The M36 Jackson was built on an older design: the M10 Gun Motor Carriage, itself based on the chassis of the M4 Sherman tank.
The United States’ doctrine on combating the powerful heavy German tanks was with speed, manoeuvrability and firepower. In action this was done by safe distance ambushes and hit and run tactics. Chasing or charging enemy armored vehicles was prohibited.
These tactics were also required to combat German Blitzkrieg tactics, and to help with this, new armored fighting vehicles would need to be developed with different levels of firepower, armor and speed.
The M36 Jackson was on the larger end of this range, and successfully combined firepower and manoeuvrability in one platform that had the capabilities to deal with the powerful German tanks like the Tiger I and Panther. The Jackson, unlike contemporary tank destroyers at the time, had a full traversable open top turret. This gave the crew great visibility and situational awareness – something crucial to their tank doctrine, but it also made them vulnerable to grenades, shrapnel and small arms fire.
Its 90 mm M3 gun made it one of the most powerful and effective US tank destroyers of the war. The gun was so powerful that it meant the Jackson was used in many post war conflicts with various nations.
The M36 fulfilled the firepower side, but it lacked in the speed department. It was considerably slower than the incredibly fast M18 Hellcat.
Unfortunately for the Allies the Jackson would arrive to combat until October 1944, but it quickly became appreciated for the sheer stopping power of its 90 mm, and was one of the few Allied tanks of the war that could tackle the heavier German tanks for afar.
All that firepower came a cost however, as the huge muzzle blast meant crews vision was obscured by smoke and dust after each shot, significantly reducing its rate of fire for its first month of combat. This was addressed quickly in November 1944 with a double-baffle Muzzle brake.
The Jackson was capable of taking down even the biggest German tanks, but two notable kills stand out. Corporal Anthony Pinto destroyed a Panther from 4,200 yards away, and another Panther was knocked out by Lt. Alfred Rose from a distance of 4,600 yards, and incredible shot that was literally at the limits of his telescopic sight.