Valentine Infantry Tank vs Panzer III – North Africa 1941-43, Bruce Oliver Newsome


Valentine Infantry Tank vs Panzer III – North Africa 1941-43, Bruce Oliver Newsome

Although other tanks are more famous, the Panzer III was the most numerous German tank in North Africa, and the Valentine second only to the Crusader amongst British tanks (at least in production figures). By the end of the fighting in Tunisia the Valentine was the most important British tank, although it was outnumbered by American tanks in British service, with the Sherman playing an ever increasing role.

The biggest surprise is that the Valentine was produced in larger numbers than any other British tank, accounting for one quarter of Britisn and Canadian tank production (although many of them were exported to the Soviet Union).

Although both types were outdated by the end of the war, both remained in use, with the Valentine perhaps more important in 1945 than the Panzer III (another surprise). Both were produced in a large number of variants, thousands were built of both, and both were the basis of self propelled guns the StuG and Archer.

We get a good set of chapters on the design and development of the two tanks, which show that despite their similarities, the Panzer III was always the more highly regarded of the two, with the Valentine often seen as a stopgap design on the Allied side.

Once we reach the combat section the focus switches to one particular campaign, the Allied invasion of Tunisia after Operation Torch. This saw Allied troops advancing from the west run into German troops attacking from the east in an attempt to prevent the Allies capturing Tunis.

We get a good account of the battle of Tebourba, where the counter-attacking Germans ended the first Allied attack towards Tunis. However I’m not sure we get any great insight into the balance between the two types of tanks – the battle involved the 2-pounder armed Valentine, which was inferior to the Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs involved in the attack, alongside a larger number of light tanks and US tanks. The German victory appears to have owed a lot to poor Allied leadership and poor coordination between US and Britisht troops, fighting alongside each other almost for the first time.

1 – Chronology
2 – Design and Development
3 – The Strategic Situation
4 – Technical Specifications
5 – The Combatants
6 – Combat
7 – Statistics and Analysis
8 – Aftermath

Author: Bruce Oliver Newsome
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 80
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2024

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