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Jun 6 10 11:39 PM

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Bren Gun Carrier

properly called:

The Universal Carrier

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The Universal Carrier, also known as the Bren Gun Carrier is a common name describing a family of light armoured tracked vehicles built by Vickers-Armstrong. Produced between 1934 and 1960, the vehicle was used widely by Allied forces during the Second World War. Universal Carriers were usually used for transporting personnel and equipment, mostly support weapons, or as machine gun platforms. With some 113,000 built in the United Kingdom and abroad, it was the most numerous armoured fighting vehicle in history.

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Cacadores

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#1 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:40 PM

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The carrier put the driver and commander at the front sitting side-by-side; the driver to the right. The engine was in the centre of the vehicle with the final drive at the rear. The suspension was a mixture of the Vickers light tanks' and Horstmann springs[3] Directional control was through a (vertical) steering wheel. Small turns moved the front road wheel assembly warping the track so the vehicle drifted to that side. Further movement of the wheel braked the appropriate track to give a turn.

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Cacadores

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#2 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:40 PM

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The hull in front of the commander's position jutted forward to give room for the Bren gun (or other armament) to fire through a simple slit. To either side of the engine were two areas in which passengers could ride or stores be carried.

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Cacadores

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#3 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:40 PM

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The Bren

Crew: Varied between 2-5 depending on the role of the vehicle. Length: 3.75m, Width: 2.10m, Height 1.6m
Power-plant:
Ford V8 water-cooled petrol engine developing 85 bhp. Armour: 12mm
Armament:
Usually one Bren Gun .303 or a Boys .55 Anti-tank rifle.
Performance:
Speed 50 kph range 256 km. trench crossing 1.6m

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Cacadores

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#4 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:41 PM

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A T16 in Canadian service


Initially, there were several different types of Carrier that varied slightly in design according to their purpose: "Medium Machine Gun Carrier" (the Vickers machine gun), "Bren Gun Carrier", "Scout Carrier" and "Cavalry Carrier". Production of a single model would be preferred and the Universal design appeared in 1940; this would be the most widely produced of the Carriers. It differed from the previous models in having a rectangular body shape in rear section, with more space for crew.

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Cacadores

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#5 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:43 PM

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Beit Jirja, Palestine. 1941-07. A 2/5th Battalion Bren Gun Carrier goes into action. Note the Bren gun protruding from the aperture at right and the Boyes anti tank rifle above the crew's heads.

Behind the two crew, were two rectangular compartments, one each side of the engine, these were used to carry a variety of stores and/or personnel.

Loads varied, and it was common to find the Carrier employed in a number of roles e.g. carrying ammunition, infantry support weapons such as medium mortars (81 mm), medium machine guns (usually the .303 Vickers machine gun). They were also used for towing anti-tank guns and trailers.

Because it was fully tracked, it proved to be a reasonably good, cross country vehicle and it was both agile and very fast, for its time. It was controlled by a small steering wheel and steering brakes.

Carriers were used extensively in every campaign during World War II. Such was their versatility, that many of those captured by the German Forces in France during the Blitzkrieg' of 1940 were quickly put to use in patrolling and policing captured territory.

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Cacadores

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#6 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:44 PM

Production

Production of these combat vehicles began in 1934 and it ended in 1960Before the Universal design was introduced, production was by Aveling and Porter, Bedford Vehicles, the British branch of the Ford Motor Company, the Morris Motor Company, the Sentinel Waggon Works, and the Thornycroft company.

The Universal was produced in Great Britain by Aveling-Barford, Ford, Sentinel, Thornycroft, and Wolseley Motors. By 1945 production amounted to approximately 57,000 of all models, including some 2,400 early ones.

The Ford Motor Company of Canada manufactured about 29,000 of the Universal Carriers. Smaller numbers of them were also produced in Australia (about 5,000) and New Zealand (about 1,300).


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Cacadores

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#7 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:44 PM

Variants

Mk. I
The original model.

