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T26 Tanker 1943

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    T26 Tanker 1943

    Title: RIFLE, MILITARY - U.S. RIFLE T26 .30 SN# 2291873 (AKA: "TANKER GARAND")
    Maker/Manufacturer: GARAND, JOHN C.
    Date of Manufacture: 1943
    Eminent Figure:
    Catalog Number: SPAR 1908
    Measurements: OL: 95.5CM 37.6" BL: 45.7CM 18" 7.5 lbs.
    Object Description:

    U.S. RIFLE T26 .30 SN# 2291873
    Manufactured at Springfield Armory, Springfield, Ma. in 1943 - Modified M1 with the barrel shortened 6 inches. Gas-operated, 8-round en bloc clip-fed. Weapon has an overall length of 37.6", a barrel length of 18" and weighs approximately 7.5 lbs. Designed for paratroopers. This is one of the pieces converted in Philippines and sent to the Ordnance Department in Washington as a model arm. Tests at Aberdeen on two shortened T26's made at Springfield concluded that the weapon exhibited 80% more muzzle flash and 50% more muzzle blast than a standard M1. The recoil was also reported as being "...noticeably heavier than that of a standard rifle." It is believed that no more than 152 of these were made with probably two being newly fabricated at the Springfield Armory. Weapon popularly, though erroneously, known as "Tanker Garand."

    Receiver: U.S. RIFLE/CAL..30 M1/SPRINGFIELD/ARMORY/2291873.
    Barrel: 1 S-A-12-43.
    Bolt: D28287-12SA/RE5B.
    Safety: -4.W.R.A.
    Triggerguard: C46025W.R.A.

    Weapon transferred to the Museum from the Office of Chief of Ordnance, Washington, D.C. on 9 September 1949.

    Notes: "THE M1 'TANKER' MODIFICATION - The so-called 'Tanker' owes its existence to the long-standing dissatifaction with the range, lethality and foliage penetration ('brush cutting') capabilities of the M1 carbine. A few statistics explain why this is true: the bullet used in the .30-06 M1 (Garand) rifles weighs 150 grains; fired with the velocity of 2740 feet per second (fps), it develops 2170 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards. By comparison, the bullet fired by the M1 carbine weighs 110 grains; at a muzzle velocity of 1900 fps, it produces only 600 foot-pounds of energy at the same distance - not much more than a quarter of the Garand. Thus the temptation to substitute the greater fire-power of the M1 rifle is understandable, although reducing the barrel to carbine length would sacrifice some of the gain in power.
    The Ordnance Department was basically unsympathetic to these field complaints, maintaining that the carbine and rifle were intended to serve separate and distinct purposes. In 1945, with fighting raging in the dense jungles of the western Pacific, where 'brush-cutting' ability was important, the Pacific Warfare Board took matters into its own hands. It ordered an ordnance unit of the 6th Army in the Philippines to make up 150 shortened M1 rifles for testing. These rifles were cut to carbine length, making them short enough to carry comfortably in the jungle or to fit into a tank. This, apparently, is the origin of the term 'Tanker' Garand, which was never officially adopted and is somewhat puzzling in that tank warfare did not figure prominently in the Pacific Theater.
    Col. William Alexander, head of the Pacific Warfare Board, obviously thought the 'short M1' was the answer, for he requested the Ordnance Dept. to make up 15,000 short rifles. To facilitate design of the new weapon, he sent one of their rifles to special courier to the Ordnance Dept. (This is the weapon exhibited here, SPAR-1908.)
    When the 'short rifle' arrived at Springfield Armory, engineers recognized immediately that they had done the same thing a year before when they had developed the M1E5. The only difference was that the E5 had a folding wire stock and was intended primarily for paratroops. All they had to was to pop off the trigger housing, removing the folding stock, and install the action on a standard M1 stock. However, since the receiver of the earlier experiment was marked M1E5, the model shop took a new M1 receiver and built it from ground up with modified parts. This rifle, along with the rifle from the Pacific Warfare Board, was shipped to Aberdeen Proving Grounds for tests. By now the 'short rifles' had been designated T26.
    The results of the testing showed that the weapon suffered from lack of reliable function, excessive recoil and excessive muzzle blast. Function problems were traced to: (1) the rework needed to produce a shorter operating rod changed force angles, causing the rod Because Germany had already surrendered and victory in the Pacific was close at hand, and because test results were unsatisfactory, it was decided to cancel all orders before any T26 rifles were actually produced. The only T26 made at Springfield Armory was damaged during testing and possibly salvaged for parts. The Pacific War Board prototype was returned to Springfield and placed in the museum. This is the weapon that appears in standard published photos. In reality, there were only 151 'Tanker' Garands made. Few of these probably survive. Some may have gone home in soldiers' duffel bags, but most would have been stripped and rebuilt to normal configuration in the years following World War II.
    Identification of a legitimate 'Tanker' is difficult. All specimens would have been built from rifles in used condition; therefore, the serial number range would reflect that. Numbers would probably be lower than 3,500,000 and could not be above 3,800,000. The barrel date, of course, would be no later than early 1945. Also, the receiver is marked as a normal M1 and would of either Springfield Armory or Winchester manufacture. Judging by the specimen in the Springfield Armory Museum, workmanship was marginal. The barrel splines look like they were hand filed and much freehand saw and file work shows up.
    Despite the insignificant numbers of 'Tanker' Garands actually made by the Army and their complete lack of success, their popularity grew. By the 1960s, when Garands became readily available through government surplus channels, a number of enterprising individuals began providing customizing services for M1 owners. One of the more popular services was, predictably, making 'Tanker' versions. In those days a nice M1 could be obtained for $79.95, so a $40 'chop job' was not considered to be an offense against a collector's price." - Richard Harkins

