WW2 British Tankettes

Loyd Carrier

United Kingdom (1939)
Tankette – 26,000 Built

Carriers were a series of utility vehicles produced during the Second World War. They fulfilled a number of roles including troop transportation, reconnaissance, and towing guns. Though perhaps thought mundane compared to other armored vehicles, Carriers were the backbone of the British Army in the war. They even found use throughout the forces of the Commonwealth and the American Military. Captured examples were also used by the Germans. The Universal ‘Bren’ Carrier, perhaps the most famous of these light vehicles, still holds the record for the most produced armored vehicle of all time at around 113,000 built.

The Loyd Carrier, officially the ‘Carrier, Tracked, Personnel Carrying’, was designed by Captain Vivian G. Loyd (1894-1972) in the late 1930s. It was not his first foray into armored vehicle design. Loyd had previously worked with Sir John Carden on the famous Carden-Loyd series of Tankettes.

A Loyd Carrier in the Bocage, 1944. Photo: IWM


The Carrier was part of a rapid-development program, so many of the carrier’s components were borrowed from other vehicles. The vehicle was designed around the drive systems of the 15cwt (0.84 US ton, 0.76 tonne) 4×2 Fordson 7V truck. This included the engine (an 85hp Ford V8 Side-valve), gearbox, transmission, and front axle. The track, drive sprockets, and suspension units were all taken from the Universal Carrier.
The chassis was also borrowed from the Fordson truck. Mild steel bodywork was added. A large, sloped, 0.27 inch (7 mm) thick armored plate (known as the ‘BP Plate’ in Loyd’s manuals) was placed at the front of the vehicle via bolts at the front and on the sides of the hull. This was enough to deflect small arms fire. Due to the sloping, it was also a little more effective than the flat structure of the Universal Carrier for example. A long stowage box was often placed in front of this sloped plate, above the exposed front axle. Pioneering tools were then stowed atop this box, with spare wheels stowed on the glacis.
The upper hull was enclosed at the sides and front but was open at the rear without a roof. This was not seen as an issue as the Carrier was not a fighting vehicle and, as such, did not need extensive protection or armament. A single Bren Light Machine Gun was sometimes carried for defensive purposes. There was an option to attach a canvas roof to protect the occupants from the elements. This was supported by a three-piece framework.


The Ford V8 engine was located at the rear of the Carrier, with the radiator behind it. The engine was located centrally at the rear, in a box-like structure. Passage into the crew compartment could be gained on each side of the engine. The drive shaft took the power from the engine forward to the exposed front axle, to which the sprocket wheels that drove the track were attached. Steering was simple.
Both the drive wheels and idler wheels (which were also sprocketed) were fitted with brakes for steering. Steering was not as complicated as the track-bending method of the Universal Carrier and instead was actuated by means of the steering tillers in the driver’s position. Braking the left track would turn the vehicle left, and vice-versa.
The suspension was of the Horstmann type, consisting of two double-wheel bogies mounted at the center of the vehicle. Single rollers were mounted atop the bogies to support the return of the track.

Variants & Roles

There were three types of Loyd Carrier, all identified as ‘Numbers’. The only major difference between these was the engine type. The rest of the vehicle remained unchanged. There were also two ‘Marks’ with different braking systems. The vehicles were used in multiple roles during the War, all with their own designations.


No. 1: 85hp British Ford V8 and gearbox
No. 2: 90hp US Ford V8 and gearbox
No. 3: 85hp Ford Canada V8 and gearbox


Mark I: Bendix brake system. A Brake system produced by the American Bendix Corporation.
Mark II: Girling brake system. A Brake system produced by the British company, Girling Ltd.


