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Universal Carrier (Bren Gun Carrier) Multirole Tracked Personnel Carrier (1939)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 9/24/2014

The Bren Gun Carrier was indeed a universal design - easy to operate and produce that some 84,000 units saw action worldwide.

The Bren Gun Carrier was truly a universal system at its core. Charged with moving troops through the harshest of conditions, the smallish armored vehicle found itself fighting on a myriad of fronts. Though not a perfect vehicle by any stretch (the system was fielded without any top cover), the Bren Gun Carrier was loved by all her crews and was produced to the tune of some 84,120 units in the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. The system also saw service in the Red Army and the German Army (the latter via capture).

Though universally referred to as the Bren Gun Carrier, the vehicle was actually designated as the Carden-Loyd Universal Carrier (hence other the used designation of Bren Universal Gun Carrier). As the Bren light machine gun was the standard squad support machine gun in service to the British Army, it was no wonder that the Bren Gun Carrier was fitted with one such weapon for self-defense. In essence, the Bren carrier was nothing more than an armed tractor, capable of hauling 4 to 5 personnel (or more in crucial wartime situations), supplies or wounded. Armor was relatively light throughout and, as mentioned earlier, no top cover was afforded the crew. In some cases, this covering was improvised by the crew to protect them from the elements. Steering was accomplished through use of a wheel as oppose to the levers found in tanks. This, naturally, made training of driving personnel a tad easier.

The vehicle would definitely go on to prove its worth time and again. The Ford 8-cylinder water-cooled gasoline engine provided enough hauling power on the worst of roads and in the worst of conditions. Add to this the well-designed suspension system and it becomes no wonder how this little vehicle made it into so many hands.

The Bren Gun Carrier was served with a single 7.7mm Bren light machine gun on a pintle mounting. The light machine gun could be swapped out in favor of the Boy's .50 caliber anti-tank rifle for defense and one variant in particular - the "Wasp" - was fitted with a flamethrower. Captured Bren carriers in German Army service were refitted and put back into service mounting the 37mm PaK anti-tank gun.

Bren carriers could be found on most fronts accomplishing just about any type of job including medevac, infantry support (mounting various caliber mortars), artillery tow vehicle, mobile command post and demolitions.

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Specifications for the
Universal Carrier (Bren Gun Carrier)
Multirole Tracked Personnel Carrier

Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: Aveling-Barford, Ford, Sentinel, Thornycroft, Wolseley - UK
Initial Year of Service: 1939
Production: 84,120

Focus Model: Universal Carrier (Bren Gun Carrier)
Crew: 4 or 5

Overall Length: 12.30 ft (3.75 m)
Width: 6.89 ft (2.10 m)
Height: 5.25 ft (1.60 m)
Weight: 4.8 US Short Tons (4,318 kg; 9,520 lb)

Powerplant: 1 x Ford 8-cylinder water-cooled inline gasoline engine generating 85 bhp.

Maximum Speed: 32 mph (51 km/h)
Maximum Range: 159 miles (256 km)

NBC Protection: None
Nightvision: None

1 x 7.7mm Bren Light Machine Gun OR 1 x 12.7mm Boys Anti-Tank Rifle. Also any personal weapons carried by the crew.

Not Available.

Carden-Loyd Universal Carrier - Proper Designation

Bren Gun Carrier - Accepted Designation

Mortar Carrier - fitted with either 51mm or 76mm mortar systems; anti tank weapons tow vehicle.

AOP Carrier - Armored Observation Post - Utilized by the Royal Artillery.

"Wasp" - Flamethrower Variant; first appeared in 1944; designed by R.P. Fraser.

T16 - US Production Models Designation

3.7-cm PaK auf Fahrgestell (Bren) - Captures British carriers in service with the German Army; fitted with a 37mm anti-tank weapon system.

Australia; Canada; New Zealand; Soviet Union; United Kingdom; United States