Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The Battle of Alam el Halfa, in early September 1942, was the swan song of the Matilda infantry tank in the desert. The Matilda had a cast hull and could not be easily given a larger turret ring and gun. The easiest thing to do was to obsolete the tank and move on to newer designs. The Valentine, on the other hand, was a different situation. Like the Matilda with the 2pdr gun, the 2pdr Valentine was also obsolete. In the case of the Valentine, the tank could be modified with a larger turret ring and could be given a 6pdr or 75mm gun. The Valentine VIII and IX were armed with the 57mm 6pdr gun. The Valentine XI had the 75mm gun. The Valentine was gradually withdrawn from British service, but continued in service with the Russian army. The Russians appreciated the good armour and like the small size, as they were smaller targets and may have been more easily concealed. Chamberlain and Ellis say that 8.275 Valentines were built. The Valentine X was built in 1943 and the XI built in 1943-1944, also according to Chamberlain and Ellis. This is based on Vol.III of the Official History and Pictorial History of Tanks of the World 1915-45 by Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis.