SPRINGFIELD ARMORY T26 "TANKER GARAND"
FOLLOWING TEXT FROM: http://www.wapahani.com/rifles5.html
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 Phillippines. 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 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. Penney, 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 the Civilian Marksmanship Program, CMP). Robert Penney noted the short Garand at the Springfield Armory museum during a visit there and decided to meld his interest in tanks with his business interests, Alpine and National Ordnance, prime "remanufacturers" of Garands from Garand scrap. Penney decided that a short T26-type Garand would fit nicely in a tank turret, and coined the term "Tanker Garand." However, the short Garands that were tested by the Army during WWII were not intended for use by tank crews! Nevertheless, Penney's name for the T26-type rifle stubbornly stuck; few gun people recognize "T26" but nearly 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.
Scott Duff and I have some evidence that a substantial number of rifles were in fact converted in the Phillippines 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.
The T26 (so-called "Tanker Garand") is a very good example, along with others like the U.S. Carbine, Cal. .30, M1E5 - a short barreled Garand with a metal pantagraph-type folding stock that some thought might see paratrooper service... it didn't... most of these remain at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site to this day."
NOTE: There are varying models of the T26 Tanker Garand out there, most having been manufactured by Springfield Armory in the 1980's and 1990's. They are available in the original 30-06 Springfield or the 308 Winchester (7.62x51mm NATO) round. The TANKER GARAND fires in semi-auto (gas operated) either the .30-06 or .308-Winchester, feeding from an 8-rounds internal magazine.
Photo and Information from: PIERANGELO TENDAS