Monday, 15 January 2018

Valentine tank variants Part Two 15/01/2018

Valentine Scorpion II

This was a mine exploder version which featured a hull with a flail attachment. This version never saw operational use




Valentine AMRA Mk.Ib

This was another mine exploder version with an Armoured Mine Roller Attachment. This version like the Scorpion was not used operationally. 


Valentine Snake

This was another mine exploder version using a "Snake" Mine clearing line charge. A few of these did see service operationally. 

Valentine Bridgelayer

This was an armoured bridgelayer based on the Mk.II hull and fitted with a 10 metre (34 foot) long by 2.90 metre (9ft 6 inch) wide Class 30 (capable of bearing 30 (long) tons (34 short tons) scissors bridge. Several dozen were built, and some were supplied to the Soviet Union. They were also used operationally in Italy, Burma and Northwest Europe. 


Valentine with 6-Pounder anti-tank mounting

This was an experimental version built by Vickers-Armstrong to examine the possibility of building a tank-destroyer, by mounting a 6-Pounder gun with its field carriage on the tanks hull in place of the turret.
It was used for trials only during 1942 and was not required as the Valentine could be fitted with a 6-Pounder gun in the turret.

Valentine flame-throwers

Two Valentine tanks were converted to carry flame-throwers and were tested by the Petroleum Warfare Department to determine which system was best for a tank-mounted flame projector. One of the tanks used a flame projector which was pressurised by slow burning cordite charges which had been designed by the Ministry of Supply. The other version used a flame projector which had been designed by AEC with the Petroleum Warfare Department using a flame projector which was operated by compressed hydrogen gas. Both tanks towed flame-thrower fuel in a trailer and the flame projector was mounted on the hull front. 
Trials began in 1942 and the trials had shown that the gas-operated system was better. From these two experimental tanks was developed the Crocodile equipment for the Churchill Crocodile flame-thrower, which saw operational use in Northwestern Europe campaign of 1944-1945.



Valentine 9.75-inch flame mortar

This was an experimental tank which had the turret replaced by a fixed heavy mortar, which was intended to fire 25Ib TNT Incendiary shells to demolish concrete emplacements.
The weapon had an effective range of 400 yards and a maximum range of 2,000 yards. The tank was used for trials only.


Burmark

This was an "ARK" (Armoured Ramp Carrier) design on a Valentine hull with a requirement for a light ramp tank to be used in the Far East theatre, but the war ended before the tank could be further developed. 

Gap jumping tank

This was an experimental tank fitted with rockets so as to propel the tank across an obstacle such as a minefield. 



And to finish here's an oddity based on the Valentine. This version used a Jet engine, and was another mine clearing experiment. The Jet engine was used to detonate Anti-Tank and Anti-Personnel mines. 


Bishop SPG

This was a Self-Propelled Gun based on the Valentine and armed with a 25-Pounder field gun in a box turret. The Bishop was only built in small numbers (149) and was soon replaced by more modern vehicles. 
The Bishop first saw operational service at the Battle of El Alamein, and remained in service to the Italian campaign. The Bishop was replaced by the M7 Priest. 


Archer tank-destroyer

This the first fully indigenous British tank-hunter of World War Two, and was based on the Valentine mounting a 17-Pounder OQF gun. It was designed and built by Vickers-Armstrong with 655 being produced between March, 1943 and May, 1945. The Archer saw service in both the North-West European theatre and the Italian campaign. The Archer was used Post-war by the Egyptians. The vehicle was unique for its gun being mounted facing the rear of the chassis instead of the front.











Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Valentine Tank and variants of Part One 14/01/2018

The Valentine, or to give it its proper designation: Tank, Infantry Mark.III, Valentine. Was a British built tank, with more than 8,000 being produced in eleven marks and dedicated specialist tanks, which accounted for nearly a quarter of wartime Tank production.
Most variants were of riveted and welded construction with a variety of diesel and petrol engines. And also with improvements in armament.
The Valentine saw service with British as well as Commonwealth forces as well as the Soviet Union who received 2,394 of British built tanks, and 1,390 of Canadian built tanks.
Developed by Vickers-Armstrong, the Valentine proved to be a reliable and strong tank.

Origin of the name

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 V. Carden, the man who was responsible for many tank designs including that of the Valentine's predecessors, the A10 and A11. Another version says that Valentine is an acronym for Vickers-Armstrong Ltd Elswick & Newcastle Upon-Tyne The "most prosaic" explanation according to David Fletcher (noted Tank historian) is that it was just an in-house code word of Vickers with no other significance. 

