The Self Propelled 17pdr, Valentine, Mk I, Archer was a British self propelled anti-tank gun of the Second World War based on the Valentine infantry tank chassis fitted with an Ordnance QF 17 pounder gun.

Class Vehicle
Type Self-Propelled artillery
Manufacturer Vickers Limited
Production Period 1943 - 1945
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1943
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1944 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Vickers Limited 1943 1945 655 View

The 17 pounder anti-tank gun was a very powerful gun but also very large, heavy, and could only be moved about the battlefield by a vehicle, which made the gun more effective in defence than in the attack. A version of the Churchill tank had been tested as a self-propelled gun; the "3-inch Gun Carrier" and the US was expected to be able to provide the M10 Wolverine through Lend-lease. Other projects were considered using obsolete tank chassis. Possible vehicles included the Valentine, for its reliability and low profile, and the Crusader, for its good power-to-weight ratio. In development were tank designs using the 17-pdr, which led to the Cruiser Mark VIII Challenger tank (and its post-war variant the Avenger), derived from the Cromwell cruiser tank, and the Sherman Firefly conversion of the Sherman tank.

The Valentine chassis was soon chosen, as it was in production but obsolescent as a tank in British use, and was also one of the few chassis that could accommodate such a large gun. The engine in the Archer had a higher power rating than in the Valentine. Since the Valentine had a small hull and it was not possible to use a turret, the gun was mounted in a simple, low, open-topped armoured box, very much like the early Panzerjäger German self-propelled guns in appearance, with the gun facing to the rear, which kept the length of the Archer short. The mounting allowed for 11 degrees of traverse to either side, with elevation from -7.5 to +15 degrees.

On firing, the gun breech recoiled into the driver's space, with the driver staying in position, in case the vehicle needed to move quickly. The rear mounting combined with its low silhouette made the Archer an excellent ambush weapon, allowing its crew to fire, then drive away without turning round.

The first prototype was completed in 1943, with firing trials carried out in April 1943. Vickers were given orders for 800 vehicles.

Production started in mid-1943 and the Archer entered service in October 1944. It was used in North-West Europe and (in 1945) in Italy. By the end of the war, 655 of them had been produced. The Archer was classified as a self-propelled anti-tank gun and was operated during the war by the Royal Artillery (RA) rather than by Royal Armoured Corps units, as too were the British 3in SP, Wolverine and 17pdr SP. Achilles.

Post war the Archer served with the Egyptian Army. Surviving vehicles are preserved at the Yad La-Shiryon museum in Latrun, National War and Resistance Museum, Overloon in the Netherlands, and the Bovington Tank Museum in the UK. The Archer served with some units of the Royal Armoured Corps in the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in the early 1950s.

Formal DesignationValentine 17-Pounder, Self-Propelled, "Archer" (A30)
Production Quantity655Production PeriodMar. 1943- May 1945
TypeTank DestroyerCrew4
Length /hull (m)6.68/6.54Barrel Overhang (m)n.a.
Width (m)2.76Height (m)2.25
Combat Weight (kg)16300Radio EquipmentNo. 18 WT, CSL/126/14
Primary Armament76.2mm 17-pounder Mk.IIAmmunition Carried52
Traverse (degrees)Manual (22° L, 22° R)Elevation (degrees)-7° to +15°
Traverse speed (360°)-Sightn.a.
Secondary Armament1 x .303 BrenAmmunition Carried720

Engine Make & ModelGM Type 6-71MTrack Links103/track
Type & DisplacementIn6, 6.97 litersTrack Width35.6cm
Horsepower (max.)192hp@1900rpmTrack Ground Contact310cm
Power/Weight Ratio10.1 hp/tGround Pressure10.3psi (0.72kg/cm2)
Gearbox5 forward, 1 reverseGround Clearance (m)0.41
FuelDieselTurning Radius (m)0
Range on/off road (km)145/121Gradient (degrees)32°
Mileage (liters/100km)156/188Vertical Obstacle (m)0.84
Fuel Capacity (liters)227Fording (m)0.91
Speed on/off road32/16 km/hTrench Crossing (m)2.36
Armor DetailFrontSideRearTop/Bottom
Gun Shield20mm@70°--open

End notes