Monday, 6 March 2017

Possible Bren Gun carrier conversions

Looking through my copy of MAKING TRACKS: BRITISH CARRIER STORY 1914 TO 1972 (written by Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis, and published by Profile Publications in 1973 [ISBN 0 85383 0886]) ...


...and UNIVERSAL CARRIER 1936-48: THE 'BREN GUN CARRIER' STORY (written by David Fletcher, illustrated by Tony Bryan, and published by Osprey Publishing in 2005 as No.110 in their 'New Vanguard' series [ISBN 1 84176 813 8]) ...


... I came across numerous conversion opportunities for the Airfix Bren Gun Carrier.

Britain
Before and during the Second World War the British and Empire forces used a variety of light tracked vehicles that had similar chassis to the Universal (or Bren Gun) Carrier. These included:
  • Light Dragon Mk.III: 69 were built pre-war. They were used to tow light artillery pieces.
  • Carrier, Machine Gun, No.1, Mk.I: Small batch built pre-war.
  • Carrier, Machine Gun, No.2, Mk.I: Similar to the No.1 Mk.I. Small batch built pre-war.
  • Carrier, Bren, No.2, Mks.I and II: Improved versions of the Carrier, Machine Gun, No.2 Mk.I, modified to carry the Bren Gun. Issued on a scale of ten per Infantry Battalions many were lost during the fighting in Belgium and France in 1940.
  • Carrier, Scout, Mk.I: Similar to the Carrier, Bren, No.2, Mks.I and II. Issued to Cavalry Regiments to act as scout vehicles alongside their Light Tanks. Many were lost during the fighting in Belgium and France in 1940.
  • Carrier, Cavalry, Mk.I: Designed to be used to carry the dismounted personnel of Cavalry Regiments. They had seats for six (three each side) plus a driver and machine gunner. Many were lost during the fighting in Belgium and France in 1940.
  • Cavalry, Armoured, OP, No.1, Mk.I: A modified version of the Carrier, Scout, Mk.I for use by the Royal Artillery. Many were lost during the fighting in Belgium and France in 1940.
In most cases converting the original model into these vehicles requires very few alterations to be made, and usually involve changes to the superstructure.

Germany
The Germans captured large numbers of British Carriers during the early years of the Second World War, and put them to a variety of different uses. These included:
  • Gepanzerter MG Trage Br 731 (e): Standard Bren Gun Carrier.
  • Gepanzerter MG Trage Br 732 (e): Standard Scout Carrier.
  • Mun Schl Bren (e) (Munition Schlepper): Standard Carrier adapted for use as an ammunition or supply tractor.
  • Mun Schl Bren fuer MG 08 (e): Standard Carrier fitted with a Maxim Model '08 machine gun. Used for airfield defence by the Luftwaffe.
  • Le Felad Tr Bren (e): Standard Carrier converted into a remote control explosive carrier. Most of the superstructure was removed.
  • Scneeschaufel auf Bren (e): Standard Carrier fitted with a snow plough by the Luftwaffe and used to clear runways. Most of the superstructure was removed.
  • 2cm Flak38 auf Fahrgestell Bren(e): Conversion of Universal Carriers into self-propelled anti-aircraft guns. A Flak38 20mm Anti-Aircraft Gun was mounted atop the vehicle's engine cover.
  • 3.7cm Pak auf Fahrgestall Bren (e): Conversion of Universal Carriers into self-propelled anti-tank guns. A Pak36 37mm Anti-Tank Gun was mounted atop the vehicle's engine cover.
  • Panzerjager, Bren: Universal Carriers that were modified for use as Tank Hunters. They were equipped with Panzerfausts and Raketen Panzerbuches.
Italy
The Italians captured and re-used various models of Bren and Universal Carrier, and were so impressed by it that Fiat built a copy (with one extra road wheel per side) called the Cingoletta Fiat 2800.

Japan
The Japanese captured a number of Carriers, and at least one was converted into a light tank.

Denmark
Post-war the Danes fitted several Universal Carriers with 106mm Recoiless Rifles. These were mounted atop the armoured engine housing.

There would appear to be lots of scope for all sorts of different conversions of the Bren Gun Carrier ... and I am sure that there are many more that I have missed off my list.

One such conversion is shown in the following photograph.


It appears to show a Bren or Universal Carrier that has been converted by the Germans into a self-propelled gun armed with a French 75mm M1897 Field Gun. Other than the photograph, I cannot find out any further information.

10 comments:

  1. I believe the Australians mounted a 2pdr gun on some as as a tank destroyer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Johntheone,

      There were several attempts to arm the Bren/Universal Carrier with a 2pdr anti-tank gun, and the Australian design was one of the more effective.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  2. Bob, if you can face putting an Airfix Bren carrier together you are a better man than I am. The Plastic Soldier Company version is by far the better kit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Conrad Kinch,

      The old Airfix kit might not be as good as the PSC one, but it's an old friend and I'm loath not yo use it.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Stephen Briddon,

      I've no idea ... but it isn't looking too bad for a 45 year-old!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
    2. I just saw a list of contents on Google books and it refers to the 'modern' infantry vehicles. There was me thinking the Bren Gun carrier was soldiering on into the 1970s.

      Delete
    3. Stephen Briddon,

      I thought that a few were still in service in a variety of ancillary roles until the 1970s.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  4. Happy memories, Bob! Some of my universals are still soldiering on as Soviet gun tractors. I've never been one to let a good kit get in the way of a dodgy conversion, and that '75 looks like the most optimistically overloaded chassis ever!

    Regards, Chris.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chris Kemp,

      I've seen some of your conversions ... and they look great to me!

      The 75mm does seem to look ridiculous on the Carrier chassis ... almost as much as the PaK40 did when they tried to fit one onto a British Light Tank! This was a one-off experiment that went no further.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete