The M36 tank destroyer, formally 90 mm Gun Motor Carriage, M36, was an American tank destroyer used during World War II. The M36 was essentially an up-gunned M10 tank destroyer, replacing the former's 3 inch (76.2mm) M7 gun with a powerful 90 mm gun.

The M36 first served in combat in Europe in September 1944, where it proved to be a match for any of the tanks being fielded by the Germans. It also saw use in the Korean War, able to defeat any of the Soviet tanks used in that conflict. Some were supplied to the Koreans as part of the Military Assistance Program and served for years, as did re-engined examples found in Yugoslavia, which operated into the 1990s. Two remained in service with the Republic of China Army at least to 2001.

American soldiers usually referred to them as TDs for 'tank destroyers'. The US Army assigned it the nickname Jackson in 1944, but this name did not see use during the war, and only became popular decades later in the 1970s.

Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1944
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United States of America View

With the advent of heavy German armor such as the Panther and Tiger, the standard U.S. tank destroyer, the 3in Gun Motor Carriage M10, was rapidly becoming obsolete, because its main armament, the 3in M7 gun, had difficulty engaging these new tanks past 500 metres. This was foreseen, however, and in September 1942 American engineers had begun designing a new tank destroyer armed with the M3 90 mm gun. This was several months before any Western Allied unit encountered a Tiger in combat, as the British First Army in Tunisia was the first western Allied unit to encounter the Tiger I in the leadup to the Battle of the Kasserine Pass at the start of 1943, and well over a year before any US unit encountered a Panther in combat.

The first M36 prototype was completed in March 1943, with a new turret mounting the 90 mm M3 gun on a standard M10 chassis. After testing, an order for 500 was issued. The prototype was designated T71 Gun Motor Carriage; upon standardization the designation was changed to 90 mm Gun Motor Carriage M36 in June 1944.

Like all US tank destroyers, the turret was open-topped to save weight and provide better observation. Postwar, a folding armored roof kit was developed to provide some protection from shell fragments, as with the M10. The M36 had a large bustle at the rear of its turret which provided a counterweight for the main gun. Eleven additional rounds of ammunition were stored inside the counterweight.

It was not until September 1944 that the vehicle first began to appear in the European Theater of Operations. About 1,400 M36s were produced during the war. The need for 90 mm gunned tank destroyers was so urgent that, during October–December 1944, 187 conversions of standard Medium Tank M4A3 hulls were produced by Grand Blanc Arsenal. These vehicles, designated M36B1, were rushed to the European Theater of Operations and used in combat alongside standard M36s. The M36 was well liked by its crews, being one of the few armored fighting vehicles available to US forces that could destroy heavy German tanks from a distance. In an engagement with a German Panther tank at 1500 yards, an M36 of the 776th TD Battalion was able to penetrate the turret armor. Crews of the M36 found that it was better to target the turret rather than the glacis plate. In addition, crews found the Panther tank to be vulnerable when hit from the side.

After World War II, the M36 was used in the Korean War. It could destroy any Soviet-made AFV deployed in that theater of operations. One postwar modification was the addition of a ball-mounted machine gun on the co-driver's side, as in many other armored fighting vehicles of the time. Due to the shortage of M26 and M46 tanks, the M36 became one of the preferred armored vehicles for MAP (Military Assistance Program) transfers. South Korean tank battalions were provided with 110 M36s (along with a small number of M10 tank destroyers) during the Korean War.

M36s were also exported after World War II to various countries. One of the recipients was Yugoslavia where the engine was replaced with the 500 hp Soviet-made diesel engine used in T-55 main battle tanks. Yugoslavian M36s participated in the Croatian War of Independence (1991–1995) but they are no longer in service with the Croatian Armed Forces due to their withdrawal immediately after the war. M36s were also used by Serbian forces in Bosnia and Croatia, and they were used during the Kosovo War as decoys for NATO air strikes. The M36 was used by the French army, during the First Indochina War. They were also supplied as part of U.S. military aid to Pakistan in the 1950s and served in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.

The Republic of China Army acquired eight ex-French examples in 1955 and had them stationed in Kinmen island group, where they are deemed more maneuverable than the bigger M48A3 and later CM11/12 MBTs while being more powerful than M24 and M41 light tanks. As of April 2001, at least two still remained in service with troops in Lieyu Township.

Other Designation(s)90mm Gun Motor Carriage M36
Production Quantity1413Production PeriodApr. 1944-July 1945
TypeTank DestroyerCrew5
Length /hull (m)7.46/5.97Barrel Overhang (m)1.49
Width (m)3.05Height (m)3.28
Combat Weight (kg)28600Radio EquipmentSCR610
Primary Armament90mm Gun M3Ammunition Carried47
Traverse (degrees)360°Elevation (degrees)-10° to +20°
Traverse speed (360°)15 sec.Sightn.a.
Secondary Armament-Ammunition Carried-

Engine Make & ModelFord GAATrack Links79/track
Type & DisplacementV8, 18 litersTrack Width42.1 cm
Horsepower (max.)500hp@2600rpmTrack Ground Contact373.4 cm
Power/Weight Ratio17.5 hp/tonneGround Pressure12.9 psi
Gearbox5 forward, 1 reverseGround Clearance (m)0.43
FuelGasoline (Petrol)Turning Radius (m)18.9
Range on/off road (km)249/177Gradient (degrees)31°
Mileage (liters/100km)568 on/758 off roadVertical Obstacle (m)0.61
Fuel Capacity (liters)873Fording (m)0.91
Speed on/off road42/8-32 km/hTrench Crossing (m)2.3
Armor DetailFrontSideRearTop/Bottom
Gun Shield76mm@45°---

End notes