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Universal Carrier

Description

The Universal Carrier, colloquially known as the Bren Carrier, was initiated by Vickers in 1934, in a bid to replace the existing British Dragon artillery tractor, itself based on the Vickers 6-ton light tank.

The design featured the same suspension as many of Vicker's other designs, such as the Light Tank, Mk VI. It was accepted by the British army, where it entered service in 1936, and initially existed in three different versions: a Bren Gun Carrier, a Scout Carrier, and a Cavalry Carrier. To simply production, a single version, the Universal Carrier, appeared in 1940, which, with the Universal Carrier Mk II, was updated to include a towing hitch.

The standard universal carrier was equipped with either the Bren Gun light machine gun, or a Boys anti-tank rifle. In addition to this, a large number of variants were designed, including:

In addition to these official variants, captured Universal Carriers were used by the Germans and Italians. The Germans equipped some of the captured vehicles with either the 3,7 cm Pak or a triple Panzerschreck mount.

Production of the Universal Carrier continued until 1960, with about 57 000 carriers built in total, during which time it was readily employed by Commonwealth armies.

Technical Details

Universal Carrier
Crew
Crew
  • Driver
  • Machine gunner
  • Passenger
Physical Characteristics
Weight 3.19 t
Length 3.65 m
Width 2.06 m
Height 1.57 m
Armour
Armour (range) 7-10 mm
Performance
Speed (max) 48 km/h
Armament
Primary weapon .303 cal. Bren Machine Gun (1)

Images

Early Universal Carrier in pre-war trials.
Side view of an early Universal Carrier.

Further Reading

Sources

  1. CHAMBERLAIN, Peter & ELLIS, Chris. British and American Tanks of World War II : The Complete Illustrated History of British, American and Commonwealth Tanks, 1939-45. Weidenfield : Cassell, 2000. 224p. ISBN: 03-0435-529-1.
  2. LELAND, Ness. Jane's World War II Tanks and Fighting Vehicles : The Complete Guide. London, 2002, HarperCollinsPublishers. 239 p. ISBN 0-00-711228-9.