Valentine tank
The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank
Infantry tank
The infantry tank was a concept developed by the British and French in the years leading up to World War II. Infantry tanks were tanks designed to support the infantry in the attack. To achieve this they were generally heavily armoured compared to the cruiser tanks, to allow them to operate in...

 produced in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 during the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. 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 rivet
A rivet is a permanent mechanical fastener. Before being installed a rivet consists of a smooth cylindrical shaft with a head on one end. The end opposite the head is called the buck-tail. On installation the rivet is placed in a punched or pre-drilled hole, and the tail is upset, or bucked A rivet...

ed construction to entirely welded, and from a petrol powerplant to a two stroke diesel engine produced by GMC which was less likely to catch fire. It was supplied to the USSR and built under license in Canada. 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 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, who had died three years before. Another version says that Valentine is an acronym for Vickers-Armstrong Ltd Elswick
Elswick, Tyne and Wear
Elswick is a ward of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, in the western part of the city, bordering the river Tyne. One of the earliest references to the coal mining industry of the north east occurs in 1330, when it was recorded that the Prior of Tynemouth let a colliery, called Heygrove, at...

 & (Newcastle-upon) Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

. The "most prosaic" is that it was just an inhouse codeword of Vickers with no other significance.


Based on the A10 Cruiser tank
Cruiser Mk II
The Tank, Cruiser, Mk II , was developed alongside the A9, and was intended to be a heavier, infantry tank version of that type. In practice it was not deemed suitable for the infantry tank role and was classified as a "heavy cruiser"....

, the Valentine was privately designed by Vickers-Armstrongs (hence its lack of a General Staff "A" designation) and was submitted to the War Office
War Office
The War Office was a department of the British Government, responsible for the administration of the British Army between the 17th century and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence...

 on 10 February 1938. The development team tried to match the lower weight of a cruiser tank
Cruiser tank
The cruiser tank was a British tank concept of the inter-war period. This concept was the driving force behind several tank designs which saw action during the Second World War....

 - allowing the suspension and transmission parts of the A10 heavy cruiser to be used - with the greater armour
Vehicle armour
Military vehicles are commonly armoured to withstand the impact of shrapnel, bullets, missiles, or shells, protecting the personnel inside from enemy fire. Such vehicles include tanks, aircraft, and ships....

 of an infantry tank
Infantry tank
The infantry tank was a concept developed by the British and French in the years leading up to World War II. Infantry tanks were tanks designed to support the infantry in the attack. To achieve this they were generally heavily armoured compared to the cruiser tanks, to allow them to operate in...

. The result is a very compact vehicle with a cramped interior and two-man turret
In architecture, a turret is a small tower that projects vertically from the wall of a building such as a medieval castle. Turrets were used to provide a projecting defensive position allowing covering fire to the adjacent wall in the days of military fortification...

. Its armour was weaker than the Infantry Tank II Matilda
Matilda tank
The Infantry Tank Mark II known as the Matilda II was a British infantry tank of the Second World War. It was also identified from its General Staff Specification A12....

 but, due to a weaker engine, the lighter tank had the same top speed; however, 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, however, it finally approved the design in April 1939. The vehicle reached trials in May 1940, which coincided with the loss of much of Britain's materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

 in France during the evacuation at Dunkirk
Operation Dynamo
The Dunkirk evacuation, commonly known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo by the British, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and the early hours of 3 June 1940, because the British, French and Belgian troops were...

. The trials were successful and the vehicle was rushed into production as Infantry Tank III Valentine; no pilot models were required as much of the mechanics had been proven on the A10, and it entered service from July 1940.

The first Valentines used a petrol engine with conventional steering. The Mark II used a diesel version of the engine and the Mark IV a GMC diesel; these were the majority of those used in the desert campaigns. Improved tracks were added and the No. 19 Wireless replaced the No. 11.

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
Metro Cammell
The Metropolitan Cammell Carriage and Wagon Company was a Birmingham, England based manufacturer of railway carriages and wagons, based in Saltley and subsequently Washwood Heath....

 and Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon
Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company
The Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company was a railway locomotive and carriage builder, founded in Birmingham, England and, for most of its existence, located at nearby Smethwick, with the factory was divided by the boundary between the two places...

), and a further 1,420 in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. They were the Commonwealth's
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 main export to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 under the Lend-lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 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

The tank first served in Operation Crusader
Operation Crusader
Operation Crusader was a military operation by the British Eighth Army between 18 November–30 December 1941. The operation successfully relieved the 1941 Siege of Tobruk....

 in the North African desert, when it began to replace the Matilda Tank. It was extensively used in the North African Campaign
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

, 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 (anti-personnel) 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 the small crew compartment and the turret for only two men. 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.

