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LarryH57

Why was the Universal Carrier successful, when many other Carden Lyod types weren't

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If Carden Loyd type Tankettes such as the Soviet T27, Polish TKS and French UE (to name a few) were considered obsolete by 1939, how is it that the Universal Carrier was considered a success? After all the Bren Gun and Universal Carriers had similar running gear, armour thickness and armament and no over head protection so why don't historians have a negative opinion of these?

Edited by LarryH57

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I don't know that the carrier was exactly successful, but I believe that the answer lies more in their application than their capabilities; the carrier was designed to go up against infantry, where it had reasonable capabilities, while a tank is designed to go up against other tanks.

 

Cheers,

Terry

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Universal Carriers were used more for transporting men and equipment, like a tracked jeep. They could do some support roles in combat but they were not to be considered as armoured 'tank' type vehicles.

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carrier running gear and engine is different to the carden loyd ! the bren carrier has good speed, good armour and can pretty much go anywhere. it's this combination that made them successful and although not perfect they were good enough to be popular with the men that drove them, a good all round work horse and fun to drive :)

 

rick

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I would say that they were not successful. They were basically a maid of all work but master of none.

 

They offered minimal armour protection, had limited space inside and if you read any war-time regimental history once the tracks had about 500 miles on they were very prone to breaking. The engines and transmissions must have also been very stressed with limited lives especially once they started using them as gun towers and or over loaded them.

 

Up to an equivalent wheeled vehicle they were expensive to build and maintain in the field. They were a pre-war design which just became self perpetuating because there was a perceived role with no immediate replacement. In most roles they disappeared rapidly after the war.

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I'd say it was their adaptability & arguably, until the US M3 halftrack & its variants was available, nothing to replace it with.

It wasn't a "light tank" or tankette, like the TKS & T27. OK, it could carry a Bren or Boys, they were dismountable, unlike the weapons on the "proper" tankettes.

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the carrier was the most numerous armoured vehicle in history ! somebody must have thought they had a role :)

 

they were good at what they did which is move weapon systems from one part of the battlefield to the other whilst under fire. I can't think of any other british vehicle that could fulfil the same role

as to reliability the engine and transmission is excellent and all the carriers you see around now still have the original tracks (no one can afford to have new ones made) they just last forever which is why there are so many about. I've owned a couple and not struggled with anything. the only thing I would say they suffer from is a lack of power when the going is heavy but if you up rate the hp everything else needs to be beefed up and you lose the simplicity and ease of manufacturing (engine gearbox and axle are standard ford truck parts) it's a good compromise but then again I am a little biased.

 

rick

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Apropos of nothing, you may be interested by a passage from the History of 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars 1939-1945:

[in 1939] Our War Establishment as a Divisional Cavalry Regiment gave us a strength of twenty-one officers and four hundred and thirty-four other ranks, including attached troops. The three Sabre Squadrons each had a Fighting Headquarters and six Troops-FHQ of two tanks and one carrier, two tank Troops of three tanks each, and four carrier Troops of three carriers each-total eight tanks and thirteen carriers, each with a crew of three or four men.

 

RHQ consisted of four tanks and three carriers. Intercommunication was in the hands of about thirty DRs, many of whom had been members of the Regimental Band: each tank was also equipped with a Number 11 wireless set, but each carrier Troop had one only, for the Troop Leader. In each Sabre Squadron there were only two subaltern officers, the remaining four Troops being commanded by TSMs (WO 111) or by Sergeants.

 

 

Our armament was ridiculously light-in the Light Tank Mark VIb only two machine guns (.5 and .303 Vickers) and in each carrier one Bren LMG and one Boys -55 anti-tank rifle.

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Universal Carriers were used more for transporting men and equipment, like a tracked jeep. They could do some support roles in combat but they were not to be considered as armoured 'tank' type vehicles.

 

Hit the nail on the head here , clues in the name ' carrier' not a fighting vehicle , designed to carry the infantry's heavy weapons ( not The Infantry) in the field .

However they did give the infantry an armoured vehicle of their own and certainly with the BEF were used to good effect in offensive roles against German infantry, specially in rearguard actions .

Being so small , low and fast they were also difficult vehicles to hit. Despite the bright BEF idea of painting large white 'target' squares centre front and sides for recognition !

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Not forgetting they must have been very cheap and quick to build.

 

An example is the steering as someone said ' Never had a mechanism been invented which could remove tracks with such regularity.'

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