|Tank, Infantry, Valentine, Mk I–XI|
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|Used by||British Army, Red Army, New Zealand Army|
|Wars||World War II|
1948 Arab–Israeli War
Cyprus crisis of 1963–64
|Manufacturer||Vickers-Armstrongs and others|
|No. built||8,275 (6,855 built in UK and 1,420 in Canada)|
|Mass||about 16 long tons (16 t)|
|Length||hull: 17 ft 9 in (5.41 m)|
|Width||8 ft 7.5 in (2.629 m)|
|Height||7 ft 5.5 in (2.273 m)|
|Crew||Mk I, II, IV, VI–XI: 3 (Commander, gunner, driver)|
Mk III, V: 4 (+ loader)
|Armour||0.31–2.56 in (8–65 mm)|
|Mk I–VII: QF 2-pounder (40 mm)|
Mk VIII–X: QF 6-pounder (57 mm)
Mk XI: QF 75 mm
Mk IIICS QF 3-inch (76 mm)
|Mk I–VII, X, XI: 7.92 mm BESA machine-gun with 3,150 rounds|
|Engine||Mk I: AEC A189 9.6 litre petrol|
Mk II, III, VI: AEC A190 diesel
Mk IV, V, VII–XI: GMC 6004 diesel
131–210 hp (97–157 kW)
|Power/weight||12.4 hp (9.2 kW) / tonne|
|Transmission||Meadows Type 22 (5 speed and reverse)|
|Suspension||modified three-wheel Horstmann suspension "Slow Motion"|
|Fuel capacity||36 gallons internal|
|90 mi (140 km) on roads|
|Maximum speed||15 mph (24 km/h) on roads|
|clutch and brake|
The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank produced in the United Kingdom during World War II. More than 8,000 of the type were produced in eleven marks, plus various specialised variants, accounting for approximately a quarter of wartime British tank production. The many variants included riveted and welded construction, petrol and diesel engines and a progressive increase in armament. It was supplied in large numbers to the USSR and built under licence in Canada. It was used extensively by the British in the North African campaign. Developed by Vickers, it proved to be both strong and reliable.
There are several proposed explanations for the name Valentine. According to the most popular one, the design was presented to the War Office on St Valentine's Day, 14 February 1940, although some sources say that the design was submitted on Valentine's Day 1938 or 10 February 1938. White notes that "incidentally" Valentine was the middle name of Sir John Carden, the man who was responsible for many tank designs including that of the Valentine's predecessors, the A10 and A11.[a] Another version says that Valentine is an acronym for Vickers-Armstrongs Limited Elswick & (Newcastle-upon) Tyne. The "most prosaic" explanation according to author David Fletcher is that it was just an in-house codeword of Vickers with no other significance.
The Valentine started as a proposal based on Vickers' experience with the A9 and A10 specification cruiser tanks and the A11 (Infantry Tank Mk I). As a private design by Vickers-Armstrongs, it did not receive a General Staff "A" designation; it was submitted to the War Office on 10 February 1938. The development team tried to match the lower weight of a cruiser tank, allowing the suspension and transmission parts of the A10 heavy cruiser to be used, with the greater armour of an infantry tank, working to a specification for a 60 mm (2.4 in) armour basis (the same as the A.11).[b]
The tank was to carry a 2-pounder gun in a two-man turret (the A.11 was armed only with a heavy machine gun), a lower silhouette and be as light as possible, resulting in a very compact vehicle with a cramped interior. Compared to the earlier Infantry Tank Mk II "Matilda", the Valentine had somewhat weaker armour and almost the same top speed. By using components already proven on the A9 and A10, the new design was easier to produce and much less expensive.
The War Office was initially deterred by the size of the turret, since they considered a turret crew of three necessary, to free the vehicle commander from direct involvement in operating the gun. Concerned by the situation in Europe, it finally approved the design in April 1939 and placed the first order in July for deliveries in May 1940. At the start of the war, Vickers were instructed to give priority to the production of tanks. The vehicle reached trials in May 1940, which coincided with the loss of much of the army's equipment in France, during Operation Dynamo, the evacuation from Dunkirk. The trials were successful and the vehicle was rushed into production as "Tank, Infantry, Mark III"; no pilot models were required as much of the mechanics had been proven on the A10, and 109 had been built by the end of September. During late 1940 and early 1941, Valentines were used in the cruiser tank role in British-based armoured divisions, and they were supplied to tank brigades of the Eighth Army in North Africa from June 1941.
