Bren Gun Carrier (Universal Carrier) -  Land Craft Series number 3

Bren Gun Carrier (Universal Carrier) - Land Craft Series number 3

Author
Robert Jackson
ARRSE Rating
3 Mushroom Heads
Robert Jackson is the author of over eighty books on Naval, Military, Aviation and Scientific subjects. He has been the Defence and Scientific correspondent for a major British newspaper publishing group and has written five volumes in the Tank craft Series and also contributed to the Flightcraft series. This is his first book in the fledgling Land Craft series.

Land Craft is the latest series of books by Pen & Sword, covering the vehicles not covered by the Tank craft Series. Volume 1 dealt with the ubiquitous Jeep, followed by volume 2, the M2/M3 Half track.

Of all vehicles used by Commonwealth forces (and some Axis), the Bren Gun Carrier (Universal Carrier) is probably one of the most well-known and well-used, not including the Jeep of course. From it's early prototypes in 1927 with the Carden-Lloyd tankettes to the eventual Carrier Machine Gun, No. 1 Mk1; the vehicle was found to be so useful, it achieved it's name The Universal Carrier.

Jackson gives us a good insight into the introduction of this famous vehicle, accompanying his text with some first class black and white photos and excellent coloured illustrations, eminently suitable for the model-maker, wargamer or general military historian.

In keeping with the "Craft" series, this A4 sized paperback contains 64 pages of subject matter divided into 9 separate chapters. The first two are concerned with an introduction and then the Design and Development of the vehicle. Chapter three deals with the different variants built around the base of the Universal Carrier. The main variants being; Machine Gun Carrier, Wasp flamethrower, OP (Royal Artillery), Scout Version and the Airborne version. Australia, Canada and the United States built their own copies of the carrier.

Of particular interest to model makers is chapter 4, The Universal Carrier in detail. This section contains some excellent 3D images with call-outs for the associated parts. The diagramatic sketch on page 15 is especially useful identifying numerous parts of the MkII carrier. A natural follow on from this is chapter 5, In Service and in Action, which curiously starts at page 16, is interrupted by Camouflage and Markings, Model Showcase and Modellling products, and then continues on page 49.

The Camouflage and Markings chapter shows some good quality, coloured illustrations of various carriers including early models, mortar carriers, the T-16 Canadian built carrier, the Australian 2 pdr A/Tk carrier, the Wasp flamethrower and an excellent rendition of a PanzerJager Bren 731(e) - a modified captured Bren carrier, featuring a rack containing Panzerschrecks and Panzerfausts and mounting an MG42 machine gun.

The Model Showcase chapter offers some brilliant models by professional model-makers, the Loyd Carrier by Michael Roof is particularly inspiring, showing some excellent diorama work and first-class finishing.

Modelling Products has as whole host of companies who produce the model, including; Accurate Armour - 3variants, Broncos - Loyd Carrier, IBJ have 4 variants in 1/72 scale, International have two Australian versions in 1/35 Resin, Resicast have 4 full models plus 6 add-ons, (nice, but expensive), Riich models currently have eight variants including the PanzerJager Bren 731 (e). Tamiya has two versions but both use outraged tooling so the finished product looks a bit bulky by modern standards.

The final chapter covers other Contemporary Light Tracked Vehicles, many of which were originally based on the Carden-Loyd Annette, including TK-3 (Poland), T-27 & T-37 (USSR), CKD/Praga T-33 (Czechoslovakia),CV-33 (Italy) and the Type 94 tankette (Japan). It seems that only the French used their own design with the Renault UE.

As is usual with any Pen & Sword "Craft" series book, you get a lot of useful information and pictures. Robert Jackson gives the carrier it's due without being over-sympathetic as to it's short-comings. It is an excellent book which will give any model-maker the right preparation to make a top quality model. If I have a criticism, there are no unit markings on any of the coloured images, something I feel is useful for the modeller so that correct placement of decals ensues.

I will rate this as a 3 out of 5, good but not outstanding.

Smeggers.

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