Universal Carrier lot 0245

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One of the most prolific vehicles used by British and Commonwealth forces during the Second World War!

The ‘Universal’, or ‘Bren Gun’ Carrier, was manufactured throughout the war. However, the original design was British, carriers were also produced in Canada, Australia, and the USA. This specific model is from US Origin. American production of the Universal followed the same design as the British Marks I to III. It was an adaptation of the British Universal, which itself was derived from the earlier Carden-Lloyd carrier.

In Canada several versions were produced. The Mk.I and Mk.II, but there are only minor variations between them. These variations include style of handrail around the crew compartment, minor differences in armor arrangement, the fender skirts, stowage, and towing capabilities.

This is a nice opportunity to buy an older restoration Universal Carrier No-2 MKII from Canedian Origin, built in January 1944. The vehicle was used widely by Canadian British Commonwealth forces during the Second World War. Universal Carriers were usually used for transporting personnel and equipment, mostly support weapons, or as machine gun platforms.

However, the Universal Carriers never were used in the US Army the 1st US Provisional Tank Group have used 40 carriers taken over from the Canadian troop units when the Japanese invaded both Hong Kong and the Philippines! In addition, the Universal Carrier was one of the most prolific vehicles used by British and Commonwealth forces during the Second World War.

This Universal Carrier definitely need to some TLC (Tender Lover and Care) and service, but is relatively complete with original armor (Data plate January 1944). Except the left top front armor plates and the handrail on the crew compartment and some other small issues. Comes with a lot of spare parts. One road wheel is damaged and would require replacement. The engine is running but brakes and steering needs service, repaired. The engine bay side cover panels are not original. Some of the engine accessories are not original like the Generator, Air filter, fuel system and cooling system (changed to electrical fans). Electrical system is not original and the exhaust end pipes are damaged and would require repair / replacement.

This carrier has a lot of original parts which are often gone like the stowage boxes, rifle brackets, fenders, starting handle and others. An original Universal Carrier with  most of its original armor is hard to find these  days!

Furthermore, it comes with a lot of (spare) parts, a service manual, a universal carriers book, service instructions, and more! See the attachments for the items.

Current owner asked Tracks&Trade to take care of the sale of his Universal Carrier on an exclusive basis.

Note: The matching Canadian made Light Machine Gun Bren Mk II (1943) will be offered in this auction as a separate lot (Lot 0212).

New Tracks are, if required, available as offered in Lot 0249.

© Tracks & Trade BV the Netherlands, February 2023

2.1 Introduction
The Universal Carrier, also known as the Bren Gun Carrier and sometimes simply the Bren Carrier from the light machine gun armament, is a common name describing a family of light armoured tracked vehicles built by Vickers-Armstrongs and other companies. The first carriers – the Bren Carrier and the Scout Carrier with specific roles – entered service before the war, but a single improved design that could replace these, the Universal, was introduced in 1940. The vehicle was used widely by British Commonwealth forces during the Second World War. Universal Carriers were usually used for transporting personnel and equipment, mostly support weapons, or as machine gun platforms.

2.2 Design and development
The origins of the Universal Carrier family can be traced back generally to the Carden Loyd tankettes family, which was developed in the 1920s, and specifically the Mk VI tankette.

In 1934, Vickers-Armstrongs produced, as a commercial venture, a light tracked vehicle that could be used either to carry a machine gun or to tow a light field gun.
The VA.D50 had an armored box at the front for driver and a gunner and bench seating at the back for the gun crew. The War Office considered it as a possible replacement for their Vickers “Light Dragon” artillery tractors and took 69 as the “Light Dragon Mark III”.

One was built as the “Carrier, Machine-Gun Experimental (Armored)”, carrying a machine gun and its crew. The decision was made to drop the machine gun and its team and the next design had a crew of three – driver and gunner in the front, third crew-member on the left in the rear and the right rear open for storage.
Fourteen of this design were built in mild steel as “Carrier, Machine-Gun No 1 Mark 1” and entered service in 1936. Six were converted into pilot models for the Machine gun Carrier No.2, Cavalry Carrier, and Scout Carrier designs – the remainder were used for training.

