Sir John Valentine Carden survives.

10 December 1935. 19:00hrs. Croydon Airport, England.
10 December 1935. 19:00hrs. Croydon Airport, England.

Sir John Carden stepped off the Savoia-Marchetti S.73 and felt like kissing the ground. The last few minutes of the flight had been as scary as anything he had ever experienced. The pilot had apologised to the people on board for the difficulties caused by icing on the wings. It had been a close-run thing, but the plane had landed safely. Someone remarked that any flight you walked away from was a good flight. Carden reminded himself of this. He was making his way to his club in London for a day or two, then he was facing a long train journey north to Vickers-Armstrong in Newcastle, his employers.
 
So, thought I'd try my hand without ASB support.
There was a discussion on ASB about what would happen if the British had a Valentine tank in 1936, which got me thinking.
Having taken a trip to Bovington Tank Museum during my holiday I wondered if Carden survived the aircrash, and was actually responsible for completing his designs for the A9 and A10 cruisers as well as the A11 Matilda, what would happen if he tried to use the A10 as a basis in response to the A12 Matilda II specification. Without him Leslie Little designed the Valentine. What might have happened if it had been designed by Carden instead. That is what we will examine in this thread. I hope you might find it interesting.
Allan
 
Interesting! I’ll admit my knowledge of interwar tank designers is lacking, but a capable man in charge of Britain’s efforts in the 30’s can only be a good thing.
 
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i´ve never heard of him before either, but if he was more talented than whoever replaced him this could be interesting
 
This is my normal repost for this subject

A better Valentine.

Sir John Carden doesn't die in that 1935 crash, but lives.

In the test to determine a good engine for the cruiser program, the Napier Lion W-12 was tested, but not accepted, as it could not run on the low Pool Petrol of 63 octane reliably, while the Liberty V-12 could.

Sir John was not impressed with the new A.12 Infantry Tank specification that the Royal Arsenal was working on in 1936, and knew he could do a tank with nearly the same armor, but better designed and more mobile, based on his A.10, the better armored version of his A.9 Tank entering production that year.

So Vickers has a tank in 1938 as a private Venture, and updated to be a combined Cruiser and Infantry tank, all in one chassis, a 'Heavy' Cruiser 70mm armor basis on the front, 60mm sides and 25mph speed, back to what the A.9 had.

This would take more power than the 150HP 588 cubic inch AEC 'Comet' bus engine. Sir John heard from Colonel Martel at the War Office who was unable to get permission to get 600 surplus Lions from the RAF for £500. Vickers has no such financial or political limits, and acquires them

Sir John use the Lion, detuned to run on 70 Octane (as the US Army decided on in 1939 for all vehicles) It gets 400HP, and that engine is still in production at Napier for Marine uses, so has availability, but needed the rear deck had to be slightly raised and angled differently to house it and the relocated fuel tanks. Napier is contracted for making parts so the 'Sea Lion' could be used in Tanks, at a slightly higher HP rating, 500HP for later production

A Three man turret was adapted from the A.10, so the Commander could do his job unimpeded, while the gunner and loader could deal with their job
of fighting the 2 pdr or 3" howitzer, while having much thicker armor. It used an electric motor for traverse, mount balanced for the gunner to quickly adjust elevation by shoulder rest, as was demanded by the Royal Armoured Corps doctrine.

Was thought to allow better target following while on the move, think of it as Mark 0 Gun Stabilization. Had big downside, the gun had to be perfectly balanced. This meant an internal gun mantlet, that reduced the size of cannon that could be carried. The Sherman, as did most tanks, had an external mantlet and the guns trunnions located close over the turret ring itself for balance. This was balanced enough to allow easy turret rotation, even when the tank was on an elevation/slope.

BTW, OTL Valentine had a ring diameter of 1466mm , actually bigger than the T34/76 with 1420mm, so main gun has room to grow a little bit, and more than a bit, if the UK gets rid of the idea of gunners elevating the gun by it resting on his shoulder: free elevation.

The completed tank is 21 tons. It is 1938, and in trials against the A.12 built by Vulcan is found to be nearly as good protection wise, but twice the speed, but 4 tons lighter. Best of all, Vickers could build cheaper than Vulcan, and in larger quantities, if needed. It was easier to build by riveting, with few complex castings.

Some downsides were that the tracks were unreliable, with a number of pins sheared in operation, and the drivers preferred the Wilson gearbox on the A.12. It was decided by Sir John to switch from the 5 speed Meadows 'crash' gearbox to the preselector 6 speed Wilson gearbox, despite its complexity, and improving the tracks.

