The Valentine tank was first submitted as a design to the War Office by Leslie Little of Vickers Armstrong in February 1938. His design used the same chassis, suspension, engine and transmission as the A10 Cruiser tank. The design was changed to take a lower more heavily armoured superstructure and a new turret armed with a 2pdr.
As the tank was submitted just prior to St. Valentine’s Day it was decided to call the tank the Valentine.
The first production model rolled off the lines and was delivered to the army in May 1940, but these first 275 were fitted with a small 2-man turret (Valentine I) that was considered below par, and work was begun on a larger 3-man turret to improve combat efficiency.
The first 3-man turret version of the Valentine was the Mk III. It included a loader in addition to the commander and gunner.
The driver’s position was in the middle of the front of the hull. Access was via a hatch above his head. When closed down his vision was through two episcopes and a small visor.
The commander had only a single episcope to look out of when the hatch was closed. The radio set was mounted in the rear.
A total of 8275 Valentines were made during the war.
The Valentines first action was with the 8th Royal Tank Regiment of the 1st Army Tank Brigade at Capuzzo on November 22, 1941. They also took part in a night attack with the 2nd South African Division against Bardia fortress on January 1, 1942.
In the field their reliability was considered very high. Some Valentines were able to drive the 3,000 miles from El Alamein to Tunisia!
In Flames of War
The 26th Armoured Brigade were armed with Valentine IIIs and Crusader IIIs.
The Valentine IIIs, while only armed with the 2pdr, has plenty of armour (Front 6, Side 5, Top 1). Backed with some 75mm or 6pdr guns or tanks they will prove a tough nut to crack.
Though it’s a little slow (8”/20cm movement) it’s armour allows it to take its time.