Mk I, ‘Archer’ Valentine Self Propelled gun
The Mk I, ‘Archer’ Valentine Self Propelled gun was designed and manufactured by Vickers-Armstrong’s. The Self Propelled gun was based on the Valentine tank chassis; although small it was able to cope with the weight of the 17 pounder gun. This was one of the few allied guns that could penetrate the armour of the Tiger tank. The ‘Archer’ was just under 22 feet long and 9 feet wide weighting 15 tons and had a top speed of 20 mph. This was a small vehicle with a big punch. It had a crew of four and also carried a .303 Bren machine gun. The engine was GMC 6-cylinder diesel delivering 192 horsepower.
The unusual thing about the Valentine Self Propelled gun was that the 17 pounder gun was rear mounted. The long barrel stretched over the engine compartment, this helped keep the overall length of the vehicle down, another advantage to this layout was that it made it a very good ambush vehicle. The Archer could lay in hiding from the approaching enemy, fire its gun and then drive away without having to turn around with the risk of being shot at. One disadvantage with this layout was, that when the gun was fired it recoiled into the driver’s space making it necessary for the leave his seat before the gun was fired.
The prototype was ready for testing in April 1943, production started soon after. The Archer entered service in October 1944, it was used in Europe and in Italy. A total of 655 of Valentine Mk I, ‘Archer’ Self Propelled guns were produced.