Self Propelled 17pdr, Valentine, Mk I, Archer
Silentstalker: Hello everyone, we have another guest article from Captain_Nemo here. Enjoy!
QA: Stream with the Chieftain Posted on December 9, 2013
- Archer and Achilles British tank destroyers will come.
The Archer is an unusual tank destroyer. It is unique not just in its layout of the gun on the chassis but in the gun itself. It is the British 17pdr. Now because of the gun alone the tank destroyer will never be Tier 4 material. It simply has too much penetration with the gun but more on that in a minute. Let us look at the background and history of the Archer.
The Archer was the second in a series of self-propelled guns produced on the Valentine chassis. The first design produced was the Ordnance QF 25-pdr on Carrier Valentine 25-pdr Mk 1, better known as the “Bishop”. The second design was the Self Propelled 17pdr, Valentine, Mk I “Archer”. The Archer is not quite the expedient hack job that the Bishop is nor is it nearly as bad as the hack job of adding a 6-pdr gun and gunshield to the top of the Valentine in place of a turret. The Archer was reasonably well thought out.
By 1942 everyone but the British had gotten on the Self-Propelled Gun and Tank Destroyer bandwagon. The British had however designed the 17-pdr gun high velocity anti-tank gun, back in the Fall of 1941 which was designed as the answer to the deadly German 8,8cm. The 17-pdr was approved for production in mid-1942. The problem was, for the British, to find a suitable mount for this long weapon from amongst the existing tank chassis then currently available in reasonable numbers. The Crusader was ruled out because it was too small and too underpowered to take the mounting, leaving only the Valentine chassis as an option.
The earliest idea for the Valentine chassis was to use the existing Bishop tank to mount the 17-pdr gun since the Bishop already mounted the 25-pdr howitzer and was already in production. This was quickly found to be a very bad idea do to the length of the gun barrel and height of the Bishop combined to make the Bishop even more unwieldy then it already was. I.E. High center of gravity. The Ministry of Supply asked Vickers to design a new self-propelled gun based upon the already proven Valentine chassis and at the same time overcome the limitations of dealing with the large size of the gun which was dealt with by pointing the 17-pdr over the vehicle’s rear. Work started in July 1942 and the prototype was ready for trials by March 1942. Firing trials were conducted in April 1943 and resulted in some modifications to the fire controls and to the gun mount. Once that was completed the vehicle was placed into immediate priority production with the first Archer coming off the production line in March of 1944. Once that was completed the vehicle was placed into immediate priority production with the first Archer coming off the production line in March of 1944 with the Archer entered service in October 1944. It was used in North-West Europe and in Italy, and was employed by the British and Egyptian army for many years after the end of the war. By the end of the war, 665 of them had been produced out of an order for 800. The Archer was classified as a self-propelled anti-tank gun and as such was operated by the Royal Artillery rather than by Royal Armored Corps during the war.
The fighting compartment consisted of a fixed armor plate superstructure (8-14mm thick at best) incorporating both the original turret space and the driving compartment. The gun could be traversed 11° to the Right and11° to the Left of the center. Elevation was -7.5° depression to a maximum of +15° elevation on level ground. One of the problems experienced with the Archer with the 17-pdr mounting was that the gun recoiled over the driver’s seat, and consequently the driver had to get out of the vehicle as soon as he had reversed the vehicle into a firing position another problem was the lack of overhead protection which crews were critical of.39 rounds of ammunition were stowed. In spite of its long gun, the Archer was little longer than the Valentine chassis on which it was based.
Use of the Archer TD in WW: The Units
First off: not much is written about the Archer TD. Period. Secondly, researching the unit that used it has been an unholy pain. Thirdly, I somehow ended up with another article topic for a future article. What information we do have from combat of the Archer comes from the 314th Battery, 105th Anti-Tank Regiment. Royal Artillery. British XIII. Corps operating under the command of the British 8th Army in Italy. Yes it is a bit of a mouthful but it’s all I got. There are also mentions of the Archer being used in indirect fire and direct fire, which happened a lot, once the HE ammunition for the 17-pdr was redesigned to fire the shell at a lower velocity. Once that happened, the Archer, just like the M10, was only too frequently firing HE at the Germans and Italians or taking out machinegun nests and pillboxes throughout Italy. From very late 1944 to early 1945 (Winter) the Archer was also used in North-Western Europe. Although I don’t know exactly where – yet. The only unit I know of that used it in North-Western Europe was the 20th Anti-Tank Regiment but information on them is even more sketchy then the 105th Anti-Tank Regiment.
