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"Underrated: The Universal Carrier & its service in the " Topic


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779 hits since 17 Oct 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP18 Oct 2018 8:53 p.m. PST

…German Army.

"The Universal Carrier, first produced in the 1930s, adopted a specific nickname during the first years of WWII: the Bren Carrier. This was due to the vehicle's armament which was a single Bren light machine gun.

Initially designed as an armored transport with a role in reconnaissance, this iconic WWII tracked vehicle was intended to carry into the midst of battle a crew of three or four, depending on the variant.

Later on, the Bren Carrier proved much more valuable as a support vehicle than as mere battle transport. It boasted the Bren gun as its main firepower, but it also sported Universal Carriers armed with Boys and PIAT Anti-Tank guns as well as 2-inch mortars….."
Main page
link


Amicalement
Armand

Lee49418 Oct 2018 9:19 p.m. PST

If you're a Brit it's underated. If you're an Anerican it's overated. If you're a German who cares lol … you lost the war. Cheers!

goragrad18 Oct 2018 10:48 p.m. PST

Amusingly, it is in a liked article that they show a couple of photos of carriers in German service.

Skarper19 Oct 2018 12:56 a.m. PST

Very useful vehicle. The battlefield became too lethal too fast for them to perform the dashing roles the infantry battalion's scout platoon was intended for without undue risk. But they were very handy platforms to have around. Better cross country performance than a jeep and slightly more protection. But I suspect they were quite expensive to produce and tiresome to maintain.

Murvihill19 Oct 2018 4:33 a.m. PST

113,000 built, someone must have thought they were useful…

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 4:58 a.m. PST

+1 Skarper – saved me some typing!

athun2519 Oct 2018 5:42 a.m. PST

Save your nickles and dimes. A real 1943 Universal carrier is going for sale at no reserve at Mecum auction in Chicago later this month. Something called a Burma Jeep, too.

Fred Cartwright19 Oct 2018 6:37 a.m. PST

The battlefield became too lethal too fast for them to perform the dashing roles the infantry battalion's scout platoon was intended for without undue risk.

Part of that was the misguided notion that light, fast vehicles nipping about the battlefield would be hard to hit. Same doctrine lead to the poorly armoured Cruiser Tanks. Odd thing is it keeps popping up. Same thinking lead to the lightly armoured Leopard I and AMX30. The Brits having had enough of lightly armoured tanks went with the Chieftain and 10" of armour instead.
The Universal Carrier was a very useful little vehicle. Low silhouette and some armour were ideal for reinforcement or ammo resupply of the front line. The carrier platoons also made a useful reinforcement/counterattack force, able to get to where the threat was quickly. Great little models to put on the table too.

Keith Talent19 Oct 2018 6:41 a.m. PST

Indeed, 113,000 produced.
More than any other AFV ever.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 6:51 a.m. PST

Agreed – most produced AFV ever and served in a ton of roles; in fact they were still being used by some countries until 1961!

uglyfatbloke19 Oct 2018 9:41 a.m. PST

…and they are cute. My wife has a Carrier platoon in 28mm for Bolt Action and it can be pretty tasty.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 9:42 a.m. PST

Super cute and required on the table!

Noll C19 Oct 2018 9:51 a.m. PST

I recall Sydney Jary ((of '18 Platoon') putting the case in the British Army Review c 1990s for the reintroduction of something similar, given the lack of survivability of softskin transport in any battlefield role. He was obviously convinced and as one of very few platoon commanders to survive from Normandy to the end of the war he ought to know!

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 10:11 a.m. PST

Glad you enjoyed it my friend!. (smile)


The idea with the mortar is good….!


Amicalement
Armand

UshCha19 Oct 2018 10:38 a.m. PST

War gamers tend to underrate a Bren carrier as they want to use it the wrong way AND most rules do not reflect reality well so that detracts from their actual performance when used correctly. The US assessment of British vehicles (too late to actually hit the field) noted that there was no point getting a carrier closer to 400 yds to the enemy as its performance did not improve. That means it was rifle proof, in that it could support from beyond most folks ability to fire effectively with a rifle. It had a measure of protection against Machine gun fire and carried lots of ammo. Hence it was an ideal support weapons platform for infantry. In some roles it carried a 2" mortar again capable of operating out of rifle range and with lots of ammo. Good to have around but most definitely not a tank. At those sort of ranges it is safe from many weapons like the Panzerfaust and needs a HMG or an anti-tank gun to take it out. Anti tank guns will be reluctant to give away their position for such an insignificant target. Excellent vehicle and very flexible.