When War breaks out, Vickers has completed 110 Valentine tanks, while Vulcan has completed less than a dozen A.12.

Vickers could make 10 a week, and Sir John was sure that production could be raised to over 40 per week, once some of his associated facilities had orders.
 
I remember reading somewhere that there was something like 20+ hours of fettling on the Matilda II cast body to get things to fit!
 
A Three man turret was adapted from the A.10, so the Commander could do his job unimpeded, while the gunner and loader could deal with their job
of fighting the 2 pdr or 3" howitzer, while having much thicker armor. It used an electric motor for traverse, mount balanced for the gunner to quickly adjust elevation by shoulder rest, as was demanded by the Royal Armoured Corps doctrine.

Was thought to allow better target following while on the move, think of it as Mark 0 Gun Stabilization. Had big downside, the gun had to be perfectly balanced. This meant an internal gun mantlet, that reduced the size of cannon that could be carried. The Sherman, as did most tanks, had an external mantlet and the guns trunnions located close over the turret ring itself for balance. This was balanced enough to allow easy turret rotation, even when the tank was on an elevation/slope.
I must have seen this a score of times on this forum, but I've never seen an explanation of why "perfectly balancing" the gun requires an internal mantlet, with all the space issues that implies. Why not just move the whole gun forward, trunnions and all, until the mantlet can be mounted externally? Or if balancing the gun as-is requires the mantlet to be behind the trunnions, just add weights to the breach so you can move the mantlet forward.

Looking at pictures of OTL Valentines, the balance point appears to be at the mantlet and the mantlet makes up most of the turret front, so moving it forward shouldn't be a major design issue. If it causes issues with turret balance, either extend the turret backwards to balance or, again, add balance weights to the back to the turret.
 
I must have seen this a score of times on this forum, but I've never seen an explanation of why "perfectly balancing" the gun requires an internal mantlet, with all the space issues that implies. Why not just move the whole gun forward, trunnions and all, until the mantlet can be mounted externally? Or if balancing the gun as-is requires the mantlet to be behind the trunnions, just add weights to the breach so you can move the mantlet forward.

Looking at pictures of OTL Valentines, the balance point appears to be at the mantlet and the mantlet makes up most of the turret front, so moving it forward shouldn't be a major design issue. If it causes issues with turret balance, either extend the turret backwards to balance or, again, add balance weights to the back to the turret.
It’s not a problem balancing the gun. It is a problem if you want to balance the gun with the gunners shoulder. For the gunner to be able to manipulate it this way, it needs to articulate at the point of balance. If you are manipulating it some other way, then you can extend the gun out and use and external mantlet and focus on just balancing the turret.
 
This is my normal repost for this subject
A better Valentine.
Sir John Carden doesn't die in that 1935 crash, but lives.
snip

Well that pretty much short-circuits my TL. I'll just have to try to write it taking into account the parsimonious nature of HM Treasury and the lead-drinking nature of those responsible for tank development before and during the war. I'm using Mechanised Force by David Fletcher (HMSO London 1991); Death by Design by Peter Beale (The History Press, Stroud, 2009); Rude Mechanicals by AJ Smithers (Lee Cooper, London, 1987); and Valentine Infantry Tank 1938-1945 by Bruce Oliver Newsome ((New Vanguard( Osprey Publishing 2016 electronic edition Bloomsbury Publishing Plc) as my basic sources.
 
10 January 1936. 09:00hrs. Vickers-Armstrong. Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
10 January 1936. 09:00hrs. Vickers-Armstrong. Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Carden looked up from his notes, he’d come in early to finalise his drawings before the management meeting that was due to begin at 10am. The A9E1 had been plaguing his dreams, there were so many issues that needed resolving that he had been tempted to scrub the whole idea and start off with a fresh piece of paper. The problem was he was trying to design to a requirement that was at best wishful thinking, and at worst, contradictory.

The General Staff requirement for the A9 was for a Medium tank (though they were starting to call it a Cruiser tank) which should be cheaper than the A7 or A8; but have the same firepower and protection of the Medium Mark III. It shouldn’t weigh more than 7 tons, with a top speed of 25mph, have the ability to cross trenches, only need 14mm armour, and a single engine. Therefore, to keep costs down, Carden had tried to use as much off the shelf material as possible on the A9E1. The prototype had utilized as much commercial and readily available parts where possible. The engine was a Rolls-Royce Phantom II six cylinder 7.7l, a reliable option that produced 120 bhp and, in theory, driving through a Meadows five speed gear box, could propel the vehicle at the required 25 mph. Carden had adapted a fully hydraulic turret traverse from bomber aircraft production, the first in a British tank. Carden’s particular ‘bright idea’ for this tank was for a new type of suspension, mounted on road wheels of different sizes. Each bogie, there were two per side, had a large return roller, along with two slightly smaller rollers with coil springs. Each bogie had one larger and two smaller wheels, and this should provide the tank's suspension with a remarkable degree of flexibility.

