was capable of defeating the other. The IS-2 HE capability was better than the 90mm of the M26. Turret traverse speed of the M26 was probably better.

It would have been a case of first to (sight, shot and) hit would win.

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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby Christian Ankerstjerne » Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:04 pm

The M26 did have a significant advantage in its gyrostabilized gun. This would have allowed it to close in on the JS-2 while firing, while at the same time preventing the JS-2 from getting a good shot.

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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby Pika » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:45 pm

Well if we talk about IS-2 it is best to make some specifications are we talking about IS-2 or IS-2M because IS-2 had the A19 gun while the IS-2M had the 122mm D-25T wich was a great improvement otherwise I would agree with canambridge first who shoots is the winner :)
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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby Ricky » Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:35 pm

Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:The M26 did have a significant advantage in its gyrostabilized gun. This would have allowed it to close in on the JS-2 while firing, while at the same time preventing the JS-2 from getting a good shot.


Although I do remember reading that (in previous tanks at least) the crews often disengaged the giro, as they distrusted having a large, rapidly spinning hunk of metal inside the tank with them.
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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby Herr Robert » Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:51 am

I would say the M26 was the better tank. It would probably be a matter of who fired the first shot, but the M26 would likely have a faster rate of fire and — if my information is correct — it had a faster turret traverse than the IS-2, with ~15 seconds for a full rotation compared to ~25 seconds for the IS-2.

Pika wrote:Well if we talk about IS-2 it is best to make some specifications are we talking about IS-2 or IS-2M because IS-2 had the A19 gun while the IS-2M had the 122mm D-25T wich was a great improvement otherwise I would agree with canambridge first who shoots is the winner :)


I would assume the IS-2 Mod. 1944 (IS-2m), as it was the most common one.

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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby Major D » Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:09 am

The IS2 was certainly the inferior tank in an armoured fight against virtually any tank with a 75mm gun or better.

The IS2 (D25T) gun was a howitzer with less than spectacular accuracy. At ranges of over abour 1200m, the gun was almost unable to score a hit although a near miss was damaging enough. With a normal loadout of 8 APHE rounds the IS2 would have to score a hit very quickly or be out of the battle. The gun had to be lowered to allow the spent casing to be removed, meaning that each shot had to be re-layed. The unimpressive charge fired a low velocity round and produced a huge smoke plume which signalled the presence and accurate location of the IS2. The muzzle brake could not have made the problem any better. With a slow reload time and a documented average number of shots per hit of 3, any astute enemy tank commander could easily fire several return shots from a M26 (or a Panther for that matter) on target and still have time to evade the next shot.

At low range the situation for the IS2 was not much better. Several vulnerable niches in the armour made this tank very much a coffin for the crew, while again, the gunner would have to score a hit with the first shot if he has any hope of survival. As a mobile howitzer the IS2 was unbeatable; firing at buildings at relatively close range (500-1000m) with little chance of high velocity return fire and in the company of the rest of a platoon for support. But as an anti-tank gun the IS2 was a paper tiger.

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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby Mk 1 » Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:51 am

The IS-2's D25T was a development of the A-19, which was a field gun, and was most certainly not classified as a howitzer.

At a length of 43 calibers it had the same ratio of bore-to-length as the 75mm "long gun" in the original Pz IVF2, the original "special" that so terrorized the British in the western desert.

While it was indeed a slow loading gun, the striking power was impressive. Penetration was about 140mm at 30 degrees at 500 yards. A Pershing, with hull front of 100mm armor at about 30 degrees, and a mantlet of 110 degrees (at a wide variety of angles, as it was rounded), should not expect to survive anything but a glancing blow by a 122mm APHE round in combat. Period.

If we are indeed considering the IS-2m (M1944), then the hull front of the IS-2 will resist a 90mm APC shell round M82 pretty well. Only a strike on or near to the driver's direct vision slot will be likely to penetrate. The 90mm AP shot round T33 has a better chance, but penetration was only rated by Ordnance at 150mm at 20 degrees at 0 yards range, which is not enough to reliably penetrate the IS-2m's 120mm of armor at 60 degrees. The 90mm HVAP shot round T30 had better penetration at close to 275mm at 0 yards, but was rather notorious for its tendancy to riccochet from highly sloped plate.

