Military Wiki
SP 17pdr, Valentine, Mk I, Archer
Archer SP 17 pdr Tank Destroyer.jpg
SP 17pdr, Valentine, Mk I, Archer
front (and direction of driving) to left, engine to right
Type Self-propelled artillery anti-tank gun
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service September 1944 - ? (UK)
Used by United Kingdom, Egypt
Wars World War II, Suez Crisis
Production history
Designer Vickers-Armstrongs
Manufacturer Vickers-Armstrongs
Produced March 1943 - May 1945[1]
Number built 655
Weight 15 long tons (15 tonnes)
Length 21 ft 11 in (6.7 m)
Width 9 ft (2.76 m)
Height 7 ft 4 in (2.25 m)
Crew 4 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver)

Armour 14 - 60 mm (.55 - 2.36 in)
QF 17 pounder (76.2 mm) gun
39 rounds
.303 Bren light machine gun
Engine GMC 6-71 6-cylinder diesel
192 bhp
Power/weight 10.1 hp/t
Suspension coil spring bogie
Fuel capacity 50 imp gal (230 L)
140 mi (230 km) on roads
Speed 20 mph (32 km/h)
off road: 8 mph (13 km/h)

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.

Design and development

The 17 pounder anti-tank gun was a very powerful gun but also very large and 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 Challenger (and its post-war variant the Avenger) derived from the Cromwell cruiser tank, and the Sherman Firefly conversion of Sherman tanks.

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.[citation needed]The engine in the Archer had a higher power rating than in the Valentine.[2] 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.[3]

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 had the advantage that combined with its low silhouette, the Archer made 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.


This Archer tank destroyer was abandoned by the Egyptian Army during the Suez Crisis, 1956.

Production started in mid-1943 and the Archer entered service in October 1944. It was used in North-West Europe and (in 1945[4]) 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 as such was operated by the Royal Artillery (RA) rather than by Royal Armoured Corps units - as were British 3in SP, Wolverine and 17pdr SP. Achilles - during the war.

Post war the Archer served with the Egyptian Army. Surviving vehicles are preserved at the Yad la-Shiryon Museum in Israel, 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 BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) in the early 1950s.


  1. Archer accessed 21st March 2008
  2. Fletcher, Universal Tank
  3. British Anti-tank guns 1939-1945 Osprey p22
  4. White p17


External links

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