The side valve Ford engine was in the center of the vehicle with the final drive at the rear. The carrier put the driver and commander at the front sitting side by side; the driver to the right. The Ford V8 side valve engine with four speed gearbox was placed in the center of the vehicle with the final drive (a commercial Ford axle) at the rear. The suspension and running gear were based on that used on the Vickers light tank series using Horstmann springs. The hull in front of the commander’s position jutted forward to give room for the Bren light machine gun (or other armaments) to fire through a simple slit. To either side of the engine was an area in which passengers could ride or stores could be carried. Initially, there were several types of Carrier that varied slightly in design according to their purpose: “Medium Machine Gun Carrier” (the Vickers machine gun), “Bren Gun Carrier”, “Scout Carrier” and “Cavalry Carrier”.

The production of a single model came to be preferred and the Universal design appeared in 1940; this was the most widely produced of the carriers. It differed from the previous models in that the rear section of the body had a rectangular shape, with more space for the crew

2.3 Production
Production of carriers began in 1934 and ended in the early sixties! It seems remarkable but approximately 31,300 were completed in the post-war period. Before the Universal design was introduced, the vehicles were produced by Aveling and Porter, Bedford Vehicles, Ford of Britain, Morris Motors Limited, the Sentinel Waggon Works, and the Thornycroft company.

With the introduction of the Universal, production in the UK was undertaken by Aveling-Barford, Ford, Sentinel, Thornycroft, and Wolseley Motors. By 1945 production amounted to approximately 57,000 of all models, including some 2,400 early ones.

Mechanically the same as the earlier carrier designs, the Universal Carrier was powered by a Ford Flathead V-8 petrol engine which drove the tracks via rear sprockets.
Steering was by lateral displacement of the front bogie unit for gentle turns, with track braking for more abrupt turns.

The new design, suitable for three men crew, incorporated improved armor plating all over the vehicle and particularly around the compartments on either side of the engine. Mud deflectors were located over the tracks and steps for entry were sited at the rear. Although the driver’s and gunner’s compartments were very much the same in all carriers, the position of the armored open-top rear compartments could differ.

For the Universal Carrier both British and imported Ford engines were used. Initially British and imported American-built engines were rated at 65-bhp and the Canadian ones at 95-bhp although by the end of the war the War Office rated them all at 85-bhp. Engines from all three sources were inter-changeable.

Some 40,000 or more Carriers of the Universal and later associated types were built in the United Kingdom during World War II but, such was the requirement that it was felt necessary for other Commonwealth countries to undertake production too. Some 29,000 Universal Carriers were built in Canada (Ford Motor Company of Canada known as the Ford C01UC Universal Carrier) to a similar specification to the U.K. version plus 5,000 of the larger Windsor Carriers. Australia built 5,600 standard Universal Carriers to U.K. design, where hulls were made in several places in Victoria and by South Australian Railways workshops in Adelaide, South Australia. Although they were simplified mechanically in that the track displacement device for steering was omitted, and later Australian carriers had a modified hull with a sloping glacis plate. Welded construction was used – a feature employed only in a few models built in the U.K. The earliest New Zealand carriers were built from plans sent from the United Kingdom, although later models would be more like the Australian ones.

The US Army, considering the Universal to be overloaded and underpowered, set about improving it. They developed the “Carrier T16”, with a longer body and track and more powerful engine; Although 2,600 T16s were built, somewhere the Americans had got the sums wrong and the T16 could not carry as much payload as the standard Universal, nor was it as reliable, so that few were ever put to use. In total factories in Britain, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand turned out roughly 81,700 vehicles during the war years, with a further 31,300 completed in the post-war period.

Ultimately some 113,000 Universals would be built by 1960 in the United Kingdom and abroad, making it the most produced armored fighting vehicle in history! The popular Universal Carriers were generally used to transport personnel and equipment, particularly support weapons, or as machine gun platforms. With modification kits there were a number of derivatives to allow for use as artillery observation post, mortar carrier or flamethrower (Wasp) and various marks and sub-marks whose only essential differences were in engines.

