If there is one tier of class of vehicle I seem to have consistently enjoyed, it has to be the Tier III tank destroyer. I haven’t played one I dislike yet – indeed, as I recall I basically have enjoyed all of them. Maybe it is the fact that I play so much on the Marder II is that there is a certain degree of carryover that reflects positively on all of them. Regardless of the precise reason, once again in the Valentine AT I encountered a Tier III tank destroyer that I rather liked – but also rather different from its compatriots.
If there is one common aspect to all the other Tier IIIs – the Marder II, T82, Renault UE 57, and SU-76 is it their fragility. While the Valentine AT does share one vulnerability with its contemporaries – an open top gun mounting – it has one advantage: the Valentine all-round 60mm hull armour. The Valentine is generally regarded as a very well-armoured and its own Tier IV, so 60mm at Tier III is pretty effective – unless the enemy shoots you in that open-top of course 🙂 . So while the armour is impressive, it cannot be entirely relied upon – but even so when facing an enemy you can have the chance to bounce shells you usually would not be able to do in the other three. Especially if your opponent is trying to circle you, so is moving with a large aiming circle.
The side effect of the heavy hull armour is that the Valentine AT is by far the slowest of the Tier III tank destroyers, and indeed I think is one of the slowest vehicles on any battlefield it will ordinarily be involved in. In a very fast match this means one can be left behind, with almost all the action taking place far ahead of you. It is wrong to presume however that this commits you to being defensive – it just means that once you decide to attack up one flank or another in most matches you will not have the opportunity to redeploy. You just don’t move quick enough.
The Valentine AT starts out with a QF 6-pdr AT Mk II which is decent penetration, excellent rate of fire though very average damage. You should be able to damage most tanks you encounter right from the outset, though some of the better-armoured Tier V tanks may prove troublesome. The upgraded 6pdr is the top AP gun, and features a slight improvement to penetration and accuracy that makes it the weapon of choice if you wish to be a sniper. Due to its good accuracy and rate of fire I would consider the “easiest” gun to play with this tank, and it works well as a sniper.
However, myself I could not wait to try out the 3.7 inch AT howitzer – a lovely derp gun with the usual characteristics of slower rate of fire, poor accuracy, and a lot of potential damage. You will damage everything you face – including the Tier V heavies – and will be able to one-shot quite a lot of Tier III and IV vehicles (especially if already somewhat damaged). Of course, you have to hit and with the howitzers this is never a certain thing. Hitting moving objects is also involves a lot of luck, especially with HE shells travelling slower these days.
As to weaponry there is one final point to make – the Valentine AT has a great gun arc of 15 degrees either side. This gives it both an excellent ability to keep a short-range enemy in arc even if they are trying to circle, but also means when sniping one can usually avoid moving if one sets up properly before hand (and therefore reducing the chance of giving away your position).
My record wit the Valentine AT is 16 matches played, with 9 victories, and a total of 37 enemy vehicles destroyed. Along the way I got a de Langlade’s Medal, and a Confederate Battle Honour. I had a ton of fun in the Valentine AT, even more than in the T82. It should probably be seen more often than it is but the Valentine AT just hasn’t been around long enough for there to be a core of more experienced players for whom this is one of their go-to tanks. Also I think its slow speed probably works against it. Certainly I often see folks get caught out of position when playing it. Sometimes playing a very slow vehicle is more difficult than playing a fast one.
I don’t think I will retain the Valentine AT myself simply because I am already committed to the Marder II, but I do think this tank has real potential for anyone who wishes a low-tier Tank destroyer. I am sure there are quirks of the tank to be discovered and exploited – like its armour. Plus the howitzer is just pure derpy fun.