The War Office specification had been changed in November 1934 to replace the traditional 3-pdr gun, with the new high velocity 2-pdr. To Carden’s mind the requirement retained, unfortunately, the front mounted machine guns that would provide 190° arc of fire. Carden wondered if the dustbins, as he called them, for two Vickers HMGs weren’t just a trap for the poor men stuck in them. It meant that the total crew was six men and despite the thinness of the armour, Carden knew that there was just no way all this could be brought in at the required weight, never mind the price that Vickers had promised. Looking at his watch he realised that the management meeting was about to begin and he grabbed his notes and drawings and rushed to the board-room.

The A9E1 prototype was nearing completion on the factory floor and it was due to be transported to Farnborough to be tested by the Mechanisation Experimental Establishment (MEE) by July at the latest. The issue on the agenda therefore was just how far off the requirement was the tank going to be, and was there anything that could be done, in a timely fashion to make it more likely to pass the tests it would be put through. The question was posed to Carden, who had to be frank and say that it was probably over-weight, but there was little or nothing that could be taken off the tank that would save 3 tons, without drastically changing the General Staff requirement. It was his strong opinion that deleting the two front turrets would be a good start to saving weight, but he’d been informed that Percy Hobart himself had written them into the specification.

The bombshell that the two turrets for the prototype hadn’t yet been produced was something of a dampener on the discussion. The manager of the project was quite acerbic in his opinion of the subcontractor whose excuses had been getting more and more outlandish for the problems with delivery. What was now clear was that they wouldn’t be ready in time for the trials, and delaying delivery to Farnborough would be counter-productive. Carden agreed, he had calculated the weight of the turrets with the heavy machine guns, and suggested putting in lead weights into the positions, which would at least keep the vehicle from being too heavy at the rear and light at the front.

Beyond that, everything else seemed to fully functional, and sending it off to Farnborough would go ahead as planned. Carden wanted to make sure that the prototype had enough time on the test track to test out the suspension and the lubricated tracks. Farnborough would give it a much more thorough test, but Carden’s concern was to make sure there wasn’t any particular defect that would show them up. He was assured that this would be the case, especially now that they didn’t have to wait for the front turrets. He asked for this to begin as soon as possible so that any obvious deficiencies could be rectified before the MEE testing.

Discussion turned to the progress on the
A10 specification. This had arrived a few months after the A9. Obviously, someone in the War Office was thinking that the 14mm armour protection, at best protecting it from small arms fire and splinters, was problematic. Another tank, with greater protection would be needed to support the infantry, and so a prototype had been ordered from Vickers. Carden had used the same basis of the A9 for the A10. Without the need for front machine-gun turrets, Carden showed his drawings, which provided a sloped front which allowed the thicker armour to be even more effective. The problem that Carden had identified was that the Rolls-Royce car engine wouldn’t be powerful enough to move the heavier machine at the required speed. He noted that the A9 was at the upper limit of what the engine could effectively move. The need for a more powerful engine had to be sorted, and sooner rather than later. The A10E1 prototype would start to be built in the next few months, as Carden was still looking for a definitive answer on the engine.

The other thing that had been on Carden’s mind was the
A11, yet another requirement that had arrived on his desk the previous autumn. The codename was Matilda, a small, two-man, heavily armoured tank that simply carried a machine gun. This had been an extremely easy design, almost a textbook exercise. Like the A9, Carden had used off the shelf stock parts, a Ford V8 engine, a Fordson gearbox, a steering mechanism similar to the one used in Vickers light tanks and suspension adapted from the Vickers 6-Ton Tank Model E. The prototype was being put together, there was going to be a problem getting the armour plate, but it was due to be shown to the MEE just after the summer. Carden wasn’t terribly proud of it, but at £5000 per unit, it simply showed that you got what you paid for. The fact that it wouldn't have looked out of place in 1918 also said much more about those providing the specifications that the designers who had to bring it to completion.

It occurred to Carden while he was working on the A10 and A11 that the two requirements were somewhat related. His initial design for the A11 had got him thinking about a even heavier A10. A tank with much better protection, but carrying a decent gun. It would need to be sufficiently mobile; it wouldn’t need to be too fast, but certainly faster than a pure Infantry tank. If he was right, the basics in his design for the A10 would be a good starting point.