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A wartime 'publicity' shot of an adapted MkI* in the service of a Canadian Motor Machine Gun Battalion. Note that all lighting and POL racks have been removed and the crew's personal large packs and duffles tied in in their place. Most likely, British or American jerricans have been secured to the back deck.
Note also the tow chain, spare tracking and stowage boxes which have been secured to the front of this carrier. the smoke discharger is visible below and to the left of the gun.

Interesting, too, the choice of helmets by the individual crew members: the corporal in front, and the man behind the Vickers gun both wear the 'carrier' helmet, which is an adaptation of the same helmet used by British and Canadian airborne troops and dispatch riders. The others obviously prefer the more traditional 'pudding bowl' style. Both are equally uncomfortable.

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Cacadores

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#14 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:47 PM

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A front quarter view showing detail of the spare bogie stowage, as well as the POL container and blackout lamp. Note the lack of steel step on this side, and the 'non-stock' mirror. Originals are hard to find. The MkII has a folding armoured flap at the top of the commander's position, above the slot for the Bren/Boys/PIAT.

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Cacadores

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#15 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:48 PM

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View from the left side shows some detail on the steel tubular hand rail which differentiates the MkII from the MkI. Two old ammunition containers have been employed for general stowage on the rear deck. If this were properly restored, there would be several stores containers located here; in combat, the chances are good those would have been dicarded or relocated and replaced with 'jerry' cans of fuel. Not visible here is the pintle hook arrangement; the Mk.I* had none, but the II*, T-16 and Windsors carried a hook used primarily for towing the 6 pdr AT gun.

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Cacadores

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#16 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:48 PM

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Detail of the Stacey Towing Attachment and rear stowage on a standard Mk.II*, which was the standard issue carrier throughout the war in Northern Europe. In British and Commonwealth armies, the Universal Carrier performed a similarly wide range of functions to the jeep in American formations, with the addition of towing anti-tank guns. Whatever its weaknesses, the carrier's armour plate permitted it to operate in environments which would have been deadly or intractable for thin-skinned vehicles.

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Cacadores

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#17 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:49 PM

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This MkII carrier was seen at a local MV show at Oshawa, Ontario, Canada on June 6th, the anniversary of D-Day. It differs from the MkI series in only minor ways. Note the difference in lighting configuration, and the addition of a step bracket underneath the vehicle number. Also visible around the crew compartment at the rear is the tubular steel railing welded on to the top of the hull plates; on the MkI*, padding was afforded by wooden strips bolted on to angle iron which was in turn bolted to the hull.
The vehicle is missing its POL container and rack under the near-side headlight, and the track skirts have been removed for ease of access to the track-adjusting mechanism behind the front idler wheel, a common practice.

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Cacadores

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#18 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:49 PM

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A flamethrower-equipped variant, using the "Flame-thrower, Transportable, No 2". The Mark I had a fixed flamethrower, Mk II had the projector in the co-driver's position. Both had the fuel tank within the rear compartment. The MkIIC (C for Canadian) moved the fuel tank to the rear of the vehicle.

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Cacadores

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#19 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:49 PM

LP1 Carrier (Aust)
Australian built version of the British Bren Gun Carrier.

LP2 Carrier (Aust)
Australian built variant of the Universal Carrier. Also produced in New Zealand.

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2 Pounder Anti-tank Gun Carrier (Aust)
The Carrier, Anti-tank, 2-pdr, (Aust) or Carrier, Tank Attack, 2-pdr (Aust) was a heavily modified and lengthened LP2 carrier with a fully traversable QF 2 pounder anti-tank gun mounted on a platform at the rear and the engine moved to the front left of the vehicle. Stowage was provided for 112 rounds of 2pdr ammunition. 200 were produced and used for training

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Cacadores

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#20 [url]

Jun 6 10 11:50 PM

3 inch Mortar Carrier (Aust)
The Carrier, 3-inch Mortar (Aust) was a design based on the 2 Pounder Carrier with a 3-inch mortar mounted in place of the 2 pounder. Designed to enable the mortar to have 360 degree traverse and to be fired either from the vehicle, or dismounted. 400 were produced and were ultimately sent as military aid to the Nationalist Chinese Army.

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An Australian 3 inch mortar carrier

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