Friday, 13 September 2013

Lend Lease Impressions: Valentine

A Valentine tank that fought in the Battle of Moscow, likely as a part of the 137th ITB. Photograph published in the Red Star newspaper on November 22nd, 1941.

"A Review of the Performance of English Valentine Tanks, Used by the 131st Independent Tank Battalion of the 50th Army
  1. Advantages
    1. Good firepower, especially when the mortar is used with domestic 50 mm rounds, which have a 200-250 meters greater range than English ones. Also, captured German ammunition can be used, when inserted in English belts.
    2. The armour protects the crew from armour piercing bullets and shells up to 45-50 meters.
    3. The tank handles well, moves quietly, and the elastic suspension allows accurate fire on the move.
    4. The engine is economical and reliable.
    5. The tank is small, but powerful.
  2. Disadvantages
    1. Poor performance on slippery terrain.
    2. The tracks are weak. Links and link pins break frequently.
    3. Gearbox gears frequently jam.
    4. Weak drive wheels and idlers. 
    5. Poor form of gun mantlet. Shells that hit it do not ricochet, and make the tank more vulnerable.
    6. Vulnerable spots: suspension, gun mantlet, engine grille.
    7. Lack of spare parts affects timely repairs and return to the battlefield.
    8. There are no HE-fragmentation shells.
Conclusions: the tank is good, and matches the requirements of modern war. Crews become proficient with it easily. It is adequate for use in the RKKA.

Recommendations: 
  1. Weld a spur to every 4-5th track to increase performance on slippery terrain (this works well in practice).
  2. Increase the quality of tracks, especially the pins.
  3. Supply with large amounts of spare parts, especially track links and pins.
  4. Use the 50 mm domestic mortar round (this works well in practice).
  5. Develop an HE-fragmentation shell for the gun.
  6. Supply with spare parts for armament."
CAMD RF 20.8-2534-5

This particular review stems from experience obtained during the Battle for Moscow. The lack of HE shells (the 2-pounder gun had very ineffective HE which was infrequently used) confirms that this was a pretty early Valentine. The presence of a "50 mm" mortar (the British used a 2-inch mortar on tanks for smoke launchers) is interesting, especially given its compatibility with Soviet ammunition. Sadly, the type of shell used is not specified. Battlefield.ru informs me that the only type of shell Soviet 50 mm mortars used was an HE-fragmentation one, so maybe it was a field attempt to compensate for the lack of HE shells for the 40 mm gun. 

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