The War Office had also put out the requirement for the
A12, an infantry support tank with a 2-pdr gun, but the work had gone to Vulcan Foundry. Carden wondered how they would get on, as they had no experience of building tanks. What he could see was that the A10 would be a reasonable basis for something like what they were asking for. It could well be worthwhile putting some ideas together in case Vulcan struggled to get it going. Talking over the idea with the management had raised some interesting ideas. The turret mounted 2-pdr was it was probably the best anti-tank gun in the world. But when he had been looking at the close support version of the A9 and A10, it was clear that the size of the turret limited any improvements. If a bigger gun was ever ordered, there would be problems trying to squeeze it into the current turret. The problem rose in part from the need to keep the tanks’ size within the limitations of the rail network, and the capacity of the army's bridging equipment. That would need some consideration.

Vickers had always had an eye on the export market and so the idea of designing a tank from scratch that might find a market, especially as the situation with Herr Hitler taking over in Germany, made the possibility of re-armament much more likely. Having a design ready to go, well protected, reasonably mobile and with the capacity to increase the size of the gun, would be worth the investment once Carden had cleared his desk of the A9E1, A10E1 and A11E1. Though no doubt each of the tanks would need a second prototype, each designated E2.
 
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I must have seen this a score of times on this forum, but I've never seen an explanation of why "perfectly balancing" the gun requires an internal mantlet, with all the space issues that implies. Why not just move the whole gun forward, trunnions and all, until the mantlet can be mounted externally? Or if balancing the gun as-is requires the mantlet to be behind the trunnions, just add weights to the breach so you can move the mantlet forward.

Looking at pictures of OTL Valentines, the balance point appears to be at the mantlet and the mantlet makes up most of the turret front, so moving it forward shouldn't be a major design issue. If it causes issues with turret balance, either extend the turret backwards to balance or, again, add balance weights to the back to the turret.
There was nothing stopping anyone from putting the trunnions ahead of rhe turret ring, until someone thought of it, like the Soviets did somewhat with the BT series, and then fully with the A-20 tank, prototype of what became the T-34.
Before that, Tradition!
 
I'll just have to try to write it taking into account the parsimonious nature of HM Treasury and the lead-drinking nature of those responsible for tank development before and during the war
But everyone thought very highly of Carden and his ideas, he was a wonder worker, and could do things that no-one else could have done at the time.
_The Great Tank Scandal pt.1_ is also worth a look
 
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It’s not a problem balancing the gun. It is a problem if you want to balance the gun with the gunners shoulder. For the gunner to be able to manipulate it this way, it needs to articulate at the point of balance. If you are manipulating it some other way, then you can extend the gun out and use and external mantlet and focus on just balancing the turret.
I get that if you want the gunner to be able to adjust elevation with his shoulder, rather than by cranking an elevation handle, you need to put the trunnions at the centre of mass of the gun (or rather of the gun/mantlet assembly, assuming that the mantlet is fixed to the gun and moves with it). And if you have a long-barreled gun that moves the trunnions forward, resulting in the breech of the gun projecting further back into the turret than you'd like.
But since on the OTL Valentine the mantlet looks to be less "internal" than "makes up the front of the turret", it's not clear why you can't get more space by just extending the turret fore-and-aft while keeping the trunnions in the same place on the gun. And yet, even when they were shoe-horning the 6-pounder into the late-model Valentines, they all had very small turrets with vertical sides and the balance point right over the front of the turret ring.

There was nothing stopping anyone from putting the trunnions ahead of the turret ring, until someone thought of it, like the Soviets did somewhat with the BT series, and then fully with the A-20 tank, prototype of what became the T-34.
Before that, Tradition!
Ah! Why am I not surprised?
 
Well that pretty much short-circuits my TL. I'll just have to try to write it taking into account the parsimonious nature of HM Treasury and the lead-drinking nature of those responsible for tank development before and during the war. I'm using Mechanised Force by David Fletcher (HMSO London 1991); Death by Design by Peter Beale (The History Press, Stroud, 2009); Rude Mechanicals by AJ Smithers (Lee Cooper, London, 1987); and Valentine Infantry Tank 1938-1945 by Bruce Oliver Newsome ((New Vanguard( Osprey Publishing 2016 electronic edition Bloomsbury Publishing Plc) as my basic sources.

Not only a British Tank time line but you've also sorted the contents of my letter to Santa this year. Cheers!
 
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