Main article: British armoured fighting vehicle production during World War II
Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage & Wagon—an associate company of Vickers—and Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company (BRCW) were contracted to produce the Valentine. Metropolitan and the BRCW had built small numbers of the A10, their production runs were just finishing and they delivered their first Valentines in mid-1940. Metropolitan used two sites, with Wednesbury joined by their Midland site in production of the Valentine. Vickers output started at ten per month rising to 45 per month in a year and peaking at 20 per week in 1943, before production was slowed and then production of the Valentine and derivatives stopped in 1945. Vickers-Armstrong produced 2,515 vehicles and Metropolitan 2,135; total UK production was 6,855 tanks, with 2,394 exported from Britain to the Soviet Union under lend-lease.
To develop its own tank forces, Canada had established tank production facilities. An order was placed in 1940 with Canadian Pacific and after modifications to the Valentine design to use local standards and materials, the production prototype was finished in 1941. Canadian production was mainly at CPR Angus Shops in Montreal and 1,420 were produced in Canada, of which 1,388 were sent to the Soviet-Union. They formed the main Commonwealth export to the Soviet Union under lend-lease. The remaining 32 were retained for training. The use of local GMC Detroit Diesel two-stroke engines in Canadian production was a success and the engine was adopted for British production. British and Canadian production totalled 8,275, making the Valentine the most produced British tank design of the war.
The Valentine was of conventional layout, divided internally into three compartments; from front to back the driver's position, the fighting compartment with the turret and then the engine and transmission driving the tracks through rear sprockets. The driver's area contained only the driver and the driving controls. The driver sat on hull centre line, entering through either of two angled hatches over the seat, though there was an emergency exit hatch beneath his seat. The driver had a direct vision port—cut in what was one of the hull cross members—in front of him and two periscopes in the roof over his head. Driving was by clutch and brake steering through levers, whose control rods ran the length of the hull to the transmission at the rear.
Behind the driver was a bulkhead that formed another hull cross-member and separated him from the fighting compartment. The first tanks had a two-man turret, the gunner on the left of the gun and the commander acting also as the loader on the right. When three-man turrets were introduced, the commander sat to the rear of the turret. The turret was made up of a cast front and a cast rear riveted to the side plates which were of rolled steel. All tanks carried the radio in the turret rear. Early tanks used the Wireless set No. 11 with a Tannoy for the crew; later tanks had Wireless Set No. 19, which included crew communications with long and short range networks.
Turret rotation was by electric motor controlled by the gunner, with a hand-wheel for manual backup. The restrictions that the two-man turret placed on the commander, made more so if they were a troop commander and responsible for directing the actions of two other tanks besides their own, were addressed by enlarging the turret for the Mark III so that a loader for the main armament could be carried. The turret ring diameter was not changed, so the extra space was found by moving the gun mounting forward in an extended front plate and increasing the bulge in the rear of the turret. This increased weight by half a ton on the 2.5 long tons (2.5 t) two-man turret.
A bulkhead separated the fighting compartment from the engine compartment. The engine, clutch and gearbox were bolted together to form a single unit. The first Valentines used a petrol engine and the diesel engine which distinguished the Mark II—at the time Tank Infantry Mark III*— from the Mark I, was based on the AEC Comet, a commercial road vehicle engine. The Mark IV used a GMC Detroit Diesel; these were the majority of those used in the desert campaigns. The gearbox was a 5-speed, 1-reverse Meadows connected to the multiplate steering clutches which then fed epicyclic reduction gearboxes on the sides of the tanks. The brakes themselves were on the outside of the drive sprockets. The suspension was made up of two units on either side; each unit made up of a single 24 in (0.61 m) diameter wheel and two 19+1⁄2 in (0.50 m) wheels. Improved tracks were added to later marks.
The Valentine was extensively used in the North African Campaign, earning a reputation as a reliable and well-protected vehicle. The first Valentines went into action in December 1941 with the 8th Royal Tank Regiment in Operation Crusader. The tank first served in Operation Crusader in the North African desert, when it began to replace the Matilda Tank. Due to a lack of cruisers, it was issued to armoured regiments in the UK from mid-1941. The Valentine was better armed and faster than the Cruiser Mk II. During the pursuit from El Alamein in late 1942, some tanks had driven more than 3,000 miles (4,800 km) by the time the Eighth Army reached Tunisia.
The Valentine shared the common weakness of the British tanks of the period in that its 2-pounder gun lacked high-explosive (anti-personnel) ammunition and soon became outdated as an anti-tank weapon. Introduction of the 6-pounder in British service was delayed until the loss of equipment in France had been made good, so the 2-pounder was retained longer.
The small size of the turret and of the turret ring meant that producing mountings for larger guns proved 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 the small crew compartment and the two-man turret. A larger turret, with a loader position added, was used in some of the 2-pounder versions but the position had to be removed again in variants with larger guns. Its relatively low height was an advantage in a battlefield with little cover, allowing it to take up a "good hull-down position in any convenient fold in the ground".
Six Valentines of 'B' Special Service Squadron of the Royal Armoured Corps took part in the 1942 Battle of Madagascar with six Tetrarchs of 'C' Special Service Squadron.