Tracked Personnel Carrier (TPC): Troop carrier variant. Able to transport 8 fully loaded troops or equal weight in cargo. Equipped with internal seating for troops, as well as seating on the track guards. Armor surrounded the entire compartment.
Tracked Towing (TT): The most produced variant of the vehicle. Predominantly used to tow heavy armament, such as the Ordnance ML 4.2 inch Mortar and the Ordnance QF 2 and 6 Pounder Anti-Tank Guns, as well as carrying their respective crews. It was equipped with four seats for the gun crew, and ammunition stowage on the track guards. Armor was only found on the front quarter of the variant. For a short time, this vehicle had its own unique title of ‘Tractor Anti-Tank, Mk.I’

Loyd Carrier used by the British Expeditionary Force in Belgium, 1940. Photo: RG Poulussen
Tracked Cable Layer Mechanical (TCLM): A variant used exclusively by the Royal Corps of Signals (RCS). It carried a large spool of telegraph wire. The vehicle was un-armored.
Tracked Starting and Charging (TS&C): A support vehicle to armored regiments. Used to charge flat batteries and help start tank engines. It was equipped with 30 and 12 volt DC dynamos driven from the gearbox. It also carried spare 30-volt, 300 amp/hr battery units. The vehicle was un-armored with the charging unit positioned against the hull plates on both sides. These vehicles were often nicknamed ‘Slaves’.

Illustration of the basic Loyd Carrier.

Illustration of the Loyd Carrier with canvas roof erected.

Both of these illustrations were produced by Ardhya Anargha, funded by our Patreon campaign.


The prototype vehicle was tested by the Army in late 1939. An initial order of 200 vehicles soon followed. Production started at Loyd’s own company, Vivian Loyd & Co. In later years, production moved to larger firms, including the Ford Motor Company, Wolseley Motors, Dennis Brothers Ltd, Aveling & Barford, and the Sentinel Waggon Works. In total, 26,000 Loyd carriers were built from 1939 to 1944.


World War Two

Early in the War, the TT and TPC variants were used extensively by the Royal Engineer Chemical Warfare Companies. However, most of Chemical Units were disbanded or re-purposed by 1943 to free up their 4.2-inch mortars for the regular infantry. The carriers were then assigned to units equipped with the Mortars.
The TT variant was the most common of the Loyd Carriers and was deployed in the largest numbers. From D-Day onwards, they were used to tow weapons like 6-Pounder AT guns from battlefield to battlefield. They saw action throughout the fighting in Normandy, and even in the famous Battle of Villers-Bocage.

A Loyd Carrier TT towing a 6-Pdr Anti-Tank gun passes a knocked out Panther. Photo:
In service with the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME), the carriers were often paired with Caterpillar D8 tractors for tank recovery. The Carrier was used to carry spare parts and recovery apparatus.

Post War

Like most of the carrier vehicles, the Loyd continued to find use after the Second World War in other armies. The Belgian, Danish and Dutch armies purchased Loyd Carriers from the British. Sources suggest that the vehicle remained in service with the Belgian army as late as 1963.
The Belgian Army also created their own variant of the Loyd Carrier. This was the CATI 90 (canon antitank d’infanterie 90mm). The 90mm Gun was produced by MECAR and was designed to combat armored targets. It could also fire HE (High-Explosive) rounds in an infantry support role. The gun was mounted centrally in the vehicle, with the barrel protruding through the frontal plate. It was in operation between 1954 and 1962, and operated with another Loyd Carrier in an ammunition carrying role.

The Belgian CATI 90, preserved at the Royal Military Museum, Brussels. Photo: Alf van Beem

Experimental Variants

There was an attempt to develop an Anti-Aircraft vehicle on the Carrier. This consisted of mounting four-to-six Bren Light Machine Guns at the front of the vehicle on a gimbal that could elevate to point skywards. The vehicle was never mass produced.
A slightly more elaborate conversion was the attempt to introduce the 25-Pounder field gun to the chassis. The crew compartment was completely removed and the gun introduced directly onto the bare chassis. A second vehicle carrying just ammunition would have worked with it. The recoil of such a powerful gun on such a light chassis would no doubt have caused the vehicle to react violently. This variant was never mass produced.

