This offering from Pen and Sword as part of their Land Craft series looks at the Bren Gun Carrier Britainís Universal War Machine and is the third release in this series. These books are I feel an attempt to offer the modeller a combination package covering both reference on the vehicles and a look at the models and items available to replicate the Bren Gun Carrier Britainís Universal War Machine as a scale model.
This offering from Pen and Sword is authored by Robert Jackson, who I am sorry to say is a newish name to me, but that may be due to most of the titles he has authored cover aircraft and that my library on aircraft is limited. This is a soft backed book with a good card cover protecting 64 pages of semi gloss paper. The contents of this title are laid out as follows:
Development and Design
The Universal Carrier in Detail
In Service and in Action
Camouflage and Markings
Contemporary Light Tracked Vehicles
The first two sections of this title are short in length but do a good job of filling in the history of the vehicles and companies that lead the Universal Carrier becoming a common sight during World War 2. I had not realised that the people behind the Carden Lloyd Carrier had ended up working for Vickers up until the death John Carden and the working relationship between Vickers and Vivian Lloyd got to the point that he left Vickers in 1938. Also covered here there is a short section on the Bren gun itself and why it was preferred to weapons such as the Vickers heavy MG. The section covering Carrier variants is a particularly enjoyable if short read, but to think one of these variants had a flame thrower attached that would result in a very bad day for someone. Another nice inclusion here is an also ran in the form of the Mantis, one of these is preserved at Bovington Tank Museum.
The section looking at the Universal Carrier in detail was a disappointment to me, not due to what it covered but more in how it is covered. The Universal Carrier was built in huge numbers and there are quite a few preserved specimens around today that could be used for photographs, but while there are some very nice pictures included here most have been provided as 3 dimensional drawings. These do the job intended but I cannot help wishing a real vehicle had been used for the purpose.
The section covering the Universal Carrier in service and in action has been chosen as the split section and is one aspect of these titles that I am beginning to find a tad irritating. I as a general rule really enjoy the titles in this series and the Tank Craft series, but splitting a section by 32 pages means that unless you jump forward you forget what was provided previously. With that out of the way I have to say what an excellent selection of photographs are provided here covering staged, personal and in action shots that are pleasing to me as a modeller and who finds photographs like these make me get the glue out.
A short section inserted here covering the Universal Carrier in multi-angle views of a drawing format and designed to show the Universal Carrier from a camouflage aspect but also shows the markings present. The drawing all show the Universal Carrier from one side, the top, front and rear. One offering here that will really catch the eye or mine at least, looks at a captured Universal Carrier in German service and being used as an anti-tank vehicle, the camouflage shown is very appealing.
The modelling section of this title is another area that interrupts the flow, but this does cover an aspect that many will purchase the title for and it the reason I am looking over this title. The first model covered here is:
Universal Carrier Mk II, Royal Artillery Observation Post, By Timothy Neate in 1/72nd scale. This model is easy to mistake for a larger kit and only when viewed next to a £1 coin does the scale of this model come into effect. The work put into this model by Tim is stunning and the figures alone are first rate.
Lloyd Carrier, Anti-Tank Platoon, 1st Battalion, The Rifle Brigade, 22 Armoured Regiment, by Michael Roof in 1/35th scale. This is another great model due to the setting the model has been displayed in with infantry having a brew up and in a very natural scene.
Bren Gun Carrier, German Army, Benghazi, North Africa, 1941, by Morgen Violet-Harris in 1/35th scale. This is one of those models that I can appreciate the work done but it does not appeal to me visually.
T-16 Carrier, Liberation of the Netherlands 1945, by Patrick Bernier in 1/35th scale. This is another of the models that holds little appeal to me, but I love the subtle weathering and work done on the items on the inside which do give it visual appeal.
The section covering what is available in model form opened my eyes to just how many kits have been released by Riich Model in 1/35th scale, it is a pity that this manufacturer is poorly covered in the UK as they have released some nice offerings of this vehicle type. The effort put into covering a good mix of scales is also a high point in this area of the title.
I think that the Universal Carrier is one of those vehicles that is overlooked due to its diminutive size, but it was built in very large numbers and saw a great deal of service and so I am very pleased to see this vehicle covered. The mix of contents has been well considered as far as scope goes and I strongly approve, but I do wish the split chapter was covered in one hit rather than having two sections fitted into it. Even with that niggle this is a great title in the series and will I believe prove popular with anyone who takes the time to look at it.
Darren Baker takes a look at one of the Land Craft series of books covering the Bren Gun Carrier Britainís Universal War Machine from Pen and Sword.
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About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...