The turret front, at 100mm, can only resist glancing blows by any of the 90mm AP rounds. But the shape of the IS-2 turret provides more opportunities for glancing blows than the shape of the M26 turret, as it is rounded both vertically and horizontally. Still any solid strike will likely punch through.

The Pershing will have a higher rate of fire, and as mentioned can maneuver a bit while firing. I would not make too great of a deal out of the stabilizer, as the gun was only stabilized in elevation (not in traverse). This gave the gunner some assistance in keeping his sights on target as the tank moved over broken terrain, but any extensive maneuvering will still degrade his aim. Still it is a small advantage.

The Pershing has a disadvantage in its powertrain. It was the least reliable, and most under-powered, of any US Army tank to be accepted for service. In particular it had a tendancy to shed it's one and only fan belt if the engine was over-torqued, meaning that an inexperienced or over-excited driver could make a mistake in combat that would immediately cut all power to the hydrolic system (used for turret traverse), and within a period of 1 or 2 minutes overheat the engine. Not a happy development for the tank crew in a tight spot!

Still, all said and done, I would give the edge to the Pershing. The gun was faster-firing and more accurate at range, and the turret faster traversing. Those are enough to give them the edge in all but the most dis-advantaged tactical situations.

Just my opinions. Keep or discard at your discretion.

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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby 2nd.Dragoon » Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:07 pm

I was not impressed by the 'Westinghouse?' stableizer which we tested at Lulworth .......the one on the Cent that I tried later on Korea reserve-recall in 51 was brilliant.

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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby Mk 1 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:24 pm

Yep. The Westinghouse gyro was (IIRC) present from the M3 Lee up through the M26 Pershing. Most crews dis-engaged it, as they found that having breach of the gun swinging up and down of its own free will, within the confines of an already crowded space, was too alarming to allow them to work effectively.

By reputation, when it was engaged, it was not able to actually keep the sights on a target while the tank moved over broken ground. Rather, it allowed the gunner to keep the sights oriented near the target, moving in a fairly smooth vertical pendulum kind of motion as the tank rocked on its suspension or crossed any kind of vertical ground. Of course the gunner also had to control the traverse of the turret directly, as the gyro affected only the gun's elevation. The combination led to a kind of oblong/circular arching motion of the sights around the target. This was enough to give an advantage to a gunner who was practiced in its use. But as to actually firing accurately on the move? Nope, not so much. Perhaps if the tank was moving slowly enough (5mph or less), over ground without too much vertical pitch (a roadway with only a little rubble perhaps), then it could be said that the gyro allowed the gunner to fire accurately on the move. But at any higher speed, and when moving cross-country, the real benefit was that it allowed the gunner to get onto the target faster when the driver came to a short halt.

The Centurion's stabilizer, on the other hand, had the reputation for being good enough to allow the gunner to actually aim and shoot while the tank was on the move. Not as well as he could from a halt, but still enough to be effective.

At least that is what I have read. Never crewed any of them myself.

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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby 2nd.Dragoon » Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:54 pm

In 1951 we were riding in a Cent at Tidworth and the stableizer was demonstrated to us by sighting onto a target, driving around, up and down, behind a wood and when we came onto clear ground the gun was still on target.

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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby puckett » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:36 am

I would say the m26 with the 90mm gun will take the is-2.

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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby dutchman » Tue Sep 09, 2014 12:08 pm

I'd have to give a slight edge to the M-26 in a head to head 1 on 1 fight. But remember in the Russian propaganda release they would come out on top either way it went. If they won the battle they would brag it up, if they lost they would tell folks they finished second while the Americans came in next to last! :lol:

Hmmm are those folks working in Washington now???
Last edited by dutchman on Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby Sadurian » Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:32 am

Like so many encounters, it really depends on the crews. Using France 1940 as an example, the 20mm gun of the Panzer II and the 37mm of the Panzer III were theoretically going to struggle badly against the armour of the French tanks (S-35 and Char B, I'm thinking of here), whereas the 47mm of the French tanks could go through the German armour like a knife through butter.

However, better training and communication won out in most encounters. Not always, it should be said, but most. Remember also that you don't need to destroy a tank to win the encounter!

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Re: M26 vs IS-2

Postby Carrylim » Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:52 am

I think the IS-2 wins in this one, at least on specifications.

The IS-2 was arguably the most powerful heavy tank in WWII. The only tank that could match the IS-2 was the King Tiger.


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