BREN GUN CARRIER (UNIVERSAL CARRIER)
Carden-Lyod Series: Universal (Bren Gun) Carrier
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
Makers: Major UK automobile manufacturers, also made in great numbers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA (where it was known as the T16, see below)
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.
The original role envisaged for the Universal Carrier was for a fast, lightly armed vehicle to carry infantry across ground denied by small-arms fire and specifically, the Bren light machine gun and its team, hence the name Bren Gun Carrier. (NB: A broad parallel can be drawn between that concept and the tactics of the APC (M1 L3A1) Troop which carried an Infantry Company. Each infantry section, comprising ten men [one section to a vehicle] possessed a light machine gun crew of three men and a BREN GUN, see below).
Bren Gun, the section level machine gun of British & Commonwealth forces WW2
There was only one version of this vehicle named the "Bren Gun Carrier" but whatever the task, the entire family of vehicles was known by its users as Bren Carriers. In fact, numerous copies of the original Bren Carrier were produced and these were commonly known as the Universal Carrier
The hull of these vehicles comprised a simple steel box with a motor compartment situated in the centre. In front, sat a driver and alongside him, a gunner. A radiator was mounted in a bulkhead between them, and the noise generated by the fan effectively drowned out any conversation between these crew members (NB: vehicles of this type were not fitted with any form of internal communications).
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.