The Valentine Tank in all of its various guises is one of those ugly tanks that seems to draw modellers to it. Produced in huge numbers and seeing service in the North African Campaign and both Eastern and Western Europe, the Valentine got about and saw its fair share of action with a limited number even seeing action in the Pacific Theatre. The Rota-Trailer included with this product is an interesting inclusion; the rota-trailer I believe only saw limited service in the North African Campaign. The idea was sound a trailer that allowed tanks to carry quantities of fuel, water, ammunition, and general supplies such as rations. In North Africa where there were miles of featureless sand all units could only go so far before needing to stop and get resupplied, the idea of this trailer was that it would allow the Allied forces to push further and longer before resupply was needed. The problem was that after being introduced the rough terrain either shook the trailers to pieces, turned upside down or damaged the towing mechanism both on the trailer and towing vehicle.
The following is the introduction supplied by AFV Club
on their instruction booklet.
Vickers-Armstrong started two new tanks projects in 1934; high speed A9 medium tank and infantry support A10 tank. By 1936 the British Army categorised its tank inventory as Cruiser tank and Infantry Tank. The A9 was categorised as a Cruiser Tank, where as the A10 was categorised as a Heavy Cruiser Tank, because its armour thickness and speed were considered to be under performing.
In the meantime Vickers-Armstrong conducted a private venture by adopting A10 Cruiser Tank chassis with thicker armour, rendering a new Infantry Tank, the project, known as Valentine was submitted to the War Office in February 1938. At first the Valentine was not favoured because of limited internal space, With Europe under the shadow of war at that time, and as Valentine Tanks largely shared the components from the A9 and A10 tanks, this was seen as an advantage to mass production. Highly reliable, the Valentine saw service in many theatres after mass production; the Valentine was also built under license in Canada and supplied to Russia. The Valentine became the most produced British tank of WW2.
The most significant change of the Valentine Mk III was the three man turret. Its front turret plate was moved forward providing extra room in the fighting compartment. With extra space it made it possible to accommodate a loader that eased the duties of the commander. An additional storage bracket was attached to the rear of the turret and a round shaped pistol ports were added to the sides of the turret.
The Rota-Trailer was designed to be towed by tanks and carrying extra supplies in the desert environment. The un-armoured Rota-trailer had a capacity to carry 12 mans rations, 10 gallons of water, 1000 machine gun rounds, 100 rounds of 2pdr ammunition or 40 rounds of 6pdr ammunition and 120 gallons of fuel in the wheels. It was towed behind Crusader, Valentine, Matilda and Churchill tanks during Operation Battleaxe in North Africa in 1941 and battles in Tunisia in 1942. As many tanks found it difficult to manoeuvre when reversing with the Rota-Trailer attached, the Rota-Trailer was not deployed with a large number of tank units.
The contents are packaged in the standard card tray and lid box from AFV Club
. Inside you will find;
- 13 green sprues
- Lower hull
- 1 clear sprue
- Vinyl tracks
- Turned aluminium barrel
- Resin track links
- 2 photo etched frets
- 1 decal sheet
- 1 box top print
An examination of the box contents is positive for the most part, with all of the parts being well moulded. There are as with all kits a number of ejector pin marks on the mouldings, but these are I believe in locations that will not be visible when construction is complete with the possible exception of the underside of the mudguards. There are a few cooling lines on some pieces but I again believe that none of these mares the finish on areas that can be seen when finished. Flash is none existent in this sample and seam lines are few and far between.
The hull of this model is surprisingly complex in construction due to a very large number of parts going together to make the upper portion of the hull. The parts are all well moulded and have some excellent detail imparted to the components. There is no interior detail in the hull with the exception of a firewall to support some of the upper deck parts. The front hull hatches have been designed so that they can be opened or closed but due to the lack of interior detail an after market set or some scratch work will need to be done to leave the hatches open. The rear engine deck is nicely detailed considering the complex detail in that area of the tank. The very rear of the hull has a stowage rack for five flimsies which are also included with the model, the details of the flimsies is good and adds a nice detail.
