The Valentine tank has an interesting history: it was a private venture designed by Vickers-Armstrong and originally offered to the War Department in 1938. Production started in 1939 with an initial order of 250 tanks, and over the course of the war, it was produced in a wide variety of Marks: the Mk I-VII, VIIA, IX, X and XI. It saw service in North Africa, Italy, Northwest Europe and the Far East, and was also exported for use by the Russians.
As well as being produced as a gun tank, the chassis was used for transport/carriage of other hardware, such as the Archer 17pdr anti tank gun and Bishop 25pdr Field Gun. I have even seen pictures of a bridge-laying version.
This is a long-awaited kit, and for recommended reading, I would point you towards Dick Taylorís book from Armor PhotoHistory British Infantry Tank Mk III Valentine
, which is an excellent reference for modellers. I reviewed Dickís book here
on Armorama a short time ago.
There was not a great deal of difference between the early versions of the Valentine, with the main changes being the power plant. The Mk IV is effectively a Mk II except that the Mk IV had the General Motors 6-71 Diesel engine and tended to come with the No 19 Radio. It also had the rear lookout added to the left-hand side of the turret. Many of the Mk IVs were manufactured in Canada and exported directly to Russia. Vickers Armstrong also produced around 500 plus, and Metropolitan Cammell were involved in the production.
Another useful link I came across was WW2 Vehicles
The kit comes presented in a nice sturdy box with a good picture on the front. The parts are cast in light grey styrene, and come sealed in one plastic bag with the frame parts in additional separate bags inside. Over all the quality of the moulding looks good, with no major flash to clean up. The set also comes with a five-figure Red Army crew which is a nice bonus for the price. There are ejection marks that will need to be filled on the underside of some parts, but overall the casting and presentation of the kit look very good.
To go with the build, you get an 8-page set of instructions of the expanded diagram-kind, an A4 colour paint chart for 6 different vehicles, a small set of decals and a small set of PE.
So letís have a look at the parts.
This contains the upper hull and associated fittings for the driverís interior. Yes, you get a basic driverís interior which is another nice addition to the kit. The upper hull matches well to the photographs and references I have; I canít see anything glaringly obviously wrong with it; the details look good, and with the driverís hatches on either side of the hull open, the partial interior will be very welcome. Frame A also contains some associated fittings for the completion of the hull.
Frame B x 2
The road and drive wheels and the suspension units come on 2 frames. The detail on the parts looks sharp. The rear drive wheels appear to have the correct bolt detail, and the drive teeth look to be correctly-spaced, although I didnít have a full picture to count them. A nice presentation there as far as I can tell. The detail on the road wheels looks good and seems fairly accurate. The wheels all have backing parts, so no empty spaces there. The large drive wheels come in 3 parts: the front and rear hubs and then the tyre surround. The detail looks accurate against the reference pictures I have seen.
Some information on the wheels: The large road wheels came in 5 different types in a diameter of 24 inches. The small road wheels were 19.5 inches in diameter (normally referred to as 20 inch) and also came in 5 different styles. The kit has the 20 inch diameter large road and idler wheels, which accounts for the odd look some have already commented on. The diameter of the road wheels matched the diameter of the idler wheel. There were five types of wheels produced (in production order ):
1. Segmented type, with alternate raised and lowered quadrants
2. Initial production (could be aluminium or steel)
3. Riveted Type with kidney depressions
4. Plain Flat Steel wheel with dome centre
5. With hub cap in the centre
All five types/styles were found in both 19.5 (20) inch and 24 inch diameter. You could mix and match type providing the diameter was the same. My grateful thanks to John Pearson for this additional data.
All the remaining parts on the frame seem very well-done with good, sharp detail.