A surviving Loyd Carrier TT at the Cobbaton Combat Collection, North Devon, England. Photo: Author’s own


Dimensions 4.24 x 2.06 x 1.42 m
Total weight, battle ready 4.5 tons
Crew 1 Driver
Propulsion No.1 British Ford V8 petrol
85 bhp at 3500 rpm
Propulsion No.2 US Ford V8 petrol
90 bhp at 3500 rpm
Propulsion No.3 Canadian Ford V8 petrol
85 bhp at 3500 rpm
Speed 30 mph (48 km/h)
Armor up 7 mm (0.28in)
Total production 26,000

Links & Resources

Concord Publishing, Armor at War Series: British Tanks of WWII: (1) France & Belgium 1944, David Fletcher
Cobbaton Combat Collection, North Devon, England

WW2 British Tankettes

Universal Carrier

United Kingdom (1934-1960)
Tankette – ~113,000 built

Origins: The Carden-Loyd Mk.VI tankette

The early Carden-Loyd tankettes from 1933 were the very basis for the Universal Carrier. Originally, these machines were invented by Major Giffard LeQuesne Martel, who developed a prototype privately, for potential requests from the Royal Army Corp. He was a military engineer and a daring tank strategist.
After his demonstration to the War Office, the Carden-Loyd Tractors Ltd. company was requested to study practical production. They introduced a slightly enlarged vehicle for two men. Success with the prototype guaranteed their first order, with Vickers-Armstrong’s business network as a backup for exports.

Hello dear reader! This article is in need of some care and attention and may contain errors or inaccuracies. If you spot anything out of place, please let us know!

The last production version was the Mk.VI, of which up to 450 were built in all, from 1927 to 1935. The Mk.VI was the blueprint for the Universal Carrier. A hundred or more of Mk.VI tankettes were sold abroad.
Universal Carrier
The Universal Carrier was very adaptable and was used for a multitude of different tasks during WW2

Production: The Mk.I of 1934

The Mk.VIs in service with the British army were scouts, transports, machine-gun carriers, artillery carriers, mortar carriers and smoke projector carriers. Later on, experience showed that a single model was preferable to six or more, and a larger one was conceived by Vickers and approved in 1935 for mass production as the “Medium Machine Gun Carrier”, “Bren Gun Carrier”, “Scout Carrier”, and “Cavalry Carrier”.
Compared to the previous Carden-Loyd Mk.VI tankettes, they were enlarged, with the crew now at the front, driver and machine-gunner, and a large open gallery with a rounded end for all kind of loads. Up to five infantrymen or a gun crew could be deployed quickly.
The suspension was a mix of the standard Vickers type and Hortsmann springs. Production was assumed by Aveling and Porter, Bedford Vehicles (British Ford), Morris, the Sentinel Wagon Works, and Thornycroft. But the real production of the definitive standard “Universal Carrier” and first deliveries (Mk.II) came in 1940, just in time for the campaign of France.

Evolution: The Mk.II

The Mk.II tankettes were the production version of the many “Carriers” which were built from 1935 to 1940. This standard version had a square gallery and was versatile enough to accommodate all kind of military payloads easily.
They were always equipped with a towing device. The Mk.II was the most heavily produced, from 1940 to 1945, in Great Britain, in the Commonwealth and Canada under various licenses. Their speed and agility, but most of all, tremendous versatility, became legendary, despite their lack of armor and weaponry.
Infantry battalions were given 10 to 33 of these from 1940 to 1943 and motorized artillery battalions were entirely equipped with these vehicles, each carrying an ordinance antitank QF 6pdr (2.24 in/57 mm) gun.

The American T16

This was an American-built version, derived from those manufactured by Ford-motor Canada. They were sent to Great Britain and the Commonwealth under Lend-Lease. Up to 16,000 units were built with local modifications and improvements, starting in 1943. Many were rearmed with a heavy Browning cal.50 (12.7 mm) machine-guns.
Most of them were used by the Canadians as artillery tractors in Europe. After the war, surviving units were sold to Switzerland and the Low Countries.
Universal carriers were armed with a number of different weapons
Universal carriers were armed with a number of different weapons including Mortars, Bren Guns and 0.55 inch Boys Anti-tank rifles