Keith Talent19 Oct 2018 1:06 p.m. PST

Hmmm… A couple of days ago I witnessed a rather appalling conversation on a BA board about Bren carriers:
Some chap (innocently) asked why Warlord sold Universal carriers in a pack with 2 carriers and 10 infantry. His question therefore was how many men could get into a carrier. Could he get 5 men in each carrier? He was answered (reasonably) that the British army had a 4 man crew (sometimes 3 ) for a carrier, armed with a variety of weapons (Bren, 2" mortar, ATR/PIAT). This was immediately leaped on by a BA fanboi who said "no, don't worry about that- rule X, sub-section Y – Bren carrier transport 5 men, you make them all SMG armed, Elite, then charge then them into within assault range, dismount, fire, all in one activation…they are great!….I LUV Bren carriers!! They iZ SO Kool.!!!!"
The enquirer said "great! I can do what I wanted to"
It was hideous. I will never contemplate playing Bolt Action ever again.

Starfury Rider20 Oct 2018 6:30 a.m. PST

That 'tactical approach' is definitely not reflected in any of the training manuals or training films. The below links are to two films on the Australian War Memorial site, the first covers general characteristics (and suggests maintenance wasn't too much of an issue) and the latter actual deployment as seen around 1942ish (I don't think the film is dated as I recall).

The latter film shows the intended handling of the LMG, anti-tank rifle and 2-inch mortar and emphasises the use of the carrier to get an LMG from A to B under some degree of protection from small arms and shell splinters.

YouTube link

YouTube link

Gary

Legion 420 Oct 2018 7:28 a.m. PST

+1 Lee494 … I always thought it was a bit small. But the advantage of that is makes a smaller target. But I'd imagine those troops in all forces, e.g. US, UK, USSR, etc., the US Halftrack in all it's versions. Where probably a better "ride" overall.

War gamers tend to underrate a Bren carrier
Most gamers underrate any of their transports regardless. They once they dismount whatever they are carrying. They use them poorly after that, becoming targets, used for cover, etc. A mech unit losing it's mobility is critical.

They were designed to keep up the with advance along side MBTs, etc. Once you lose you "track" you are generally walking at the same speed Infantry has done for ages in the past. We fight combined arms from WWII on. Infantry and Tanks work best together in many/most cases.

Of course Infantry can always hitch a ride on Tanks, but that does leave them a bit exposed at times. And they can't maneuver as well to support the Tanks in some/many situations.

None the less we were trained to ride on the deck of Tanks if need be. And again dismount under cover if possible, base on again terrain & situation … as always … And it's better than walking generally until you start taking fire. But be aware of the 2 of 1 incoming shot.*

I've even thought to make a game more "realistic" the loss of an APC/IFV's point value should be doubled from it's initial cost.

Somethings gamers could/should do to reflect a little more reality on the gaming table, IMO [if they like :

Use terrain and don't move around in the open. If at all possible. That goes for most things on the board or even in reality.

*If you dismount too soon you lose your mobility … if too late you give the enemy a two for one shot. Killing both the vehicle and many if not all inside/outside of it. frown


Use suppressive and supporting fires while moving any distance. Even call in smoke rounds, etc.


APCs/AFVs should be placed behind cover to support the dismounts with it's own organic weapon(s). And of course again, move the dismounts from cover to cover. If at all possible. That goes for all MBTs/AFVs as well in general… again.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2018 10:28 a.m. PST

Thanks for the YouTube!….


Amicalement
Armand

Andy ONeill20 Oct 2018 10:47 a.m. PST

They were reasonably survivable when under fire. And of course some armour is way better than none.

13 of the things meant a lot of firepower. Often enough the armour didn't get tested so much.

The ba thing with 5 in a carrier is of course over the top. They were, however, sometimes used for coup de maine assaults against lightly held positions. That part is kind of believable. There again, this is nwe vs dregs. Very risky against a more substantial defender.

SeanWalker2REP26 Oct 2018 1:06 p.m. PST

There is a great write up of their use in the defensive battles before the evacuation of Dunkirk, where they were armed with Heavy machine gun and deployed to defend a canal. They hid behind houses and used crossfire to totally dominate the Germans trying to cross the canal.

Lee49426 Oct 2018 2:11 p.m. PST

Re gamers underrating transport. Not only gamers but many people. I'll be so bold as to argue that the vehicle that won WWII was the US 2 1/2 ton truck by various makers. More than 50,000 Sherman's or tens of thousands of T-34s (most of which would have run out of gas and bullets without US trucks to supply them), the "lowly" sturdy US transport trucks were real war winners.

