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Valentine Duplex Drive (DD) Amphibious Tank

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Development and Operation

D-Day Valentine tank, WWII, with screen raised.Floating Valentine Duplex Drive (DD) tank with its screen raised. IWM photo.

The DD tank was one of the specialized assault vehicles developed to support the Allied invasion of Normandy.

The British Valentine, being the most advanced British tank at the time, was the second tank to be used by engineer Nicholas Straussler to develop a floating tank. It was on the Valentine that the flotation screen was improved to accommodate larger tanks and a more practical means of operating the propeller from inside the tank was introduced.

To operate the tank in water, its gun was brought to full elevation, after which the side tubes were inflated to raise the screen. After the supporting struts were locked in place, the bilge pump engaged, and the propeller lowered, the tank was ready to be driven down the ramp until it was floating. There was "…. a pressure-operated depth gauge near the front of the tank that was visible through the driver's periscope. Once it inflated the driver knew he was in water over 3 ft deep and therefore effectively afloat". 1

Training and Eventual Obsolescence

D-Day Valentine tank, WWII, screen down.Valentine Duplex Drive (DD) tank with its screen lowered. Sgt Stubbs, War Office official photographer.

In April 1943, Major-General Sir Percy Hobart took charge of the 79th Armored Division which included most of the specialized armor, and training with the Valentine DD tank soon commenced. Fresh water locations were used in the beginning, but eventually crews were trained at sea, in various locations. A decision was made during this time to use the Sherman tank in place of the the Valentine which was becoming obsolete.

Valentine (DD) Amphibious Tank in Active Service

Throughout the war the Valentine (DD) swimming tank saw active service only one time. During the crossing of the Rivers Po and Adige in April 1945, two Valentine DDs "were used to bring up 400 gallons of diesel fuel for the Shermans." 2

1 David Fletcher, Swimming Shermans: Sherman DD Amphibious Tanks of World War II, New York: Osprey Publishing 2006, pp.12-13.

2 Ibid. p. 38.