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Re: Richie's Little Tank

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:11 am
by Renegadenemo
I know the background but that's the first time I've seen a pic of Granddad - the family resemblance is there without a doubt.

My hero was my uncle Phil, not a real uncle, an adopted neighbour, but a survivor of two sinkings and every Arctic convoy except the disastrous PQ17, which he managed not to be on due to his allotted leave.
He was torpedoed aboard the fleet oiler Gray Ranger and was in the process of being rescued by the Bellingham when it too was hit.
Eventually he was rescued by the Rathlin - a shallow draft Clyde steamer that was immune to torpedoes because they couldn't be set to run close enough to the surface to hit her.
Uncle Phil found a warm spot next to the funnel where he could stand until the gallant little steamer landed them in Iceland and was to his dying day more concerned about the badly wounded below, some of whom died on the journey.
Some years before he died his daughter asked me if I could coax his wartime stories from him. He'd never talked of it even to his family and as she said, when he died it would die with him. He finally agreed and I spent many a happy hour filling notepad after notepad with his stories. He even got out his box of medals, one of which had only recently been awarded by the Russians, each with its own accompanying letter but all tucked away to rarely see the light of day.

"I was nothing brave," he made very clear. "I never had a gun or anything - I was only a cook."

Likely Granddad would have said something similar - he was only a driver. But compared to those boys we're all a little plain and ordinary nowadays... we owe them a huge debt.

Re: Richie's Little Tank

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:46 am
by Richie
Totally agree ! When my grandad landed on uncle- green beach at Salerno he was facing as I recall (without reading my notes) a division of the panzer grenadiers. They were firing flak from 88's at our boys on the beach ! Now the carrier is an open topped vehicle, needless to say it made a mess ! Brave brave men !!

Re: Richie's Little Tank

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:59 am
by Richie
Checkie, the engines were ford V8 flathead with a four speed crash box. The differential and drive axle was a standard ford truck axle, the final drive ratio was slightly lower than the truck variant, but other than that it was all the same.

The British variant carriers used the 60hp engines and the Canadians used the 85 and 100hp 24 stud engines. Mine is a 1939 "99T" lump generating 100hp !! Thus was the "big boy" of its day. As standard it is a 239 CI motor (think that equates to just under 4ltr) but don't quote me.

Mine is using 30 thou oversized rings. Many carrier engines were looted after the war for folk wanting to put them into their hot rods..... People like this chap. http://youtu.be/Qfqe7AkDdTU

Re: Richie's Little Tank

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:58 pm
by rob565uk
Thanks Richie. The engine in the video sounds really sweet - hope yours is as good!

Re: Richie's Little Tank

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:05 pm
by Mike Bull
To introduce the thing at a very basic level, here's the Wiki entry-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Carrier

Re: Richie's Little Tank

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:30 pm
by Richie
There is a lot of duff information on wiki about them, but it gives a very generalised run down of the carrier.

My carrier is a Canadian built universal carrier no.3 Mk1 built November 1942, war department number CT 54508. If it had been British it would have been T54508 (the C stands for "Canadian")

When the carrier production kicked into high gear which was at the end of 41 into 42, vickers farmed out the work to other firms such as Wollesley, sentinel wagon, ford, etc etc. the carriers were all built to British spec (except the crude Aussie LP carriers)

The carriers role is so diverse, from assault vehicle, to mortar platform, to flame thrower, to ambulance ! And weighing in under 4.5 tonnes the vehicle was air portable too.

Here is a nicely restored version of mine
http://youtu.be/owpPZCc77wY
And some Newzealanders playing with a universal carrier, followed by a Loyd carrier in the bush
http://youtu.be/9mgU9apMuFQ
The paint scheme on the universal carrier is as per the orders for Italy. It's described as a light mud base with a blue/black disruptive pattern. I will paint mine this colour after the Sicily campaign which was desert sand with a brown / black disruptive. Just to follow on from where my grandad had served :roll:


The carrier was initially designed to rush a bren (basically a machine gun) firing team into battle, at which they would jump out and fight the enemy... When done the carrier would return for them and pick them up...... Yes you heard that right ! They jump out of the armoured vehicle to get shot up !!!
Here is an early news reel showing some carriers in action
http://youtu.be/GuWsy2adMfQ

Re: Richie's Little Tank

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:25 pm
by rob565uk
The film shows how relatively fast and nimble they are - and the flamethrower role is very impressive. Might be handy down town on a Saturday night!

Re: Richie's Little Tank

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:03 pm
by quicksilver-wsr
I'm not particularly a military-vehicle fan, but I certainly would enjoy seeing photos and having periodic updates on Richie's project. With Richie being a BBP team-member, there's a direct relevance to having this on here, and - furthermore - the labours of love that these lengthy restorations undoubtedly are serve to inform and inspire in equal measure.

More power to your elbow, Richie! :D

The story of how this project came about is a vivid illustration of the fact that motivation for these things comes from deep down. So often, it is done in tribute to someone else.

Nigel

Re: Richie's Little Tank

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm
by sbt
Richie wrote:The carrier was initially designed to rush a bren (basically a machine gun) firing team into battle, at which they would jump out and fight the enemy... When done the carrier would return for them and pick them up...... Yes you heard that right ! They jump out of the armoured vehicle to get shot up !!!
This is still the way the infantry uses Armoured Personnel Carriers and Infantry Fighting Vehicles to this day - at least according to my Infanteer colleagues.

Stay in the vehicle and all you are is a neatly packaged bunch of casualties. You jump out to take up better positions - APCs cant hide in folds in the ground, or climb to the upper stories of houses and Infantry are supposed to be, well, Infantry, not inferior tank crew.

Most people see a tracked vehicle and see a Big Tank, Small Tank, Medium Sized Tank. Someone 'in the trade' sees an Armoured Carrier, a Tracked Reconnaissance Vehicle, a Self Propelled Gun and sometimes, just sometimes, a Tank.

If the Universal carrier had been designed to be primarily a platform for fighting from, rather than a protected means of mobility, a nice big Vickers would have been mounted on it - just as fitted to some pre-war Tanks. Notice that when a Soft Skinned vehicle was used as a platform to fight from in the desert the guns fitted were somewhat more powerful than the Bren.

The thing that made the Carrier so good, and so revolutionary, was that it WASN'T a 'Small and badly designed Tank' - it was a small and highly manoeuvrable means of moving heavier equipment around that wouldn't get torn to shreds if fired on by the sort of weapons typically carried by Infantry, which meant you could operate it, and what it carried, further forward.

You could do Recce in it but in that role the armour was there to protect you against the odd Infantry position - it was speed and stealth that kept you safe.

Try and stand and fight with it and generally the enemy would bring up something designed to deal with proper Tanks, anything from a Panzerfaust to a Tiger - against any of which you wouldn't stand a hope in hell.

Re: Richie's Little Tank

Posted: Tue Dec 10, 2013 5:49 am
by Richie
beleive it or not, they changed the fighting orders during the war whereby the gunner did not dismount from the carrier. the early carden loyd carriers were fitted with the vickers machine gun, and many of the Australian carriers continued to use them over the bren.

The front armour on the mk1 carriers was 10mm thick, and was pretty much like tracing paper to anything large calibre. I have a section of front armour which I would love to shoot and see how good it actually was.

I have seen photo's of carriers struck by 88's and it pretty much slices the carrier in two along its length.

As mentioned the carriers best weapon was its speed and agility making it a hard target to snuff out when on the move.

Carriers are far from comfortable, being sat low you get the fumes and heat from the engine which is directly behind you with only a 5mm thick steel bulkhead to seperate, then with the vehicle being open topped you are at the mercy of the elements...I would hate to think what my grandad went through during his time in the desert with the extreme heat followed by the harsh winter of 1943 during the Italy campaign.