The Valentine first saw action during the North African campaign with the 8th Royal Tank Regiment. 
By 1944 the Valentine had been replaced by the Churchill tank and the M4 Medium tank (Sherman), although a few Valentines were still being used as command vehicles for units which had been equipped with the Archer self-propelled gun. 
In the Pacific, the Valentine served with the 3rd New Zealand Division in the south-west Pacific campaign. Trials in New Zealand had shown that the 2-Pounder lacked any "punch", especially when compared to the 18-Pounder shell of the 3-Inch howitzer, so 18 Valentine's were converted to Valentine Mk.III CS armed with a 3-Inch howitzer, which had been taken Matilda Mk.IVCS, which had become surplus to requirements. Other modifications to the New Zealand versions were Infantry telephones (so the infantry commander could talk to the tank commander). These tanks also carried 21 HE shells and 14 smoke shells. The other nine 3-inch armed tanks and 16 standard  Valentine's remained in New Zealand for training and were retired from New Zealand service in 1960. 
The Valentine saw service with the Soviet Union from the Battle of Moscow until the end of the war. Although the Soviets criticized the tank for its slow speed and weak firepower, but was praised for its small size, reliability and good armour protection. 
The Valentine last saw combat is said to have occurred during the Cypriot intercommunal violence of the early 1960's. 

Variants

Valentine Mk.I (Tank, Infantry Mark.III) (308  built)

This was the initial version of the Valentine, and was not used in action due to problems from being rushed into production. Vickers, Metro-Cammell and Birmingham Railway all produced the Mark.I. This version had a riveted hull and was powered by an AEC A189 135hp petrol engine and was armed with a 2-Pounder main gun and 7.92 Besa co-axial machine-gun. The two-man turret meant that the tank commander also doubled as a loader for the main gun. 

Valentine Mk.II (Tank, Infantry Mark.III*) (700 built)

This version was powered by an AEC A190 131hp 6-Cylinder diesel engine. And to increase its range, an auxiliary fuel tank  was installed to the left of the engine compartment.




Valentine Mk.III 

This version featured modifications to the turret by moving the frontal turret plate forward and a larger rear bulge or bustle, which increased the room for the loader and to ease the duties of the commander as a loader. The side armour was also reduced from 60mm to 50mm to save weight. 



Valentine IIICS

This was a local modification by New Zealand on eighteen Valentine IIIs by removing the 2-Pounder gun and replacing it with a 3-inch howitzer from Matilda IVCS tanks which hd become surplus to requirements.

Valentine IV

This was basically a Valentine Mk.II but powered by an American 138hp GMC 6004 diesel engine and a US-made transmission. Although it had a slightly reduced range it was quieter and more reliable.

Valentine V

This was a Valentine III but powered by a GMC 6004 diesel engine and US-made transmission.  

Valentine VI

This was a Canadian built version of the Valentine Mk.IV, and was initially known as the Tank, Infantry Mark III***. It also used Canadian and American mechanical parts and was powered by a GMC diesel engine. Late production versions featured a cast glacis as well as more use of cast sections instead of fabricated ones. The first fifteen Mk.VI's had Besa 7.92mm co-axial machine-guns, and from the sixteenth tank had 0.30-inch Browning machine-guns. 30 were retained in Canada for training, with the remainder going to the Soviet Union.



Valentine VII

This was another Canadian built version, which was essentially a Mk.VI, but with internal changes and a No.19 wireless which replaced the No.11 set. 

Valentine VIIA

This was a Mk.VII with jettisonable fuel tanks, new studded tracks, oil cooler and protected head lights. 

Valentine VIII

This version featured an AEC diesel engine and modifications to the turret to take a 6-Pounder gun. The co-axial machine-gun was also deleted. 

Valentine IX

This was a Mk.V which had been upgraded to take the 6-Pounder gun. It also featured reduced armour thickness. On late production versions of the Mk.IX an upgraded 165hp version of the GMC 6004 diesel engine was installed which improved the tanks mobility.



Valentine X

This version introduced a new design of turret which meant that the Besa co-axial machine-gun could again be fitted. This version was also of welded construction. Also some versions were powered by the 165hp GMC diesel engine, and some were powered by the 130hp engine. 