    "WHAT'S A 'TANKER' GARAND? by Walter J. Kuleck, Ph.D. The 'Tanker Garand' is a 'misnomer.' During WWII two separate prototypes were developed for paratroop use. The first was the M1E5. The M1E5 had a short barrel and a folding metal stock. It was developed and tested in the Summer of 1944, but then abandoned because of the loud report and large muzzle flash from the short barrel.
    In the fall of 1944 the Pacific Warfare Board ordered a test quantity of 150 M1 Rifles to be shortened and tested for jungle and paratroop use. These conversions were rather crudely done in the Pacific Theatre of Operations, either in Australia or the Philippines. A request was made that Springfield Armory manufacture these shortened M1s, and two were sent by air to the USA for testing.
    When the Springfield Armory staff saw the improvised short Garands, they recognized that they were the same as the M1E5 but with a normal wood stock. Thereupon they assembled their own version, designated the T26. After testing the same conclusions were drawn as before; the barrel was just too short to be practical. Thus only one T26 was ever made in the USA.
    Of the two test rifles sent from the Pacific, one is in the Springfield Armory Museum. The location of the other, if it still exists, is unknown. The lone T26 was reported destroyed in testing at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.
    In the 1950's several entrepreneurs, including Robert E. Penning, Jr., acquired a great deal of Garand scrap including cut-in-half receivers and parts sets. They built perhaps ten or twenty thousand rifles by welding receiver halves together. This was crude, but it was the only way at that time to get a Garand outside of the Directorate of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM, now y everyone has heard of the 'Tanker Garand.'
    Even now when M1s have been much more available, the popularity of a short Garand remains strong. Thus many have been made on good, original receivers. I have such a T26 replica (as I prefer to call it). It is a near certainty that any short Garand you see is a commercial conversion of a full-sized rifle or a commercial 'reproduction' on an M1 receiver. Scott Duff and I have some evidence that a substantial number of rifles were in fact converted in the Philippines in 1944; we have some evidence of when and where they may have been issued. However, no 'factory built' T26 will be found, and no field-converted short Garand has ever been found. We believe that the latter were converted back into standard rifles or destroyed. Should one exist, it would be an important historic artifact. I do not believe that any exist, however."

    "U.S. RIFLE, CAL..30 M1, 'AIRBORNE MODEL' - In the fall of 1944, the Pacific Warfare Board requested 150 shortened models of the M1 Garand be produced for testing purposes. the goal was to produce an M1 Garand of carbine length, suitable for use by airborne troops in Operation Olympic, the planned final assault of mainland Japan. An ordnance unit of the 6th Army stationed in the Philippines was selected to produce these rifles. The shortened M1 Garand...was the result of these efforts. The 6th Army models exhibited considerable wear and were evidently issued for combat use before conversion into carbines. From examination of the only extant specimen, it is evident that ordnance personnel used a considerable amount of hand labor in producing their versions of the Airborne Carbine. The spline cuts on the shortened barrels were in with a file and other evidence of hand fitting of parts is present. No more than 150 of these models were produced.
    The shortened Garands produced by the 6th Army, were then issued to various units for testing and evaluation. At least some were issued to the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment stationed at Noemfoor, New Guinea.
    Colonel William Alexander, Chief of the Pacific Warfare Board, then sent two carbine models, serial numbers 2,291,873 and 2,437,139 to the Wash. D.C. Ordnance Department. Col. Alexander also requested that 15,000 of the carbines be manufactured for use by airborne units in the Pacific Theater.
    Springfield Armory evaluated the two carbines submitted for testing and then manufactured an additional carbine using all new components.
    This new SA model and one of the field conversion models (SN 2,437,139) were sent to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds for testing. On 26 July 1945, tests confirmed that Muzzle flash had increased by 80 percent; muzzle blast by 50 percent; and recoil increased substantially. As with the May 1944 Springfield Paratroop Carbine with folding stock, these problems could probably have been resolved. The intervention of the Atomic Bomb ended the war in August 1945 and further production orders were canceled.
    The SA new production T26 Carbine (SN unknown) was reportedly damaged in the Aberdeen tests and lost to history. The whereabouts of the 6th Army field conversion model, SN 2,437,139 is unknown. It was not returned to Springfield after the tests were completed. The only known 6th Army field conversion model, SN 2,291,873 is still present in the Springfield Armory Museum. The remaining inventory of the 6th Army shortened Garands were reportedly converted back to the standAnd there you have it. The above is a documented history of the short 'Airborne' models of the M1 Garand. Other than 150 possibly produced by the 6th Army, and two produced by Springfield, no other originals are known to have been manufactured.
    Although no more than 152 of the 'Airborne' models were produced (in three types) they left an indelible mark in the history of the M1 Garand. Almost every collector of U.S. Military Arms has had an opportunity to purchase a 'bonafide original' Tanker Garand. Your author has examined hundreds of 'Tanker' models over the years, and even purchased a couple in his early more gullible years. None were in fact original and one blew up when I fired it." - Harrison

