British and Soviet forces receive reinforcements this week, with the arrival of the Valentine II infantry tank.
The Valentine was designed as a private venture by the famed vehicle designer Sir John Carden (hence the lack of the Army ‘A’ number). Although the British government chose to go with the A12 Matilda II as it’s main infantry tank the Valentine would also be a useful addition to the arsenal of the British Commonwealth as it utilised many of the existing parts of the A9 and A10 cruiser tanks along with drastically increased it’s armour thickness. This made it a cost effective solution to Britain’s need for more infantry tanks.
This version of the Valentine tank is the Mk II, which appeared in 1941 and of which around 700 were built. Armed with the QF 2-pounder gun in a two man turret, its low silhouette made it less of an easy target for enemy gunners – especially when compared to the taller US tanks such as the M3 Lee and M4 Sherman. The Valentine was a very dependable tank, easily capable of running 500 miles without much maintenance – Valentines of VII Royal Tank Regiment crossed 3000 miles of desert before arriving in Tunisia!
The Valentine was extensively used in the North African Campaign, earning a reputation as a reliable and well-protected vehicle. The first tanks in action were with the 8th Royal Tank Regiment in Operation Crusader.
Over 3,000 Valentines of various marks were sent to the Soviet Union under the lend-lease agreement. Soviet tank riders liked the Valentine for it’s low silhouette but the lack of a potent main armament and thin tracks which didn’t suit the Russian winter saw it relegated to second-line duties by 1944.
Of course, we have plenty more British tanks – here’s a selection: