I had a discussion in the forums about the M26E1 recently and this topic has kept bugging my mind for a while. All the values I use in this topic are using a fully upgraded crew with ace qualification.
Why does the M26E1 have a reload of 11.11 seconds (5.4 RPM)?
I don’t think that it should have the 7.5 second reload that the normal 90 mm M3 cannons do, as the full rounds of the T54 are still heavier than those of the M3. However, Hunnicutt lists the reload rate of the M26E1 at 6 RPM in “Pershing: A History of the Medium Tank T20 Series”, which would lead to 10 seconds.
I know reload rates are used as a soft balancing factor, but I don’t think giving the M26E1 a slightly faster reload would break the current balance, even though the M26E1 is already, at least in my eyes, a good vehicle. At it currently stands, it reloads about 1.4 seconds faster faster than the T26E1-1, which does 12.5 seconds. The Super Pershing is pretty much its “main competitor” inside the US tech tree, effectively being the same tank but with a lot of additional armor leading to additional weight, lower top speeds and a slightly slower reload because of the 90 mm T15E1 cannon instead of the 90 mm T54 mounted on the M26E1, as the T15E1 used much longer and thinner casings that made it harder to handle inside the turret.
One thing to consider is that the M26E1 has only 5 rounds in its ready rack compared to 10 rounds on the Super Pershing, with each tank having a reload multiplier for non ready rounds of 1.16 and 1.6 respectively. Once the ready rack of the M26E1 is emptied, it reloads in 12.89 seconds, and while the T26E1-1 does go to 20 seconds without a ready rack, this is much less problematic as it has twice as many ready rounds. Effectively the M26E1 can only have the reload advantage for so long.
There are other tanks I will mention, such as the now “removed” 6.7 Panther II and the 7.0 T-44-100. Both of these fire APCBC rounds that can be considered more powerful than those fired by the T54 cannon and sit at the same BR or extremely close to it.
The Panther II reloads in 8.55 seconds. It has a 10 round ready rack, and a 1.17 reload multiplier for non-ready rounds, effectively the same as the M26E1, leading to exactly a 10 second reload without ready rounds. Even without a ready rack, the Panther II reloads over a second faster than the M26E1.
The T-44-100 has a more similar reload to that of the M26E1, at 10.53 seconds. It has a reload multiplier of 1.5 for non-ready rounds, so 15.79 seconds without a ready rack. However, this is once again a tank that has 10 ready rounds.
Rambling about how the M26E1 would reload faster than both in real life, ignoring in-game balancing decisions.
The Panther II would be extremely hard to reload if not outright impossible, as it uses the long 88 mm cannon on an schmalturm turret that has not received the modifications that would be made for it to utilize said cannon in the first place.
The T-44-100 uses a cannon that is physically larger than the 90 mm T54, fires rounds that are heavier and uses casings that quite a bit longer (casings for the T54 are roughly 24 inches, or 609 mm, and the casings for the 100 mm are 695 mm long), and roughly the same width (5.8 inches, 147.32 mm), leading to the overall round being slightly longer (M82 projectile is very long). It can be assumed that the overall weight of a round for the 100 mm D-10T is higher than one for the 90 mm T54.
Another thing to consider is that, in both the Panther II and T-44-100, the loader sits on the right side of the turret, meaning that he uses his left arm to load rounds into the breech. This is the opposite for the M26E1, meaning that the loader uses his right arm. A majority of people on Earth are right handed, so this would improve the reload of the M26E1 over the Panther II and T-44-100 further.
For me, the main focus of the M26E1 ends up not being the reload, which is weird given that it really should be the main focus of this tank. The 90 mm T54 had the purpose of basically fixing the reload shortcomings of the T15E1 and E2, but in-game the advantage in reload just isn’t that meaningful, at least not when compared to the T15E1 that sits at the same BR of 6.7. Really, what I’ve found to be the reason why I think the M26E1 is good is simply that you get better mobility than the T26E1-1, while having the firepower of the long 90 mm cannon.
However, there are medium tanks at this BR that have similar or nearly objectively better power in the rounds they fire, yet still reload faster than the M26E1.
With all that said, I don’t see how a reload of 10 seconds, 11.6 seconds without ready rack would be unbalanced, and I do think this should be the reload of the M26E1.