The 314th Battery had made its start in Burma attached to the 7th Armored Brigade which was part of the 7th Armored Division. The 7th Armored Division was well known as the “The Desert Rats” and was previously called the Mobile Division when it was stationed in Egypt before the war. The 7th Armored Brigade, previously called the Mobile Brigade, is also well known for their nickname as the ‘Green Rats’ or the ‘Jungle Rats’ from when it went into Burma briefly in 1942. The 7th Armored Brigade fought all over North Africa from 1939, through 1942, against Italy and Germany and then it was shipped off to Burma to fight Japan. (I know I skipped a lot of “action” but this is not an article on the 7th Armored Brigade.)
The 314th Battery traveled with the 7th Brigade and fought a retreat from Burma to India and in the process lost all of its 2pdr. portee’s when it was forced to destroy them along the way. After that, the 314th was sent to the Middle East through India and Iraq eventually landing in Egypt where in December of 1942 it was placed under the newly formed 105th Anti-Tank Regiment. As to what they were doing between India and Egypt… IDK the only note I have was that they were doing nothing in-between India and Egypt in 1942 but I am sure somebody has info on them somewhere. The information pool is a bit dry on the best of days when dealing with units.
Now that we made it to Egypt lets go to Italy with the 8th Army. As previously mentioned the Archer was not operational until around October 1944. While the Archer was on its way the 105th in 1942-43 made use of 2 batteries of 6-pdr portee’s and 2 batteries of Deacon’s in the Western Desert and Tunisia. By the time it made it to Sicily in ’43 it was equipped with 2 batteries of towed 17-pdr’s and 2 batteries of towed 6-pdr’s. By the time it got to Italy it had been re-equipped again with 2 batteries of M10’s, 1 battery of towed 17-pdr’s and 1 battery of towed 6-pdr’s.
It was only in late 1944 (I don’t have a date.) that the unit was re-equipped with 2 batteries of M10’s and 2 batteries of Archer’s. Batteries in 1944-1945 consisted of 12 guns each.
Other known units with the Archer that I know of:
20th Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery
C-Troop 18th Battery 2nd Anti-Tank Regiment 4th Brigade 2nd Canadian Infantry Division
An Anti-Tank Regiment in the 15th Scottish Division
Use of the Archer TD in WW: The Action
As I previously stated the 314th was re-equipped with Archers in late 1944. In late 1944 the sharp eyes of one of 314th Battery’s Archers detected a Tiger tank and fired its 17-pdr at it. The round narrowly missed and the German tank commander, upon hearing the sound of the 17-pdr firing at him, quickly moved his Tiger out of sight behind a building. Unfortunately for the German commander the Tiger was spotted by a Lysander Air Observation Post which signaled down to the Archer the location of the Tiger behind the building. The Archer fired again and the shot went through the building and knocked out the Tiger by piercing its thinner side.
Soon this will be an all too common occurrence in World of Tanks. Minus the Lysander Air Observation Post ofc.
The Archer is a lot like the FCM 36 PaK 40, better known as one of the many options that made up the Marder I series. It is a slow tank destroyer packing a big gun, has good view range, an excellent rate of fire, it also has a very limited gun transverse, crew are killed easily and it should sit well back and or at the least not get spotted. And that is where similarities end. The Archer is low to the ground and is a compact design as previously stated. Being low to the ground it should have a good camo value. In fact we can see how other vehicles with similar profiles stack up.
How good a camo value you ask?
(Camo pulled to compare from http://www.wotinfo.net)
|Stationary Camo||Camo on the move||Camo after firing|
Archer stationary camo: I would give it 24. Would not think twice on this.
Archer on the move camo: I would give it 13.8-14.4. Hetzer and Jagdpanzer IV cant be the only sneaky thing around.
Archer firing camo: I would go with about 7.4-8. Because the flash will be noticeable when that 17-pdr goes off.