    "The T26 is a commercial product only but was spun off a series of experiments originated at Springfield Armory and executed mostly at Ft. Bragg and Aberdeen Ordnance Proving Grounds. In the 1944-1946 period, the M1E5 folding stock gun - fairly standard save for stock and 18-inch barrel - was found to work better when the gas port was enlarged an additional .007 inch. A small batch of the modified rifles in both fixed-stock and folding-stock variants saw fairly extensive testing, and reports were quite negative. Accuracy was also not good using standard ammunition, though loads with faster powders should shoot quite well.
    The operating rod the T26 is modified, trimmed, and recurved; the follower rod is trimmed to accommodate the thicker spring, which is seated farther back; and, of course, the front handguard is trimmed to just over 2 inches total length.
    Lubrication with 9+ pound rifle is especially important because the compression of all the physical forces on a shorter span increases the overall violence of the action." - Thompson

    The project to shortened M1 rifles received new life when Headquarters, Pacific Theater of Operations requested 15,000 rifles with an 18" barrel. A courier from the Pacific Warfare Board delivered two models, one believed to be this arm, to the Ordnance Office in July, 1945. A comparison of the sample arm with the M1E5 indicated that the latter in a modified M1 stock was superior. The Armory reported to Colonel Studler's office that the 15,000 T26s could be delivered within five months. The surrender of Japan in August cancelled the project.
    It is believed that at least one hundred and fifty 18" barrel M1s were made in the Philippines. One was used by a paratrooper in the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, at that time, attached to the Sixth Army. The following is excerpted from a letter written by a paratrooper from the 503rd:
    "...Lt. Col. Alexander, who was a qualified parachutist from 6th Army came to us in about October, 1944, at Noemfoor (New Guinea). He had an M1 Garand with six inches cut off the barrel. It has some advantages such as a carbine length weapon firing a heavier, standard round, easier handling in the burst, light, a good length to jump with, and the tough, long-lasting characteristics of the superb M1, the comparable - but that's another story. I believe three platoon leaders were selected from each battalion as a weapons test committee. I knew Col. Britten picked three, and I was one of them, the three of us did our testing together and wrote up a report which was incorporated in the complete report which I understood was unanimous. We all loved the little gun, but it had a defect which we all felt made it totally unsuitable for a combat weapon with standard M1 ammunition. The muzzle blast was terrific. In the darker forest it was like a flash-bulb going off. Even in the sunlight it was obvious. Alexander was disappointed he was sold on it as a paratrooper weapon."

    One of the T26s tested at Aberdeen was serial number 2437139.

    In the early 1960s, a Mr. Robert Penny and several associates, were manufacturing military style weapons. Their firm, Alpine and National Ordnance, was not in any way associated with the U
    "A quantity of these rifles was ordered in 1945 for the Pacific Theatre, although the order was later rescinded; the title combined the action of the M1E5 with a shortened M1 stock." - Hogg & Weeks

    See, Duff, THE M1 GARAND: WWII, Scott A. Duff, pg. 100.

    Duff, Scott. THE M1 GARAND: WWII. Scott A. Duff. Export, Pa. 1993.
    Harrison, J.C. COLLECTING THE GARAND. Jesse C. Harrison. Oklahoma City, Ok. 1995.
    Hogg, Ian V. & John S. Weeks. MILITARY SMALL ARMS OF THE 20TH CENTURY. 7th Ed. Krause Publications. Iola, Wi. 2000.Thompson, Jim. THE COMPLETE M1 GARAND: A GUIDE FOR THE SHOOTER AND COLLECTOR. Paladin Press. Boulder, Co. 1998.

    OCM Item 29462 (October 18, 1945), "Rifle, Caliber .30 T26 - Termination of Development," 99.

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    My late father was in the 503rd PIR in the SWPA in WWII. I remember as a young man him telling me about an M1 rifle that he had acquired that had a barrel 6" shorter than a standard M1 rifle. Dad passed in '79 and unfortunately I wasn't the gun nut that I am now and didn't ask enough, or the right kinds of questions. I did however know one of his jump buddies who knew about Dad's rifle and wrote to me about it extensively. If you have Duff's red book, look on page 101. It is I who gave that information to Duff to put in his book. I still have the correspondences from Dad's buddy. It was interesting to see the rifle when I visited SA back in 2001.
    Just finished the above article and the part about "a letter written from a 503rd trooper" is the letter I supplied to Scott Duff.
    Last edited by TJT; 01-17-2018, 10:07 AM.


      Although the reviews weren't fully complimentary, I still would've liked the opportunity to own or even just shoot paratrooper variant.
      Click image for larger version

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