The Mark II version for instance included some improvements, such as a spare road wheel as a standard fitting, a larger kit box on the rear of the hull, and either one or two footstep brackets each side of the hull. Further improvements were incorporated in the Mark III carrier.

In 1942 an experimental version of the Australian carrier with a stronger, lengthened chassis was built as a mounting for the 2-pounder anti-tank gun. The Ford V-8 engine was brought forward alongside the driver and the gun, on a field mounting with shield, was mounted on a turntable at the rear. Trials of the 2-pounder carrier showed various faults; among others it rode badly, was slow and underpowered; was insufficiently strong and mechanical components failed; the driver was too cramped, and the crew and gun were inadequately protected. It did not, therefore, go into series production.

At least 2,600 were sent to the Red Army and were mainly used as armored personnel carriers (APCs), reconnaissance and command vehicles. The Soviets, however, criticized the type’s battlefield mobility, considering that the narrow tracks did not perform well in deep snow and mud.

The Universal Carriers which were manufactured in the United States of America for allied use the GAE and GAEA V-8 Ford engines.
About 20,000 were produced in the US. All US produced Universal Carriers were produced by Ford Motor Company, Massachusetts.

2.4 Operational history
The Universal Carrier was ubiquitous in all the theatres during the Second World War with British and Commonwealth armies, from the war in the East to the occupation of Iceland.

Although the theory and policy were that the carrier was a “fire power transport” and the crew would dismount to fight, practice differed. It could carry machine guns, anti-tank rifles, mortars, infantrymen, supplies, artillery and observation equipment.

It was used by many countries worldwide and saw service in the following wars:
• World War II
• Indonesian National Revolution
• Indochina War (later Vietnam)
• 1948 Arab–Israeli War
• Costa Rican Civil War
• Korean War
• Suez Crisis
• Biafran War

Location: & Collection

Current location of this object is Heythuysen, Netherlands
Local collection is available for this lot.

Depending on the destination the Buyer shall obtain an International Import Certificate / End User Certificate. Some of the items listed in the auction may require special licenses or permits or existing documents must be prepared for export. If this is relevant, Tracks & Trade will take care of this for you, with the applicable costs being passed on to the successful bidder
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This object is offered by Tracks & Trade pursuant to consignment sale on behalf of a private individual. Therefore, the margin scheme will be applicable, so no sales tax (VAT) over the hammer price will be applicable. For more info see General Conditions of Sale Article 9.

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Parts, accessories, and militaria

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Model Universal Carrier No 2 Mk. II
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company of Canada
Net Weight 3 ton 5 cwt (3.19 t)
Gross weight 3 ton 16 cwt (3.75 t)
Crew 3 (driver, machine-gunner and support)

Ford GAU V8 3.9-litre (239 cu. in.) 4 cycle, 90° L-head gasoline

85 hp (63 kW) @ 3,500 rpm

Transmission Spur gear, 4 speeds forward, 1 reverse
Suspension Horstmann
Max. speed 30 mph (48 km/h)

Length:  12 ft             (3,65 m)

Width:   6 ft 9 in       (2,06 m)

Height:  5 ft 2 in       (1,57 m)

Electrical installation 12 volt

Bren Light Machine Gun or others

Note: Armament is not included

Permit(s) Basically, not applicable
Documentation Manuals
Date of Delivery January 1944
Makers No. 26287
Original registration CT268262
Road registration Not applicable

Source: Tracks & Trade

Universal Carriers are and will be always very special vehicles on any military vehicle events, tours or shows.
Iconic and with an exceptionally attractive appearance, they often attract the attention of the public and are a pleasure to watch and, in good hands, to drive. They have a unique WWII appearance that makes them loved by many MV enthusiasts. Actually; the Carrier should not be missing in a serious MV collection. Despite the fact that relatively many have been built, there are currently only a very few left.
Where rides are frequently filled with jeeps, dodges and GMCs, you often only see one carrier at the most.
This example is, however delivered in running order, in need of some good care, maintenance and work from the new owner. However, if you cover this, you will fur sure enjoy it for years to come. After all, everything is basically there! In our valuation we have taken into account the additional costs and work as described above

 Estimated value:     between Euro 35.000,- and 45.000,- (December 2022)