By 1944 the Valentine had been almost completely replaced in front-line units of the European Theatre
European Theatre of World War II
The European Theatre of World War II was a huge area of heavy fighting across Europe from Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 until the end of the war with the German unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945...

 by the Infantry Tank IV Churchill
Churchill tank
The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV was a heavy British infantry tank used in the Second World War, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied tanks of the war...

 and the US-made Sherman
M4 Sherman
The M4 Sherman, formally Medium Tank, M4, was the primary tank used by the United States during World War II. Thousands were also distributed to the Allies, including the British Commonwealth and Soviet armies, via lend-lease...

. In the Pacific
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

 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
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, capital of...

 until the end of the war. Although criticized for its low speed and weak gun, the Valentine was liked due to its small size, reliability, and generally good armour protection.


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
Besa machine gun
The Besa Machine Gun was a British version of the Czechoslovak ZB-53 air-cooled, belt-fed machine-gun, which in the Czechoslovak army was marked as the TK vz. 37...

. Its two-man turret
In architecture, a turret is a small tower that projects vertically from the wall of a building such as a medieval castle. Turrets were used to provide a projecting defensive position allowing covering fire to the adjacent wall in the days of military fortification...

 forced the commander to also act as the gun-loader.
Valentine II (Tank, Infantry, Mk III*): (700)
This model used AEC A190 131 hp diesel engine
Diesel engine
A diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel, which is injected into the combustion chamber...

. 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 shorter 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
A glacis in military engineering is an artificial slope of earth used in late European fortresses so constructed as to keep any potential assailant under the fire of the defenders until the last possible moment...

 detail. First few produced with a 7.92 mm Besa coaxial machinegun, soon replaced by a 0.30 inch Browning coaxial machinegun.

Valentine VII
Another Canadian version, it was essentially the 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
Ordnance QF 6 pounder
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 6-pounder 7 cwt, or just 6 pounder, was a British 57 mm gun, their primary anti-tank gun during the middle of World War II, as well as the main armament for a number of armoured fighting vehicles...

 gun. In order to fit it, the coaxial machinegun and the loader crew member 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, 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
Ordnance QF 75 mm
The Ordnance QF 75 mm, abbreviated to OQF 75 mm, was a British tank-gun of the Second World War. It was used instead of the Ordnance QF 6 pounder , an anti-tank gun, to give better performance against infantry targets in a similar fashion to the 75 mm gun fitted to the American...

 gun and 210 hp version of the GMC 6004 diesel. Welded construction. Only served as a command tank.

Valentine DD
Valentine Mk V, IX and Mk XI, made amphibious by the use of Nicholas Straussler
Nicholas Straussler
Nicholas Straussler was an engineer mainly remembered for devising the flotation system used by Allied amphibious DD tanks during World War II. Born in Hungary, he developed a reputation as an innovative automotive engineer before moving to Britain during the interwar period...

's Duplex Drive. Used by crews training for the M4 Sherman
M4 Sherman
The M4 Sherman, formally Medium Tank, M4, was the primary tank used by the United States during World War II. Thousands were also distributed to the Allies, including the British Commonwealth and Soviet armies, via lend-lease...

 DD tank
DD tank
DD tanks , were a type of amphibious swimming tank developed by the British during the Second World War...

s of the Normandy Landings.

Valentine OP / Command
Observation Post and 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
Canal Defence Light
Canal Defence Light was a British "secret weapon" of the Second World War.It was based upon the use of a powerful carbon-arc searchlight mounted on a tank. It was intended to be used during night-time attacks, when the light would allow enemy positions to be targeted...

 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 Armoured 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 dozen were produced, some of them supplied to the USSR.
Valentine with 6pdr anti-tank mounting
Experimental vehicle built by Vickers-Armstrong to examine the possibility of producing a simple tank destroyer by mounting the 6pdr in its field carriage on the hull in place of the 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 a projector operated by gas pressure. The flamethrower fuel was carried in a trailer and the flame projector was mounted on the hull front. Trials started in 1942 and it showed that the gas-operated system was better. From this test installation was developed the Crocodile equipment for the Churchill Crocodile
Churchill Crocodile
The Churchill Crocodile was a British flame-throwing tank of late Second World War. It was a variant of the Tank, Infantry, Mk VI Churchill Mark VII, although the Churchill Mark IV was initially chosen to be the base vehicle....

 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 fire 25 lb TNT incendiary shells to demolish concrete emplacements. Trials only by Petroleum Warfare Dept, 1943-45. Effective range was 400 yards (maximum range 2,000 yards).


built 1420 tanks, 30 were left in Canada for training purposes the rest were sent to the Soviet Union four Mk III (captured from the Red Army) were used for testing and anti-tank training through Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 received 2394 British built and 1390 Canadian built tanks

Vehicles based on chassis

  • SP 17pdr, Valentine, Mk I, Archer
    Archer (tank destroyer)
    The SP 17pdr, Valentine, Mk I, Archer was a British self propelled anti-tank gun of the Second World War based on the Valentine infantry tank chassis fitted with a Ordnance QF 17 pounder gun.-Design and development:...

  • Carrier, Valentine, 25pdr gun Mk I, Bishop
    Bishop (artillery)
    The Bishop was a British self-propelled artillery vehicle based on the Valentine tank. A result of a rushed attempt to create a self-propelled gun armed with the 25 Pounder gun-howitzer, the vehicle had numerous problems, was produced in limited numbers and was soon replaced by better...

  • Tank, Infantry, Valiant (A38)
    Valiant tank
    The Tank, Infantry, Valiant was a British tank design of the Second World War that only reached the prototype stage. The design was so infamously bad that the sole example was retained by the School of Tank Technology post-war as a dire lesson to its students.- Origins :The A38 Valiant began as a...

Surviving tanks

Around 40 Valentine tanks, and vehicles based on the Valentine chassis, survive. Tanks in running condition are at the Bovington Tank Museum
Bovington Tank Museum
The Tank Museum is a collection of armoured fighting vehicles in the United Kingdom that traces the history of the tank. With almost 300 vehicles on exhibition from 26 countries it is the second-largest collection of tanks and armoured fighting vehicles in the world.The Musée des Blindés in France...

, and in private hands in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Other examples are displayed at the Imperial War Museum Duxford
Imperial War Museum Duxford
Imperial War Museum Duxford is a branch of the Imperial War Museum near the village of Duxford in Cambridgeshire, England. Britain's largest aviation museum, Duxford houses the museum's large exhibits, including nearly 200 aircraft, military vehicles, artillery and minor naval vessels in seven...

 in the UK; the Royal Military Museum
Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History
The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History (or simply the Royal Military Museum (RRM) is a museum that occupies the two northernmost halls of the historic complex in...

 in Brussels, Belgium; the Musée des Blindés
Musée des Blindés
The Musée des Blindés or Musée Général Estienne is a tank museum located in the Loire Valley of France, in the city of Saumur. It is one of the world's largest tank museums....

, Saumur, France and the Kubinka Tank Museum
Kubinka Tank Museum
The Kubinka Tank Museum is a large museum of armoured fighting vehicles in Kubinka, just outside Moscow. It has many famous tanks from World War I, World War II and the Cold War. The museum also houses many unique vehicles, such as the Panzer VIII Maus, Troyanov super-heavy tank and a Karl-Gerät...

, Russia. In the United States, the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation
Military Vehicle Technology Foundation
The Military Vehicle Technology Foundation is a large collection of military vehicles located in Portola Valley, California. It was founded by the late Jacques Littlefield, and now is under the direction of Bill Boller....

 and the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles both own Valentines. Other examples are at the South African National Museum of Military History
South African National Museum of Military History
The South African National War Museum in Johannesburg was officially opened by Prime Minister Jan Smuts on 29 August 1947 to preserve the history of South Africa's involvement in the Second World War. In 1975 the museum was renamed the South African National Museum of Military History and its...

 and the Indian Armoured Corps Museum in Ahmednagar Fort, Ahmednagar.

A number of Valentine hulls are in private ownership in Australia. 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 Telepino (Telepyne, Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

), 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
Glasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...

-era gift to Canada. It was presented to the Canadian War Museum
Canadian War Museum
The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Located in Ottawa, Ontario, the museum covers all facets of Canada’s military past, from the first recorded instances of death by armed violence in Canadian history several thousand years ago to the country’s most recent...

 by independent Ukraine in 1992, and stands on display in the LeBreton Gallery.

A notable survivor is the only intact DD Valentine, this has been restored to running condition and is in private ownership in the United Kingdom. A number of DD Valentines that sank during training still lie off the British coast; several have been located and are regularly visited by recreational divers. This includes two in the Moray Firth
Moray Firth
The Moray Firth is a roughly triangular inlet of the North Sea, north and east of Inverness, which is in the Highland council area of north of Scotland...

 in Scotland and two that lie 3.5 miles (5.6 km) out of Poole Bay
Poole Bay
Poole Bay is a bay in the English Channel, off the coast of Dorset in southern England, which runs from the mouth of Poole Harbour in the west to Hengistbury Head in the east. It consists of steep sandstone cliffs and several 'chines' that allow easy access to the sandy beaches below...

 in Dorset. These tanks lie 100 metres apart in 15 metres (49.2 ft) of water. A further tank is known to lie in around 10 metres of water in Bracklesham Bay
Bracklesham Bay
Bracklesham Bay is a coastal bay on the west side of the Manhood Peninsula in West Sussex, England. The bay looks out onto the English Channel and the Isle of Wight is visible from the beach, as is the Nab Tower lighthouse and the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.The bay is sandy and backed with...

, south of Chichester in West Sussex; the hull and turret are clearly recognizable as it sits on a gravel mound.

External links

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