The Tank Museum | E1949.356

Tank Infantry Mark III Valentine I Scissors Bridgelayer (E1949.356)

Tank Infantry Mark III Valentine I Scissors Bridgelayer
Tank Infantry Mark III Valentine I Scissors Bridgelayer
Tank Infantry Mark III Valentine I Scissors Bridgelayer
vehicle info
Precise Name
Tank Infantry Mark III Valentine I Scissors Bridgelayer
Main Utility Type
Bridgelayer
Country of Use
U.K.
production
Manufactured
1944, Metropolitan-Cammell Ltd., United Kingdom
Era
World War 2
Nationality
British
location in the museum
Rhine Crossing
TYPE HISTORY: In 1940, the Experimental Bridging Establishment developed the No. 1 scissors bridge, which folded out to 34 feet long and 9.6 feet wide, and was rated for 30-foot (9.1 meter) gaps and loads of 30 imperial tons. The new bridge was tested on a de-turreted Cruiser II, but by September 1941 this potential bridgelayer vehicle had been abandoned in favour of the Cruiser V (Covenanter). The bridge was fully developed for the Covenanter, and entered production, before orders were received around January 1942 to redesign it for the Valentine II (see E1949.344).

The mechanism was operated by power taken off the fan drive at the rear, through a small oil-bath clutch and a 2-to-1 reduction gear, to a reversing gearbox just behind the driver, directly beneath the screw feed gearbox. Deploying and recovering the bridge took 2.5 minutes each.

The first trial conversion was of a Valentine I (this vehicle), although the rest of the Bridgelayers were based on Valentine II and III tank hulls, whose diesel engine (A190 by AEC) developed higher torque for the mechanism than the Valentine I’s spark-ignition engine. 231 bridgelayers were factory-assembled, while 218 bridgelayers were contracted for conversion. These were completed from January 1943 to August 1944; another 30 spare bridges were ordered in that period.

Bridgelayers were not needed in Egypt or Libya, but MEC required some for further operations in Tunisia and Italy. In January 1943, some Valentine Bridgelayers finally arrived in Egypt, but without the bridges, which had been loaded on to another ship and sent somewhere else.

The Valentine Bridgelayer was soon superceded by the Churchill Bridgelayer, whose launching gear was superior and whose mobility was superior (although less reliable). Some Valentine Bridgelayers were used in north-west Europe from 1944 to 1945, because the supply of Churchill Bridgelayers could not meet demand. Each armoured brigade in Italy and India/Burma had six Valentine Bridgelayers. Meanwhile, in India British forces developed a turretless Valentine bridging vehicle nicknamed “Burmark,” with ramps for other vehicles to climb over the hull.

25 Valentine bridgelayers were exported to the Soviet Union late in 1943.

THIS VEHICLE: is one of the first 44 Valentine Mark Is to be assembled by Metropolitan-Cammell from July 1940. The Mark I was the only mark to be powered by a spark-ignition engine (A189 by AEC). The access doors to the radiators and transmission at the rear are of the early type, with handles on the nearside door, bolts around the edge of the offside door, and a fuel tank filler under a flap to the right. Late Mark Is and all subsequent tanks had two doors, each with handles, opening up and to the sides, and the fuel tank filler was inside. The Mark I had fuel tanks either side of the engine, while all other Marks had one fuel tank on the nearside.

All Mark Is were retained in Britain for training or experiments. In early 1942, this vehicle became the pilot conversion to bridgelayer, with a bridge manufactured in 1941; it was extensively photographed at the Experimental Bridging Establishment for instructional purposes. Some of these photographs were used in the instruction manual.

At some point, this vehicle was transferred to the School of Tank Technology, before transfer to the Tank Museum. In the 1980s, John Pearson managed to turn its engine over, but failed to get it running. In order to clear the engine access doors, he inserted the wooden blocks below the bridge supports over the engine compartment.

LABEL: In 1940, the Experimental Bridging Establishment developed the No. 1 scissors bridge, which folded out to 34 feet long, and was rated for 30-foot (9.1 meter) gaps and loads of 30 long tons. It was tested on a de-turreted Cruiser II, but by September 1941 this was replaced by a Cruiser V (Covenanter), before orders were received around January 1942 to redesign it for the Valentine II. This vehicle was the first Valentine to be converted to a Bridgelayer in 1942. It is a Valentine I, the only Mark with a spark-ignition engine, delivered around October 1940. It was retained for instructional purposes, while all operational bridgelayers were converted from diesel-engined Valentine IIs or Valentine IIIs.

Bruce Newsome, Ph.D.
VEHICLES Features
Full Tracked
Tracks/Wheels
None
Armament - Main Weapon Type
AEC water cooled, 6 cylinder
Engine
Slow motion type
Suspension
5 Forward, 1 Reverse
Transmission
Scissors Bridge, 30ft., No. 1 Laying time: 25 minutes
Bridge
Vehicle Statistics
2
Number (Crew)
19.6tons
Weight (Overall)
12mph
Maximum (Speed - Road)
Petrol
Type (Fuel)
65.00mm
Maximum (Armour Thickness)
131bhp
Power (Engine Output)
56gall
Volume (Fuel)
90ml
Radius (Range)
7.19m
Length (Overall)
2.95m
Width (Overall)
3.43m
Height (Overall)
10.36m
Length (Bridge)
2.90m
Width (Bridge)
3.25tons
Weight (Bridge)
30tons
Capacity (Bridge)