This contains some of the side bins and additional fittings required for the upper hull. Again, these parts are very well-presented, and there should be no excess clean-up necessary. Also on frame C are the parts for the side fuel tank (not required for this build, but check your references). The tools look to be perfectly acceptable and over-all a very excellent set of parts
Frame D contains the turret parts, and you get a gun breach and radio to help fill out the space. The turret is of the 2-man kind, and has the correct vision ports for this version. It comes at two parts and has the correct bolt detail in-place. I can see no discernable difference between the front bolts on the turret and the side bolts, which is as it should be. Also included on this sprue are the Bren gun and fittings for the Lakeman AA MG mount. These are nice parts, some quite thin and therefore fragile, so take care when removing them from the sprue. The barrel of the 2pdr comes moulded as one part and looks straight and true with the business end pre-drilled. There is a lot of fine detail overall on these parts.
This contains the mud guards for the front and rear of the tank. No side skirts are provided in this version and would not be necessary for the build in any case.
Frame E x 5
The links are small but not too small, and should build-up into excellent track, although you might need a little patience. The details looks good.
Part G is the lower hull, a long boat-like shaped part, and again the detail here look good and accurate.
You get a small fret of photo etch to add some fine detail to the kit. This comes sealed in a plastic cover, so take care when removing.
You get a small sheet of decals to match up with the examples given in the colour painting guide. My knowledge of Russian Army markings is nil, so I cannot comment there, but you get markings for 6 vehicles:
Educational Tank regiment, Gorki City, November 1941
Moscow Battle, December 1941 Ė (unknown Regiment)
Unknown Tank Regiment, 1941
South front Kharkov region, June 1942 (Unknown Regiment)
Vilnius Lithuania, July 1944 (Unknown Regiment)
Voronezh front, 201st Red Army Tank Brigade, January 1943
A wider choice of identified vehicles would have been preferred.
The tank crew consist of a five-figure set, and were issued as a separate set (reviewed by Jim Rea here
on Armorama. What is worth commenting on thought is the fact that MiniArt have set a precedent by providing crews for all their vehicle kit issues so far, and that is an excellent development for model makers.
This is a well-engineered and produced kit. I can see nothing wrong with the parts, and you get some cool additions to the kit with the partial driverís compartment, full breach for the gun, the radio and the five crew figures. The individual links should build-up well to give you the correct track shape, and also offer additional presentation possibilities for diorama builders. I am not an expert on the Valentine, but everything Iíve looked at tells me this is a very good kit. Iíve yet to see a 100% perfect kit, so if something does need fixing, then isnít that part of the fun? This is a very creditable effort, and Iíll look forward to the further development of this range. MiniArt are to be congratulated for bringing this one along.
There should be plenty of potential with the kit as it stands, and with its five crew figures provided, for display, either as a stand-alone vehicle or as part of a larger scene. And since externally the Valentine Mk IV and Mk II were the same, there is ample opportunity to finish this one as a British/Commonwealth vehicle. The partial turret and driverís interior allows for adding a bit more detail there, too.
There is an issue with the size of the Large Road/Idler Wheels, something I have just had clarification on as they measure in at 20 inches instead of 24 inches, so there is either an AM opportunity there or a fix needed from MiniArt
. My apologies for any confusion, but that's what happened in emails. I have altered the rating on this review accordingly.
If anyone would like the set of Russian Crew figures just PM me and Iíll put them in the post.
I have included pictures of the MiniArt build for further reference at the end of the article.
British Infantry Tank Mk III Ė Valentine
by Dick Taylor
Special Thanks to: John Pearson
A Build Log
has been started in the Forums to evaluate the kit construction.
Following on from the build of this kit, (see Blog link above), I have changed my opinion back to my original thoughts. My main concern was the incorrect spacing between the small and large road wheels, which had the potential to give the finished kit an odd look. This still exists but an easy fix came to light during the build and as a result of this I have changed the rating from Recommended to Highly Recommended
as this is a dapper little kit to build, good fit and highly detailed. The fix is an easy one and as such I feel a change of rating is appropriate.