By 1944, the Valentine had been almost replaced in front-line units of the European theatre by the Churchill tank (the Infantry Tank Mark IV) and the US-made M4 Sherman tank. A few were used for special purposes or as command vehicles for units equipped with the Archer self-propelled gun. The Royal Artillery used the Valentine XI (with 75 mm gun) as an OP command tank until the end of the war.
In the Pacific War, 25 Valentine Mk III and nine Valentine Mk IIICS tanks were employed by the 3rd New Zealand Division in the south-west Pacific campaign. Trials in New Zealand had found that the locally developed 2 pounder HE shell lacked power, especially compared to the 18-pounder shell of the 3-inch howitzer, so 18 Valentine Mk III were converted to Valentine Mk IIICS standard by having their main armament replaced by the QF 3-inch howitzer taken from Matilda Mk IVCS tanks, surplus to New Zealand requirements. Other modifications to the nine Valentine Mk IIICS tanks deploying to the Pacific included Infantry telephones (a means for infantry to talk to the tank commander). The converted tanks carried 21 HE and 14 smoke shells. The other nine 3-inch armed tanks and 16 normal Valentines (with 2-pounder guns) remained in New Zealand for training. The Valentine was retired from New Zealand service in 1960.
Valentines, of most all Marks except the Mark I, were sent to the USSR from 1941. The creation of Valentines tanks destined for use by the Soviet Union was a part of a campaign known as Aid to Russia Fund, headed by Clementine Churchill and heavily supported by the Communist Party of Great Britain. In Soviet service, the Valentine was used from the Battle of Moscow until the end of the war, mainly in the second line. Although criticised for its low speed and the 2-pounder gun, the Valentine was liked due to its small size, reliability and good armour protection. Initially the tracks gave some problems in winter; from freezing down to minus 20, snow packed into the tracks, though at below minus 20 it was not a problem. The problem was later solved.
Soviet Supreme Command asked for its production until the end of the war. In August 1945, as part of the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, the 267th Tank Regiment (40 Valentine III and IX) of the 59th Cavalry Division Red Army, together with the 65th T-34-85 43rd Tank Brigade, passed from Eastern Gobi across the mountains Greater Khingan to Kalgan in China.
The last use of a Valentine in combat is thought to have occurred during the Cyprus crisis of 1963–64. A turretless Valentine from a quarry was used by Greek militia, fitted with an improvised armoured casemate from which a gunner could fire a Bren gun. The vehicle is owned by the Cypriot National Guard, who intend to place it in a proposed new military museum.
Valentine I (Tank, Infantry, Mk III): (308)
Valentine II (Tank, Infantry, Mk III*): (700)
Valentine IIICS (Close Support)
Valentine OP / Command
Valentine Scorpion II
Valentine AMRA Mk Ib
Valentine with 6-pounder anti-tank mounting
Valentine 9.75-inch flame mortar
Gap Jumping Tank
Around forty Valentine tanks and vehicles based on the Valentine chassis survive. Tanks in running condition are at the Bovington Tank Museum (Mark IX) and in private hands in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The Bovington collection has a Mark II and a Valentine Scissors Bridgelayer. Other examples are displayed at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in the UK; the Royal Military Museum in Brussels, Belgium; the Musée des Blindés, Saumur, France and the Kubinka Tank Museum, Russia; the South African National Museum of Military History. In the United States, the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation and the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles own Valentines.
The Cavalry Tank Museum Ahmednagar, India have a Valentine Tank and a Valentine Bridgelayer.
A number of Valentine hulls are in private ownership in Australia, including one in the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum. These were sent there after the war for use as agricultural vehicles.
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 Telepyne, Ukraine (Russian: Telepino), during a Soviet counter-offensive on 25 January 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. A Valentine built by Canadian Pacific resides at the Base Borden Military Museum in Barrie, Ontario.
A notable survivor is the only intact DD Valentine. This has been restored to running condition and is in the United Kingdom, privately owned by John Pearson. A number of DD Valentines that sank during training lie off the British coast; several have been located and are regularly visited by recreational divers. Two Valentines lie in the Moray Firth in Scotland and two lie 3.5 miles (5.6 km) out of Poole Bay in Dorset. These tanks lie 100 m (110 yd) apart in 15 m (49 ft) of water. A further tank is known to lie in around 10 m (11 yd) of water in Bracklesham Bay, south of Chichester in West Sussex; the hull and turret are clearly recognisable as it sits on a gravel mound.
In October 2012, a Valentine Mk IX tank that fell through ice while crossing a river in western Poland during the Soviet Army's march to Berlin was recovered. This, the only surviving Valentine Mk IX to have actually seen combat, is reportedly well preserved and could possibly be restored to operational condition.