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Valentine Mk. II (F-95): Experimental Upgrades
History:The Valentine Infantry Tank was widely considered to be one of the best tanks of its type during the Second World War. Serving on multiple fronts and evolving over time to cope with the ever-changing needs of the war, it was a reliable and sturdy tank which proved its worth wherever it went. One of these locations was the Eastern Front. After the invasion by the Germans in 1941, the Soviet Union found that they needed tanks from wherever they could get them. The British, being a fellow Allied power, were happy to supply them with weapons and ammunition through the Aid to Russia Fund, beginning that same year. Thus large deliveries of tanks, guns, ammo, and other supplies began pouring into Russia from the UK, including nearly 2700 Valentine tanks of various types (though around 400 were lost at sea due to German attacks on shipping). The Soviets greatly appreciated the Valentine and considered it an excellent tank, but some issues were noted. The first of these was about the gun.
The 40mm 2-pdr was still a very capable gun at the time, and was the primary anti-tank weapon of Britain and the Commonwealth. However, the Soviet Union took issue with a number of elements, most notably that it only fired solid AP shot as opposed to APHE. The 45mm anti tank guns they were used to had always featured APHE, and the Soviets were keen on being able to retain this ability. It should be noted that documentation for an APHE shell for the 2-pdr was supplied to the Soviets by the British (likely Shell Mk. 1 or something similar) but no ammo was ever sent, possibly due to the poor performance of 40mm APHE. The issue was also raised of ammo compatibility with the rest of their tank fleet, as it would make logistics much easier if the Valentine also used 45mm ammo. Lastly, the earliest tanks supplied by the British were severely underequipped, often not coming with enough ammunition, spare barrels, or even any weaponry whatsoever. These factors drove the Soviets to begin consideration of a way to rearm the Valentine with a 45mm gun.
Factory Number 92 was put to work on the project with P.F. Muravyev as the leader (under direction of V.F. Grabin). The modifications were done on a Valentine Mk. II, a common early model in Soviet service. A new gun mount with a 45mm gun, coaxial DT machine gun, new brass catcher, and a thicker external mantlet which could not be jammed by enemy shells was designed and fitted. The 45mm gun was based on the 20-K but modified enough to receive its own designation of F-95. This mount freed up space internally, making working conditions much more comfortable. Soviet engineers were also able to boost the number of shells stored from 59 to 91. Following trials which were largely successful, the decision was made to not proceed with the rearmament. Several reasons were presented, but it mostly came down to the fact that no notable increase in firepower was noted between the 45mm and 40mm guns, and that it would take too much effort to rearm the tanks at a time when factories and repair workshops were already stretched to the maximum.
The F-95 gun mount, complete with DT and optics.
The new external mantlet.
This was not the only modification performed on the Valentines to improve their performance. The armor was also seen to be an issue, and so many were fitted with applique armor to improve their performance against German 75mm anti-tank guns. Usually plates of 30-45mm were welded to the front of the tank in a somewhat nonstandard fashion, but a properly planned method was proposed and tested, though it was turned down as it was seen to increase the mass in a negative fashion. This scheme called for angled plates of 45mm thickness to be welded to the flat upper and lower front plates as well as a special set of plates around the turret ring, preventing shells from entering and jamming it.
Finally, it was noted that the mobility over snow and rough ground was lacking, so spurs were designed to improve this. These would be added in-between the track links to give them more traction. The most successful design was created by A.S. Lobokov, A.M. Zenin, and I.A. Kondrashev in 1943, becoming a common fitment on most Soviet Valentine tanks. They sat every 12-13 track links, with 8 spurs fitted to each track.
Early track spur designs. Despite being issued to tank crews, they were not as effective as had been hoped.
The final and most successful design which greatly improved traction over snow and other rough terrain.
These modifications, while not all successful, turned the Valentine Mk. II in Soviet service into a radically new and improved vehicle.
Description:All of these upgrades were performed on Valentine Mk. IIs. These differed from the Mk. I we have in-game by the type of engine used. Where the Mk. I used the 135HP AEG A189 gasoline engine, the Mk. II was fitted with the 131HP AEC A190 diesel which produced more torque. It also had provision for fitting an external fuel tank on the left hand side or at the rear to increase its range.
Starting with the gun, the new gun mount replaces the 2-pdr, coaxial BESA, optics, and gun mantlet with a 45mm F-95 gun (based on the 20-K), a coaxial DT machine gun, standard 45mm gun optics (as on the T-26 or BT), and a new thicker external mantlet. The smoke grenade mortar was retained. Ammunition capacity was increased to 91 shells, with all the usual 45mm shell types being available.
As for the armor improvement, the proposed layout of 45mm angled plates would be used, with one on the upper front plate, one on the lower front plate, and several around the turret ring.
Lastly, the final version of the track spurs would be used, possibly as an optional modification. These would give this particular valentine an advantage over others on snowy ground.
Main Armament: 45mm F-95 gun
Secondary Armament: 1x 7.62mm DT machine gun (coaxial)
Armor: ??mm (new gun mantlet), 65mm (turret front and rear), 60mm (turret sides, hull sides, hull frontal flat plates, hull rear flat plate), 30mm (frontal sloped areas, hull side sloped areas), 20mm (turret top front, extreme lower front and rear plates), 17mm (hull rear, engine deck), 15mm (turret top rear, hull floor), 10mm (hull roof areas, turret top center)
Ammo Count: 91 45mm rounds, ??? 7.62mm rounds
Engine: AEC A190 inline-6 diesel, 131HP
Transmission: Meadows Type 22, 5 forward gears, 1 reverse
Speed: 28 km/h (15 mph) on road
Crew: 3 (Driver, Gunner, Commander)
Smoke: 1x 50mm smoke mortar (16 rounds)