The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank produced in the United Kingdom during the Second World War. More than 8,000 of the type were produced in 11 different marks plus various purpose-built variants, accounting for approximately a quarter of wartime British tank production. Over its lifetime it went from a riveted construction to entirely welded, and from a petrol powerplant to a safer, less ignitable, |two strokediesel engine produced by GMC. It was supplied to the USSR and built under license in Canada. Developed by Vickers, it proved to be both strong and reliable
Name[edit | edit source]
Several versions exist concerning the source of the name Valentine. The most popular one says that the design was presented to the War Office on St. Valentine's Day, 14 February 1940. Some sources claim that the exact date the design was submitted was 10 February. According to another version the tank was called Valentine in honour of Sir John Valentine Carden, the man who led the development of the A10 and many other Vickers vehicles. Yet another version says that Valentine is an acronym for Vickers-Armstrong Ltd Elswick & (Newcastle-upon) Tyne.
History[edit | edit source]
Based on the A10 Cruiser tank, the Valentine was privately designed by Vickers-Armstrongs (hence its lack of a General Staff "A" designation) and was submitted to the War Office on 10 February 1938. The development team tried to combine the weight of a cruiser tank (so that suspension and transmission parts of the A10 could be used) with the greater armour of an infantry tank, which resulted in a very small vehicle with a cramped interior and two-man turret. Though its armour was still weaker than the Infantry Tank II Matilda and, due to a weaker engine, it shared the same top speed, the new design was easier to produce and much less expensive.
The War Office was initially deterred by the size of the turret and the crew compartment.[Clarification needed]
Concerned by the situation in Europe, however, it finally approved the design in April, 1939. The vehicle reached trials in May, 1940, which coincided with the loss of nearly all of Britain's equipment during the evacuation at Dunkirk. The trials were successful and the vehicle was rushed into production as Infantry Tank III Valentine.
The Valentine remained in production until April 1944, becoming Britain's most produced tank during the war with 6,855 units manufactured in the UK (by Vickers, Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage and Wagon and Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon), and a further 1,420 in Canada. They were the Commonwealth's main export to the Soviet Union under the Lend-lease Act, with 2,394 of the British models being sent and 1,388 of the Canadian Pacific built models, and the remaining 30 being kept for training.
Combat history[edit | edit source]
The tank first saw combat during Operation Crusader in the North African desert, at which point it began to replace the Matilda. It was extensively used in the North African Campaign, earning a reputation as a reliable and well protected vehicle. The Valentine shared the common weakness of the British tanks of the period - its 2-pounder gun lacked high-explosive capability and soon became outdated as an anti-tank weapon too. The small size of the turret and of the turret ring made mounting larger guns a difficult task. Although versions with the 6-pounder and then with the Ordnance QF 75 mm gun were developed, by the time they were available in significant numbers better tanks had reached the battlefield. Another weakness was small crew compartment and two-man turret. A larger turret with a loader position added was used in some of the 2-pounder armed versions, but the position had to be removed again in variants with larger guns.
By 1944 the Valentine was almost completely replaced in front-line units of the European Theatre by the Infantry Tank IV Churchill and the US-made Sherman. In the Pacific the tank was employed in limited numbers at least until May 1945. It was used in New Zealand service, some with the main armament replaced by the 3 inch howitzer taken from Australian Matilda CS tanks., on the Solomons in 1943.
In Soviet service the Valentine was used from the Battle of Moscow until the end of the war. Although criticized for its speed and its weak gun, the Valentine was liked due to its small size, reliability, and generally good armour protection.
Variants[edit | edit source]
- Valentine I (Tank, Infantry, Mk III)
- (350 units produced)
The first model of the Valentine, it was not sent out due to problems from rushed production. The tank had riveted hull, was powered by AEC A189 135 hp petrol engine and equipped with a 2 pdr. gun and a coaxial Besa machine gun. Its two-man turret forced the commander to also act as the gun-loader.
- Valentine II (Tank, Infantry, Mk III*)
This model used AEC A190 131 hp diesel engine. In order to increase its range, an auxiliary external fuel tank was installed to the left of the engine compartment.
- Valentine III
A larger turret was installed, allowing the addition of a dedicated loader to ease the duties of the commander. The side armour was reduced from 60 mm to 50 mm to save weight.
- Valentine IV
A Mark II using an American 138 hp GMC 6004 diesel engine and US-made transmission. Though it had slightly lower range, it was quieter and more reliable.
- Valentine V
Valentine III with the GMC 6004 diesel engine and US-made transmission.
- Valentine VI
Canadian-built version of IV. It used some Canadian and American mechanical parts. Late production vehicles had cast glacis detail. First few produced with a 7.92 mm Besa coaxial machinegun, but soon replaced with a 0.30 inch Browning coaxial machinegun.
- Valentine VII
Another Canadian version, it was essentially VI with internal changes, and a different radio set.
- Valentine VIIA
Mark VII with jettisonable fuel tanks, new studded tracks and protected headlights.
- Valentine VIII
A III upgraded with the QF 6 pounder gun. In order to fit it, the coaxial machinegun and the loader crewmember had to be removed. The side armour was reduced again. Crews came up with a novel way of using a machinegun from inside the hull by fitting a solenoid-fired Browning MG into a 6-pdr shell-case. When needed, this was inserted into the 6-pdr breech and the solenoid cable connected up, allowing the gunner to aim it using the main gun elevating gear, traverse and telescope.
- Valentine IX
A V upgraded to the 6 pdr gun. Similar armour reduction as the VIII. On late production units an upgraded, 165 hp version of the GMC 6004 diesel was installed, somewhat improving mobility.
- Valentine X
A new turret design and 165 hp engine. A Besa coaxial machinegun was fitted again. Welded construction.
- Valentine XI
An X upgraded with the OQF 75 mm gun and 210 hp version of the GMC 6004 diesel. Welded construction. Only served as a command tank.
- Valentine DD
- Valentine OP / Command
Observation Post / command version with extra radios. To give more space inside the gun was replaced with a dummy.
- Valentine CDL
A continuation of the Canal Defence Light experiments. The conventional turret was replaced with one containing a searchlight.
- Valentine Scorpion II
Mine exploder, turretless with flail attachment. Never used operationally.
- Valentine AMRA Mk Ib
Mine exploder with Amoured Mine Roller Attachment. Never used operationally.
- Valentine Snake
Mine exploder, using Snake mine clearing equipment. Few used operationally.
- Valentine Bridgelayer
An armoured bridgelaying vehicle; a turretless Mk II fitted with 34 ft x 9.5 ft Class 30 scissors bridge. Several dozens were produced, some of them supplied to the USSR.
- Valentine with 6pdr anti-tank mounting
Experimental vehicle built by Vickers-Armstrong to examine possibility of producing a simple tank destroyer by mounting the 6pdr in its field carriage on hull in place of turret. Trials only, 1942.
- Valentine Flamethrowers
Two Valentine tanks were modified to carry flamethrowers. These were tested by the Petroleum Warfare Department to determine which system was best for a tank-mounted flame projector. One used a projector ignited by cordite charges and one used projector operated by gas pressure. The fuel was carried in a trailer and the flame projector was mounted on the hull front. Trials started in 1942 and it showed that gas-operated system was better. From this test installation was developed the Crocodile equipment for the Churchill Crocodile flamethrower used in the North West Europe campaign in 1944-45.
- Valentine 7.92in flame mortar
Experimental vehicle with turret replaced by fixed heavy mortar intended to project 25 lb TNT incendiary shells to demolish concrete emplacements. Trials only by Petroleum Warfare Dept, 1943-45. Maximum range of this weapon was 2,000 yards and effective range was 400 yards.
Operators[edit | edit source]
- Canada: built 1420 tanks, 30 were left in Canada for training purposes the rest was sent to the Soviet Union:
- New Zealand:
- Soviet Union through: Lend-Lease received 2394 British built and 1390 Canadian built tanks
- United Kingdom:
Vehicles based on chassis[edit | edit source]
- SP 17pdr, Valentine, Mk I, Archer
- Carrier, Valentine, 25pdr gun Mk I, Bishop
- Tank, Infantry, Valiant (A38)
Surviving tanks[edit | edit source]
Valentines are displayed at Bovington Tank Museum and Imperial War Museum Duxford in the UK; Brussels Tank Museum, Belgium; Musée des Blindés, Saumur, France; Kubinka Tank Museum, Russia; National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, South Africa; Armoured Corps Museum, Ahmednagar, India and Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles, USA. Further Valentines are held in private collections.
Two Canadian-built Valentines survive. Valentine Tank Mk VIIA, no. 838, built May 1943, was a Lend-Lease tank shipped to the Soviet Union. It fell through the ice of a boggy river near Telepino (Telepyne, Ukraine), during a Soviet counter-offensive on January 25, 1944. In 1990, a 74-year old villager helped locate the tank, and it was recovered and offered as a Glasnost-era gift to Canada. It was presented to the Canadian War Museum by independent Ukraine in 1992, and stands on display in the LeBreton Gallery.
At least one Valentine exists in around 10 metres of water in Bracklesham Bay, south of Chichester in West Sussex. The hull and turret are clearly recognizable as it sits on a gravel mound. The remains of the tank used to be regularly dived by various diving clubs in the area. There are also two Valentine DD tanks 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometres) out of Poole Bay in Dorset. These tanks are 100 metres apart under 15 metres of water. They were part of the amphibious experiments during World War II to enable them to be launched into the water farther from the beach. There are also believed to be another five tanks sunk in the same area, and divers from the Isle of Purbeck Sub Aqua Club are involved in an ongoing search to find their location.
The remains of a Valentine Mk V (NZ20767), operated by the Waikato Armoured Regiment at Waiouru in the late 1950s, are now in a children's playground in Ohakune, New Zealand. A further Valentine is in running order at MOTAT in Western Springs, Auckland, New Zealand. There is also one in running order in private hands based in hamilton. one none running Valentine is set up at the gate of the Hamilton Territorial base
See also[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Fred Gaffen ed., Canadian Valentine Tank MK VIIA, Canadian War Museum Fact Sheet No. 5.
References[edit | edit source]
- M. Baryatinskiy - Valentine Infantry Tank, Modelist-Konstruktor, Bronekollektsiya 05-2002 (М. Барятинский - Пехотный танк Валентайн, Моделист-Конструктор, Бронеколлекция 05-2002).
- Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis - British and American Tanks of World War Two 2004.
[edit | edit source]
- Valentine production and performance data
- WWII Vehicles
- OnWar (Valentine II)
- Valentines in New Zealand, Pacific Islands
- Photo galleries at ww2photo.mimerswell.com: Valentine, Specialist variants
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