Other variants

The main variants were a tank-hunter equipped with a Boys 13.9 mm (0.55 in) rifle, replacing the original Bren gun, which was often relocated to an anti-air mount
There was a heavy machine gun version equipped with the .303 (7.7 mm) Vickers machine-gun, also replacing the forward Bren gun.
There was also a flame-thrower version, where a pipe exhaust replaced the Bren, called the Wasp, and carrying the “Ronson Flamethrower, Transportable, No 2”. The Canadian-built ones were named Wasp Mk.IIC.
A gun version was developed especially for the Homeguards, armed with a Smith 8pdr mounted in a large sponson at the front.
A prototype of the strange “Praying Mantis” was also built and tested in 1943. This very low-profile vehicle was designed to fire from above walls or hedgerows.

The Commonwealth variants

Australia built, under license, no less than 5600 LP1 and LP2 versions, essentially some slightly modified Mk.I and Mk.II. The LP2 was also produced in limited numbers (520 units) by New Zealand. An antitank version, the Carrier, Tank Attack 2-pdr (40 mm/1.58 in) was produced (200 units), and a mortar-version, with the 3-in (76.2 mm) mortar.
The QF 2 pdr (40 mm/1.58 in) was fast and efficient, but its mounting required the displacement of the engine to the front. Most of them were used for training. The 400 mortar versions were sent as military aid to the Nationalist Chinese.

In Wehrmacht service

A few of them were captured in Norway, but most of the Mk.Is, later used by the Wehrmacht, were captured at Dunkirk in June 1940. Other various models were captured in Crete and during Rommel’s offensives in North Africa. German versions were dubbed “Fahrgestell Bren”.
There were many derivatives, but most were rearmed with an MG 34 or 42 instead of the Bren gun, in a standardization effort. Some antitank Boys rifle versions, called Fahrgestell Bren 731 (e), saw extensive service in the Afrikakorps, but later received, in Sicily and Italy, more efficient antitank armaments, like the 3.7 cm (1.47 in) Pak (sometimes the hull was covered with spare wooden protections), or Panzerschreck and Panzerfaust (mostly in 1944).
Another version, seen around airfields and gun positions was largely used by the end of 1944, the Fahrgestell Bren 731(e) Flak 38, with a 20 mm (0.79 in) QF anti aircraft mount.


The versatile and cheap Bren Carrier benefited from such a large production that many Allied countries were equipped with it. Exiled country armies were often equipped with it, like the Belgian, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Czechoslovakian, Norwegian, Greek and the French free forces. They received large amounts of Bren Carriers for various duties.
Before the USA provided enough vehicle to make a surplus (1943), the Bren Carrier was seen everywhere, under all flags. This dependable machine had another advantage. Being so light and relatively small, it could be carried like a Jeep in gliders. Many were used by commandos and paratroopers.

After the war

Around 81,700 vehicles were built during the war in all. 31,300 were produced after the armistice. The concept was very successful, in Great Britain, but also in many other countries like the Swiss Confederation, Netherlands (mostly modernized T16s), but also Belgium.


The Universal Carrier on Wikipedia

Universal Carrier Mk.II specifications

Dimensions 3.65 x 1.92 x 1.57 m (11.98 x 6.3 x 5.15 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 3.75 tons
Crew 2 (Driver, machine-gunner)
Propulsion Ford V8 petrol
85 bhp at 3500 rpm
Speed 30 mph (48 km/h)
Range 150 km at medium speed (93 mi)
Armament 7.92 mm Bren machine-gun (0.31 in)
Armor From 7 to 10 mm (0.28-0.39 in)
Total production 57,000 from 1934 to 1945

A camouflaged 1942 Mk.I Bren Carrier, here with an added anti-aerial Bren on the specially modified mount
A camouflaged 1942 Mk.I “Bren Carrier”, here with an added anti-aerial Bren on the specially modified mount. Click for the high definition illustration.
A Universal Carrier Mk.II heavily modified for desert combat with the VIIIth army, El Alamein, June 1942
A Universal Carrier Mk.II heavily modified for desert combat with the VIIIth army, El Alamein, June 1942. This version was capable of towing artillery like the ordinance QF 6pdr (2.24 in/57 mm). However, this vehicle was equipped with a long range radio for scouting, an anti-air Bren gun and, instead of the regular forward mount, a 13.9 mm (0.55 in) Boys anti-tank rifle. This added some anti-armor capacity, mostly against early Panzer II and III tanks and all Italian models, especially at short range, or from the rear.