The Archers 17-pdr gun should be pretty devastating at Tier 5 if given a comparable rate of fire to the 8,8 cm Flak 41 L/74. That is to say the 8,8 cm Flak 41 L/74’s rate of fire times damage divided by the 17-pdr’s damage to get a fair comparison. (8.0 r/m x 240 damage / 150 = 12.8 r/m)
|The Gun||Rate of Fire||100% Crew||+BiA||+Food||Rammer(+BiA, Food, 100%)|
|(no rammer)||(no rammer)||(no ram)|
|OQF 17-pdr Gun Mark IIc||12.8||13.355||13.653||14.248||15.528|
|8,8 cm Flak 41 L/74||8.0||8.347||8.533||8.905||9.705|
|The Gun||Aim Time||Penetration||Damage||Accuracy||Ammo carried|
|Flak 41 L/74||2.3s(Stock)||194/237/44||240/240/295||0.32||48 Rounds|
|OQF 17-pdr Gun Mark IIc||11°Right/11° Left||-7.5° to +15°|
|8,8 cm Flak 41 L/74||5°Right/5° Left||-5°/+90°|
Note: On the 17-pdr I thought about using the TOG II’s Rate of Fire (12 r/m) but decided that it would be a hair too slow and that the RoF from Black Prince, Centurion Mk. I, Caernarvon(12-14.29 r/m), AT-7, AT-8(13.95-15.79 r/m) and AT-15A (13.95 r/m) was too high for a base rate of fire. The S35 CA’s r/mis 11.11 and I ignored this when coming up with this thing. The S35 CA carry’s 86 rounds of ammo compared to just 39 with the Archer.
This may, to some people, make it seem like the Archer with its 17-pdr is now a machine-gun-spitting-lead machine… Well it is, and it should be. What else did you expect? Gun transverse is not much better than the Pz. Sfl. IVc although depression is and that depression will be an important tactical advantage for this TD although it is not any better then the StuG III. Elevation is not bad either with a comparable arc to the Hetzer (-8 /+15°) and StuG II (-8/+23°) although I am not sure if those arcs are for the top gun or not. Accuracy should more then be on par with the Flak 8,8 as should aim time.
There is no way I would give it an aim time like the other 17-pdr’s in game (1.7s to 1.9s base) and give it the same rate of fire as those guns (13.65 r/m). That would be silly and stupid in terms of balance plus as a Tank Destroyer the Archer should be sitting in wait and then unloading it’s relatively small number of rounds quickly before driving forward to get away. (Remember the gun faces the rear of the Tank Destroyer.)
I plan on seeing at least three 17-pdr guns on the Archer with increasingly better specs.
|The Gun||Rate of Fire||Accuracy||Aim Time||Penetration||Damage|
|OQF 17-pdr Gun Mark II||11,11||0.36||2.3s||171/239/38||150/150/190|
|OQF 17-pdr Gun Mark IIb||12||0.34||2.3s||171/239/38||150/150/190|
|OQF 17-pdr Gun Mark IIc||12,8||0.32||2.3s||171/239/38||150/150/190|
For engines we can simply look to the Valentine tanks already in the game. Namely the Valentine, Valentine II (Russian LL Premium T4) and Bishop (UK SPG T5). HOWEVER, the Archer was an outgrowth of the original Valentine chassis and as such a more powerful diesel engine, GMC 6-71M, producing 192 hp was used in its production. In game this would be the Archers top engine. As for Radios it is the same as the Valentine’s with the use of the Wireless Set No. 19 Mk. II. Although I wonder if WG would add the Wireless Set No. 19 Mk. III to the mix to give the Archer just a little more radio range (550m vs 450m). It would make sense considering its low top speed.
As for camo the Archer needs all the camo it can get. If we use the 1/3 rule for the reverse speed of a tank then this thing is dead slow at 11kph. I think it should have all the camo it can get on the move and while sitting still. As for firing I have no problem with it losing a lot of camo due to the good sized flash that will come off the end of the 17-pdr.
For tracks I would expect the transverse to be something similar to the Valentine (UK) at 40-42° per second. If not the higher figure for the Valentine II (Russia) at 48° per second due to the lower vehicle weight compared to the normal Valentine. It should be quite the experience to drive and fire…
|Archer Tank Destroyer|
|Open Top||8-14mm thick at best (Includes area around the front with the driver.)|
|Radio||No.19 Mk. II (450m)|
|Engine||GMC 6-71M 192 bhp (Historical)|
|Tracks||14 inches wide|
|Track centers/tread||7ft 3 inches|
|Transverse (tracks)||40°-48° per second. Maybe less as it depends on WG.|
|The Gun||Mark II 17-pdr|
|RoF||11.11 to 12.8 Base.|
|Accuracy||0.36 to 0.32m|
|Elevation||-7.5° to +15°|
|Crew||4 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver)|
|I expect there to be several 17-pdr guns for the Archer with a starting base rate of 11.11 and moving to 12 and then to 12.8.|
The Valentine in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Bryan Perrett.
Vanguard 010 – Allied Tank Destroyers by Bryan Perrett.
British and American Tanks of World War II: The Complete illustrated history of British, American and Commonwealth tanks, 1939-1945 by Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis.