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"Bren, Scout, Universal Carriers - Someone Straighten Me Out!" Topic

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5,828 hits since 22 Apr 2013
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Ditto Tango 2 322 Apr 2013 4:39 p.m. PST


Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Apr 2013 4:57 p.m. PST

1) Yep.
2) Nearly the scout carrier was in the armoured recce regiment of infantry divisions they used a mix of scout carriers and Mk VI light tanks in 1940. There was also the Cavalry Carrier, and I can't for the life of me think who actually had them…. (Only 50-odd were made, and they weren't standard issue; at least one seems to have turned up in 4th RTR's HQ party, of all places….)
3) Yep. On the scout carrier the front "emplacement" usually mounted a Boys AT rifle though, not a Bren. (Its Bren was pintle mounted in the rear compartment instead.) Bren Gun carriers usually had one Boys per section of three carriers, vs one per carrier for scout carriers.
4) Yep.
5) Yep.
6) Near identical size to the universal.
7) Not huge differences; the Mk II had a mounting bracket for a 2" mortar, all-welded (and therefore watertight) hull, and usually a towing bar the latter's the only really obvious point. T16 and Windsor carriers had the extra road wheel (with the Windsor being longer than even the T16.)


Good summary of the various Universal types:

I can't think of a similarly convenient site for the early war carriers, but the differences are fairly apparent from models:
And the cavalry carrier more seats, no passenger protection at all:

Garand22 Apr 2013 5:05 p.m. PST


Leadgend22 Apr 2013 8:59 p.m. PST

The Australian built carriers were functionally the same as the normal ones but looked a bit different.

The Wikipedia page link gives a reasonable overview and has links to more detailed info.

GeoffQRF23 Apr 2013 2:59 a.m. PST

Probably doesn't help having a number of mislabelled photos on the internet :-)

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Apr 2013 3:57 a.m. PST

No, the "everything's a Bren Carrier" approach does rather complicate Googling them…. ;-)

bsrlee23 Apr 2013 7:46 a.m. PST

The early Australian made carriers did not have the track warping steering system, and consequently had trouble following shallow curves, such as roads. 'Later' production used the wheel displacement/track warping system such as was used in the Canadian carriers.

There was also a weird 3" mortar carrier where the mortar could be fired while mounted in the carrier, which also had ammunition racks around an extended fighting compartment. All were shipped to an unknown destination outside Australia, but no one can seem to say exactly where they went or who used them, only that the Australians never used them.

Jemima Fawr23 Apr 2013 8:44 a.m. PST

Wot Dom said. As has been said, the issue is complicated by everyone traditionally calling them all 'Bren Carriers'. The only people I've found still using 'propper' Bren Carriers by 1944 were two of the three Indian Cavalry Regiments in India, though there were udoubtedly others still hanging on.


I'm certain that they went to Chinese and British-Indian forces in Burma; The Chinese are definitely recorded as customers for them, though I've no idea if they were actually used in action or not. There is a photo of one being used by British 2nd Division in Burma during 1945 (the mortar is mounted in the 'barbette' where the commander would normally sit, so they definitely received at least one of them.

Jemima Fawr23 Apr 2013 8:45 a.m. PST

Here y'are:


Rod I Robertson23 Apr 2013 8:50 a.m. PST


This is a bren carrier model:


This is a scout carrier model:



This is a universal carrier model:


Bren carriers were used first to motorize a .303 Vickers machine gun and then as a general utility vehicle for infantry companies and above.
Scout Carriers were used by both infantry and armoured formations in a recce role.
Universal Carriers replaced Bren Carriers starting in 1940 and later replaced scout carriers too. Universal Carriers were used in both infantry and motor battalions of Armoured units.
Universal Carriers and Camden Loyd Carriers were used to tow 6 pdr AT guns. Universal carriers were later replaced by T-16 and Windsor carriers in the towing role c. 1944.
All universal carriers had three road wheels per side. Windsor and T-16 carriers which came into service in 1944 had four wheels per side.
For an interesting piece of history research Lt. Ayer's charge by the 7th Recce Regiment's carriers in support of the Stormont, Dundee and Glengary Highlanders against the 12th SS near the Chateau Louet in Normandy. Lt. Ayer's was an American serving with the Canadian Army and he was absolutely mad but had a glorious military career until his death in August of 1944.
Rod Robertson.

Martin Rapier23 Apr 2013 8:56 a.m. PST

"Here y'are:"

Oooh. Interesting helmet covers. Is that wire instead of netting?

Jemima Fawr23 Apr 2013 9:19 a.m. PST

Bill Slim's 'parajutes', which were low-grade and locally-manufactured (out of jute) parachutes used for dropping supplies in Burma, were often made into tarps, helmet covers and all sorts of things, so that would be my guess. And yes, they've clearly got some fence-wire from somewhere.

Skarper23 Apr 2013 12:02 p.m. PST

'BREN Carriers' – whatever they really were called – always seemed such a loony idea. A metal box on tracks with scant protection for those inside…. But they were clearly very useful and handy vehicles. They must have been fairly cheap to produce since so many were built.

They must have been a bumpy ride at high speeds cross coutry – and I've heard they turned over quite easiy leading ot many unecessary casualties.

Despite some games making them highly useful light attack platforms cos they are expendible in wargames while in real life they were vital for transporting ammo, supplies and wounded – I think it would take brave men to ride one under fire except for short dashes.

Jemima Fawr23 Apr 2013 12:10 p.m. PST

'Light Attack Platforms' is precisely how they were meant to be used, according to the manual. Well, being used as a mobile base of fire to support the dismounts' attack, anyway. Needless to say, this was generally a somewhat suicidal and wasteful approach in reality and Carrier Platoons were more often than not used in exactly the manner you describe bringing up ammo and food, while taking asualties back.

However, the introduction of the Wasp in the summer of 1944 (which often replaced the Carriers in two of the four Sections in a Carrier Platoon) did lead to a renaissance in their assault role!

Nevertheless, I've never heard or read a bad word about them by those who had to use them they seem to have been universally loved for their ability to go everywhere an give you a modicum of protection from mortar-splinters, which were the big killer.

Martin Rapier23 Apr 2013 12:12 p.m. PST

Armoured, tracked jeeps. What is not to like?

Jemima Fawr23 Apr 2013 12:53 p.m. PST

Very true – especially when they were present in virtually the same quantities as Jeeps. Every single British infantry battalion – even those in Infantry Divisions – had shedloads of them.

Elenderil23 Apr 2013 1:24 p.m. PST

Nice info guys. I hadn't realised that there were so many variants.

Trockledockle23 Apr 2013 1:38 p.m. PST

If you are really interested in British Carriers, a gentleman called Nigel Watson (who owns a running Mk 1 Universal Carrier)has written three volumes on them. This is a link to his website.

Lion in the Stars23 Apr 2013 3:07 p.m. PST

So, when building a Brit force, the rule is "you can never have too many Carriers"? :P

Like for the US: "You can never have too many jeeps and bazookas."

Jemima Fawr23 Apr 2013 3:12 p.m. PST

No, you can't. :o)

The Battalion Carrier Platoon alone had fourteen of the things, add to them the AT Platoon and Mortar Platoon, plus more at Battalion HQ, plus one in each Company HQ, plus more in attached MG Platoons, Anti-Tank Troops, Recce Squadrons, Artillery FOOs, etc, etc.

Etranger23 Apr 2013 4:06 p.m. PST

Further to Trockedockles post above there's a series on the "carrier story" by Nigel Watson currently running in "Classic Military Vehicles" magazine. Might be a bit easier (& cheaper) to find than the books.

Ditto Tango 2 324 Apr 2013 2:03 p.m. PST


Jemima Fawr24 Apr 2013 2:46 p.m. PST


The standard 3-inch Mortar Carrier had the mortar stowed outside, dismantled, on the rear of the vehicle and the interior was fitted out with ammunition racks. I don't agree with their comment that it 'could be fired from the vehicle'. Here's the mortar stowage arrangement:


I couldn't find an actual vehicle photo, but here's a model of what the interior looked like:


Here's an early Australian attempt at converting a standard UC:


And here's a home-built version:



Ditto Tango 2 324 Apr 2013 3:07 p.m. PST


Jemima Fawr24 Apr 2013 5:03 p.m. PST

It's suddenly occurred to me that the Australian designs both have the mortar mounted in the back, whereas the 2nd Div Carrier in the photo posted above, has the mortar mounted in the front. I wonder if they did receive Australian vehicles (of yet another design?), or if they just built their own?

On a semi-related note, the Indians turned many of their wheeled Carriers into SP mortar carriers.

spontoon24 Apr 2013 6:13 p.m. PST

Just to further muddy the waters, I grew up in a town with a " Bren Carrier" on a plinth in front of the Armoury. By the time I was ten I knew it wasn't a Bren carrier! Nor an Universal carrier. What it actually is is a de-turreted Stuart Mk.V used as a gun tower for 6pdr.'s. What makes it worse is that the blokes who put it there probably knew better!

Elenderil25 Apr 2013 5:32 a.m. PST

Any idea on exactly when the first Universal Carriers came into service in 1940?

Etranger25 Apr 2013 5:42 a.m. PST

The Australian 3" Mortar carrier used a modified chassis, as did the 2 pounder SPG. In the standard UC there was a dirty big Ford V8 motor in the middle of the rear compartment.most Australian built carriers did too. The modified chassis moved the engine forwards, leaving a wider rear section..

Ditto Tango 2 325 Apr 2013 4:43 p.m. PST


Timbo W25 Apr 2013 4:48 p.m. PST

Isn't it the case that the 'carrier' (in all its various forms) is the most-produced armoured vehicle of all time?

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2013 11:13 a.m. PST

I want to thank all who have contributed to this. I am in the midst of doing my UK forces for Northwest Europe 44-45 and quite frankly was a bit nervous about broaching this topic. Thanks for taking the lead Tim!

Rapier Miniatures26 Apr 2013 11:51 a.m. PST

Carriers when under fire had one astonishing advantage that just seeing a pic or being next to one doesn't really convey.

They are incredibly low to the ground, and given the propensity for automatic weapons to fire high, this was a life saving benefit.

Ditto Tango 2 326 Apr 2013 5:08 p.m. PST


wardog28 Apr 2013 1:25 p.m. PST

guys according to a book i have, the australian carriers used a engine imported from north american continent
so did it use a us 85hp engine or canadian 95hp engine

Rod I Robertson29 Apr 2013 10:26 a.m. PST

Universal Carrier production began in 1939 and Universal Carriers were in limited numbers in the BEF in France before May 10, 1940. But then so were Dragon Carriers, Bren Carriers armed with Vickers bow-mounted Machine Guns, Bren Carriers, Scout Carriers and Cavalry Carriers. British organization was pretty ad hoc in 1940 and rarely conformed with paper strengths. Just look at their tank units to appreciate the chaos that was British armoured organizations during the early war.
Rod Robertson

Rod I Robertson29 Apr 2013 10:33 a.m. PST

Were Dragon Carriers Carriers or Tractors? I don't know!
Rod Robertson.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Apr 2013 8:14 a.m. PST

Definitely tractors. They looked rather carrierish, but the utilisation was clear cut.

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