Infantry Tank Valiant (A38) Infantry / Assault Tank
Intended for battle in the Far East, only one pilot vehicle of the Valiant was ever completed during World War 2.
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British Army "Specification A38" called for a new infantry/assault tank intended for service in the Asia-Pacific Theater during World War 2 (1939-1945). As with other Allied powers, the United Kingdom found itself fighting along multiple fronts in attempting to reel in the Axis powers. A38 was intended to blend a lighter-class tank design with strong armor protection and notable firepower to boot. The resulting design - the "Valliant" Infantry Tank - eventually proved itself a failure and soldiered on into history through just one prototype form - now preserved at the Bovington Tank Museum, U.K.
Design work began in late 1943 and the specification put lesser emphasis on certain critical qualities such as off road performance and direct tank-versus-tank confrontation. This allowed engineers to stay within the scope of the target weight, the end-product becoming a manageable 27-ton armored machine. Dimensions included a length of 17 feet, 7 inches, with a width of 9 feet, 3 inches and a height of 7 feet. The vehicle would be crewed by four personnel with armor protection reaching 4.5" in thickness. The hull was of cast armor with bolted-on sections. Power would be served through a single GMC 6004 series diesel-fueled engine developing 210 horsepower propelling the vehicle up to a paltry 12 miles per hour on roads and a worse 7 miles per hour cross-country. The engine was housed in a rear compartment in the usual fashion concerning tanks. The suspension system consisted of individual wishbone sprung units. The track-and-wheel running gear was made up of six rubber-tired road wheels to a hull side.
Initial work on the vehicle fell to the storied Vickers concern but direction then was given to Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon before becoming a focus of Ruston & Hornsy. Ruston & Hornsy was founded in 1918 and was now a proven manufacturer of various heavy engine types. A pilot vehicle was finally unveiled in 1944 with the war beginning to turn against the Axis powers along certain fronts. The vehicle carried the formal designation of "Tank, Infantry, Valiant (A38)".
The main gun of choice became a 57mm QF 6-pounder which proved readily available from existing British stocks. The gun was mounted in a three-man turret featuring traverse and elevation controls though its near-vertical facings would have proven a ballistics detriment in actual combat. Additional armament included 2 x 7.92mm Besa machine guns, one in a coaxial mounting.
Progression of the Valiant project was slow and testing came underway in 1945 when, in May, the vehicle was driven (on-road) for a time. Handling proved cumbersome and the trials did little to enforce the product's value. No endorsement from its participants was forthcoming as well. Mercifully, the war in Europe came to a close that month and primary focus for the Allies now fell to the Pacific Theater. The war, in full, was over in August, reducing the need for a troublesome, expensive infantry/assault tank. As such, the Valiant became the target of quick termination thereafter.
After the war, the existing pilot vehicle was used at the "School of Tank Technology" where its various shortcomings were studied at length by up-and-coming engineers. It then found its permanent home at the Bovington Tank Museum where it can be seen today (2014).