An Australian LP1 Carrier in North Africa, 1942
An Australian LP1 Carrier in North Africa, 1942. Some of the LP1s and LP2s were used in North Africa, were their speed, sturdiness and adaptability were true assets in the desert. Others were affected to ANZAC battalions fighting from New Guinea to the Solomons.

An Australian-built LP2 Carrier converted as a
An Australian-built LP2 Carrier converted as a “Vickers Carrier”, with a heavy Vickers cal.303 (7.62 mm) machine gun instead of the usual Bren. The Vickers machine-gun was relatively outdated but could still sustain long, punishing fire as well as endure harsh conditions, even in North Africa. The secondary Bren is mounted on a telescopic arm, here retracted.

Canadian Wasp Mk.IIC. The British version of this well-produced (1000 units) flame-thrower variant, the Mk.I, was different.
Canadian Wasp Mk.IIC. The British version of this well-produced (1000 units) flame-thrower variant, the Mk.I, was different. The Bren emplacement was replaced by the orientable projector, relatively similar to the portable infantry model, fed by two 50 gallons fuel containers at the rear, inside the protective hull. The Canadian version was called Mk.IIC, and the 75 gallons container was external, allowing an extra crew member to be carried. These models were widely used during from 1943 to 1945.

A German captured Carrier Mk.I (Fahrgestell Bren), here converted into a
A German captured Carrier Mk.I (Fahrgestell Bren), here converted into a “Panzerjäger”, or tank hunter. In fact, this was a far more convincing conversion than the usual Bren 731 (e) equipped with the original Boys rifle. In this configuration, there were three Panzerschrecks (Raketen Panzerbüchse 43) arranged on a centerline triple mount, with many spare rockets, and also six Panzerfausts. Italy, summer 1944.


A Bren Mk.II mortar carrier at Bovington, where most of the Brens in the world are displayed
A Bren Mk.II mortar carrier at Bovington, where most of the Brens in the world are displayed – Credits: Wikipedia.
An Australian Mk.I derived 3-in (76.2 mm) Mortar Carrier. The rounded backside of the Mk.I is clearly visible
An Australian Mk.I derived 3-in (76.2 mm) Mortar Carrier. The rounded backside of the Mk.I is clearly visible – Credits: Wikipedia.
Australian Mk.I derived 3-in (76.2 mm) Mortar Carrier
Australian Mk.I derived 3-in (76.2 mm) Mortar Carrier

The Rocket-powered Bren Gun Carrier trials

Rocket powered gap leaping Bren Gun Carrier
The Rocket powered gap leaping Bren Gun Carrier had three rockets attached to each side of the vehicle
A rocket powered gap leaping Bren Gun carrier prototype was also built. It was designed to cross minefields and other obstacles by firing its rockets. It got cancelled after it kept landing upside down during trials. Because of this SADE experiment and the fact that a jet engine was fitted to the back of a Valentine tank, the Valentine Gap Jumping Tank myth evolved. The Valentine SADE rocket experiment was, in fact, a mine-clearing experiment using the blast from a jet engine to detonate anti-tank and anti-personnel mines.
The rocket-powered Bren Gun Carrier trials did not end well
The rocket-powered Bren Gun Carrier trials did not end well
Another SADE trial involved four rockets, two strapped together each side of a Universal Carrier. They could be set at an angle. The idea was that they would be used to help extract a vehicle that had become ditched, stuck in the mud or waterlogged ground. It was not successful.
Rocket equipped Universal Carrier experimental vehicle
Rocket equipped Universal Carrier experimental vehicle
British Tanks of WW2, including Lend-Lease
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