Tracks, Suspension and Wheels
Starting with the tracks which are of the vinyl rubber type, detail is reasonable considering the material used, however they are a little distorted from their time in packaging and I am unsure as to how well they will reshape when attached to the model. The wheels are all able to be rotated after assembly due to the use of poly caps being used; the poly caps are trapped under the axle hubs which is fine unless the hubs have been enlarged to accept the poly caps. The drive wheels are very nicely detailed and are again able to rotate after assembly. AFV Club
has also gone to the trouble of making the return rollers rotatable, with all of these rotations making painting them in my view easier. The suspension structures look accurate and are workable, AFV Club
have used slide moulded springs to support the weight of the model and allow articulation. Structurally all of these elements look to come together to replicate this area of the model well, at this stage however I cannot comment on the accuracy of this are when it is assembled. This being a vehicle from the North Africa theatre and with the difficulty in getting spares, I would have liked to see some alternate pattern wheels in the kit as if scavenged from a damaged or destroyed vehicle.
The mudguards have a nice level of detail moulded into them, the area of the mudguard I refer to as the sponson will also require a lot of holes to be drilled in pre marked locations; no drill size is provided for these holes however I believe it is 0.4mm or 0.5mm that is required using best judgement. The boxes and various parts that are added to the sponson/mudguard upper such as boxes, support frames, spare tracks and tools give these areas a very busy look. The boxes can I believe be displayed open which provides some options on the display front.
Mantlet and Main Gun
The turned aluminium barrel is well done and will add a nice touch to the finished model, the other beauty of the turned barrel is that the profile is correct and there is of course no seam lines or joins to get rid of. The Besa machine gun mounted next to the main gun is slide moulded, meaning no drilling of the barrel and an MG that looks good overall. The mantlet is well done with a very nice slight texture present; in areas where AFV Club
could not add bolt detail during the moulding process they have supplied moulded bolt heads for detailing these areas accurately. The inner face of the mantlet has some good detail that will not be easily seen; these details include sighting for the main gun and the internal main gun elements. Despite the difficulty in seeing the detail it does provide some elements to fill the space.
The turret sides and rear again have the nice subtle texture, the vent in the rear of the turret is also nicely replicated even though it will be mostly hidden by the rear turret locker. Inside the rear of the turret is a nicely replicated radio and cage and this is one area that will be clearly visible from the turret hatch. The top of the turret has some detail moulded on it but does not have any texture on it, I am unsure if that is correct or not. The rear turret bin can be displayed open and filled with goodies if wished, this will add some personality to your build. On the turret there is a bren gun which has again been slide moulded, the Bren gun has been supplied with a separate drum magazine as opposed to the banana magazine, a drum magazine for a Bren is something I have never come across before. One other plus for this area is that despite the aerial being made from stretched sprue, the length of the aerial is specified. One other area that should be mention is that the lenses for the model are all made from clear plastic, this may not be perfect but it is a feature some manufacturers overlook.
Perhaps the single element that will make you decide to purchase this offering of the Valentine or not is the Roto-Trailer supplied with the model. Well the good news is that every element of the Rota-Trailer is present in the model, right down to the square in the wheels fuel caps. The only part that I could find that was not 100% accurate as regards parts, are the screw locking handles on the doors. These small locking handles are in the kit, but they have been moulded as four bars instead of two sets of two handles, this is by no means a big deal but it does show the effort that AFV Club
have gone too. I cannot say that the scale is 100% accurate as I do not have the dimensions of the Rota-Trailer, I have however included a link to a small walk around of the Rota-Trailer at the end of this review, this example is currently on display at Bovington Tank Museum to help you see what I mean.
Instructions and Finishing options
The instructions are supplied in the form of an A4 sized booklet that uses the black and white line drawing approach to guide you through the various stages. The instructions are clear to my mind and I did not find any obvious issues. The instructions would have you believe that there are 40 stages to complete construction; however if you take into account the sub stages the total creeps towards 60 stages if not more. There are four finishing options supplied with the model, which are:
- 6th Armoured Division, Tunisia, Spring 1943
- Royal New Zealand Army, Waiouru, North Island, 1949
- Pz.Rgt. 7, 10th Panzer Division, DAK, Libya 1942
- 6th Armoured Division, Tunis, March 1943
So there is a nice selection of finishing options supplied.
All in all this is a very nice model of the Valentine tank, the Rota Trailer adds to the appeal being something a little different. Visually the model appears to be very accurate having all of the parts needed and correctly placed. I cannot comment on the dimensional accuracy as I do not have the needed reference material to hand, however judging from pictures and the parts it looks good to me.