Cheers!

Skarper26 Oct 2018 10:14 p.m. PST

Absolutely right Lee494.

Professionals focus on logistics for good reason.

Legion 427 Oct 2018 6:33 a.m. PST

Re gamers underrating transport. Not only gamers but many people. I'll be so bold as to argue that the vehicle that won WWII was the US 2 1/2 ton truck by various makers. More than 50,000 Sherman's or tens of thousands of T-34s (most of which would have run out of gas and bullets without US trucks to supply them), the "lowly" sturdy US transport trucks were real war winners.
Yes, as I posted most gamers underrate any of their transports regardless. They once they dismount whatever they are carrying. They use them poorly after that, becoming targets, used for cover, etc. A mech unit losing it's mobility is critical.

And yes resupply is critical to winning. If an AFV does not have fuel, ammo, can't communicate, etc., they are very big, heavy paper weights.

As far as trucks, they are rather fragile. So you don't really want to drive those too close to the front/battle. Dismounting troops again behind cover and concealment. And then they walk again under cover & concealment. Trucks generally don't make good APCs, obviously. evil grin


However, truck loads of ammo, parts, POL, food, water, etc. again makes the difference between winning or losing. E.g. the DAK and Italian Forces in North Africa.


Professionals focus on logistics for good reason.
Yes, that was a standard that we were taught and practiced. I've run resupply/log ops in the ROK for a Mech Bn. Then once back in the US, lead maint/recovery/repair, supply & transport, log ops for a Mech Bn then Mech Bde. Not as "sexy" as when I was a Plt Ldr or Co Cdr though … evil grin

Legion 427 Oct 2018 6:45 a.m. PST

Re gamers underrating transport. Not only gamers but many people. I'll be so bold as to argue that the vehicle that won WWII was the US 2 1/2 ton truck by various makers. More than 50,000 Sherman's or tens of thousands of T-34s (most of which would have run out of gas and bullets without US trucks to supply them), the "lowly" sturdy US transport trucks were real war winners.
Yes, as I posted most gamers underrate any of their transports regardless. They once they dismount whatever they are carrying. They use them poorly after that, becoming targets, used for cover, etc. A mech unit losing it's mobility is critical.

And yes resupply is critical to winning. If an AFV does not have fuel, ammo, can't communicate they are very heavy paper weights.


As far as trucks, they are rather fragile. So you don't really want to drive those too close to the front/battle. Dismounting troops again behind cover and concealment. And then they walk again under cover & concealment. Trucks generally don't make good APCs, obviously. evil grin


However, truck loads of ammo, parts, POL, food, water, etc. again makes the difference between winning or losing. E.g. the DAK and Italian Forces in North Africa.


Professionals focus on logistics for good reason.
Yes, that was a standard that we were taught and practiced. I've run resupply/log ops in the ROK for a Mech Bn. Then once back in the US lead maint/recovery/repair, supply & transport, log ops for a Mech Bn then Mech Bde. Not as "sexy" as when I was a Plt Ldr or Co Cdr though … evil grin

donlowry27 Oct 2018 8:08 a.m. PST

My carriers (Airfix?) came as towing vehicles for 6-pdr ATGs. Were they really used for that?

Starfury Rider27 Oct 2018 9:02 a.m. PST

The Loyd carrier was the 'book' vehicle for towing the 6-pr gun in the Inf & Mot Bns and Recce Regts. It's generally stated that the three D-Day Assault Divs used Universal carriers for towing their 6-pdr guns, seemingly due to issues with water-proofing the Loyd for a wet landing. I'm not sure if these were replaced by Loyds or held onto.

I remember putting the Airfix carrier and gun together balanced on a tray while watching the TV. One of the few kits I was happy with on completion!

Gary

Murvihill27 Oct 2018 9:12 a.m. PST

I think for units with smaller vehicles they would leave one seat empty. Usually there were more in a unit and if one broke down or got shot up the crew would jump in the spare seats on the other vehicles. At least that's the impression I got when I last looked at TOE's.

Thomas Thomas29 Oct 2018 10:46 a.m. PST

Bolt Action is a tournament game and not meant to have much to do with WWII combat. So discussion of proper use of "Bren" carrier in Bolt is pointless.

Games can simulate proper function of transport and therefore limit its ability to wander around trying to spot foes after dumping troops or getting hijacked by another unit to use as transport or being placed on roads to block enemy movers. All no doubt done once or twice but not standard practice.

I've still got several Arifix carries in service. And some of PSC's new Loyds in service.

Thomas J. Thomas
Fame & Glory Games

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