Sergeant Nicholas Mashlonik watched closely as the Panzerkampfwagen (PzKpfw) VI Tiger heavy tank rampaged through the village of Elsdorf in the Rhineland-Westphalia region of Germany on February 27, 1945. The 57-ton steel monster sported a long 88mm cannon that extended from a massive turret atop the blocky, angular mass of its hull.
The Tiger I was a fearsome opponent for any Allied tank crew in World War II. Mashlonik’s job that day was to knock it out. Had he been commanding the M4 Sherman medium tank that day, the task would have seemed almost impossible without support or reinforcement, but now the odds would be evened because of the new tank he would be taking into battle against the Germans. His crew awaited him in T-26E3, designated No. 40, a new American heavy tank that weighed 46 tons and boasted a 90mm cannon.