Valentine XI

This was an upgraded version of the Mk.X, and was armed with a OQF 75mm gun and was powered by a 210hp version of the GMC 6004 diesel engine. It was also of welded construction, and the Canadian cast nose which had been introduced into British construction.
This version only saw use as a command tank. 



Valentine DD

These tanks were based on Mk.V, IX and XI and made use of Nicholas Straussler's "Duplex Drive". These conversions were carried out by Metro-Cammell, and 625 tanks were delivered  during 1943 and 1944. They were only used for training crews for the M4 DD tanks for the Normandy Invasion as well as training in Italy and India. A few were used in Italy in 1945.



Valentine OP/Command

These were Artillery Observation Post (AOP) and Command versions equipped with extra radios. So as to give more space in the turret, the gun was removed and a dummy barrel was fitted to the front of the turret. 

Valentine CDL

A continuation of the Canal Defence Light experiments with the turret being replaced with one containing a powerful searchlight.

To be continued.............................








Monday, 20 November 2017

Battle of Cambrai November 20-December 7, 1917

On this day 100 years ago the Battle of Cambrai began (November 20-December 7, 1917), and was an Allied attack followed by the biggest German counter-attack against the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) since 1914, in the First World War. Cambrai, in the d├ępartement of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, was an important supply point for the German Siegfriedstellung (known to the British as the Hindenburg Line) and capture of the town and the nearby Bourlon Ridge would threaten the rear of the German line to the north. The massed attack of 476 Mark IV tanks of the Royal Tank Regiment punched a gap 19km (12 miles) wide and 6km (4 miles) deep into the Hindenburg Line at Cambrai. This breakthrough was in conjunction with an artillery barrage, and it was the first time that the tank had played a dominant role (although the tank had made its combat debut on September 15, 1916, when 32 tanks were employed along a five-mile front).
American troops played a slight role in the fighting on 30 November, when a detachment of the 11th Engineer (Railway) Regiment, working on construction's behind British lines dug reserve trenches at Fins; they were later engaged in combat and had 28 casualties
Of the 476 tanks which had taken part in the breakthrough at Cambrai, 179 were lost. The breakthrough may have been decisive if the supporting infantry (tanks can't move without infantry support) had not stopped to reduce each strongpoint in turn, instead of driving ahead in depth. The attack petered out into a stalemate, and the German's sealed the breach in their line.Some accounts claim five were knocked out by an artillery officer, Theodor Kr├╝ger Feld Artillerie Regiment 108. Field Marshal Haig's dispatch praised the gunner's bravery in his diary.
When the Battle of Cambrai ended on December 7, 1917 the Allies had suffered 44,000 casualties, and the German's 45,000.





Monday, 13 November 2017

If German armour was so good why did they lose the War?

This is a question I've been asked a few times. Well the answer is that the German's sacrificed speed for armour and armament. Unlike the Allies who sacrificed armour and armament for speed. Also the Allies built in quantity, so it was a case of quantity over quality. The two most mass-produced Tanks the Allies fielded during WW2 were the T34 and the M4 Sherman, of which 84,070 were built of the former and 49,234 were built of the latter. Whereas the German's didn't build in such quantity, as their most mass produced tank of the war, the PzKpfw IV only 8,553 of all variants were built. And the Tiger I, the most feared German tank of the war only 1,347 were built. And the King Tiger or Tiger II only 492 were built.
Another reason the German's lost the war was because they were overstretched and the Allies could afford to replace their armoured vehicles which had been lost, whereas the German's couldn't, so it was definitely a case of quantity over quality. Also another reason was that the Allied bombing offensive of the war also put a serious delay on Tank production in Germany. It was only until May, 1945 that the British got a decent Tank which could have squared up to the Tiger and King Tiger on an equal footing and that was the A41 Centurion (4,423 built), which were deployed too late to see any action during WW2. And the only Tank that the US Army equal to the Tiger and King Tiger was the M26 Pershing (2,212 built), and only 20 M26s were deployed to the European theatre as part of the Zebra Mission (a program to get newly developed weapons into combat situations). The 20 M26s fielded during the Zebra Mission were T26E3s (early development versions of the M26).

© Darren Greenwood 2017

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Hello and welcome.

Hello and welcome to this new blog where I shall endeavor to tell the history of military vehicles from WW1 to the present day. I don't claim to be knowledgeable as Mr David Fletcher or Steven Zaloga. I'm just an amateur historian who does in depth research for my model builds as I find research the best bit of any model I build. I also enjoy finding out the subject as I build it. Anyway enough waffling and please enjoy my blog.