Another superlative kit by Tamiya. This one has just the right balance of complexity and detail that I prefer. I have always liked the look of the Valentine and the other attraction is that due to its diminutive size it doesn’t take up much room on my shelves!
Valentines were produced by Vickers and ready to be deployed from June 1940. After the debacle at Dunkirk in which the British Army abandoned so much of its equipment, production of the Valentine was ramped up and even outsourced to Canada.
Valentine tanks were designed for close infantry support but a shortage of cruiser tanks forced them to be used for training the new armoured formations.
But with British troops in North Africa in dire need of armoured support, Valentines were sent for use in the cruiser tank role.
Early British tanks used in WW2 were inferior, especially in gun power and armour, to their German counterparts. As soon as the British began to use American Shermans in quantity, the balance in desert warfare shifted dramatically to their advantage.
Given the fact that the first tanks were used by the British in World War I and that Britain played a leading role in tank development in the 1930s, it is hard to understand why British tank design was so bad. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that the priority in engineering and productive resources went to warship and aircraft design.
The Valentine is armed with a puny 2-pounder (40 mm) gun, the standard British anti-tank gun, comparable to the 50 mm gun fitted to most German tanks. It was designed to fight in western Europe with an effective range of up to 800 yards and not to fight in the flat, cover-less desert, where targets could be identified at 2,000 yards.
It could also only fire armour piercing shells, rather than the heavy explosive ones needed to take out anti-tank guns.
Valentines had a crew of three and also mounted a 7.92 mm machine gun.
The Long Range Desert Group (L.R.D.G.) operated behind enemy lines during the North African campaign in WW2. It used a Chevrolet 15 cwt truck on a Canadian-built Chevrolet chassis. It was fitted with desert tyres and a big open body to hold all the gear and supplies for the long range sorties into the desert. With the extra load, they had extra leaves fitted into the springs, wireless and a condenser fitted onto the running board to conserve cooling water. Doors and door pillars were removed, extra spare wheels fitted, and mounts added for machine guns and anti-tank rifles. The load carried might be up to two tons, consisting of food, fuel, ammunition, water and explosives for demolition work. Sand-mats of canvas and steel sand channels were carried to assist through the many shifting sands and dunes.
For navigation, a sun compass was attached to the dashboard and sextants were also used to fix positions, much like the way mariners navigate at sea.
The LRDG was made up of volunteers and their main task was to observe and plot enemy movements behind the lines and report back by radio. Beards and other non-military practices and apparel were common given that this was not a regular Regimental unit.
The LRDG took delivery of new vehicles in May 1942, namely 30 cwt types with general military service steel bodies. These were more rugged than the original type of vehicle and more capacious.