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Weapons of the British Infantry 1939-1945

Bren Gun Mk2

Rate of Fire:  500 rounds/minute

Effective Range: 600 yds

Maximum Range: 1850 yds

Feed System: 30 round Magazine (most common); 100 round magazine

Action: Gas operated, tilting bolt

During the 1939-1945 War, the Bren Gun was the primary weapon system of the British Infantry, as well as being fitted to a variety of vehicles.  The infantry Section of ten men was built around the Bren where it would be used as a Section weapon in the Light Machine Gun (LMG) role.  This Bren team would comprise of one gunner, one loader and usually the Section 2i/c who would command the Bren team under the overall direction of his Section i/c.  The remainder of the Section would carry two magazines each of 30 rounds (usually 28 to prevent jamming), whilst the L/Cpl and loader would usually carry four extra in addition to this to provide a steady supply of ammunition.  

Built under licence and based on a Czech design, the Bren entered service in 1938 using the British Army's standard .303 round.  It was this rimmed cartridge that gave the Bren its distinctive curved magazine, necessary to ensure the rounds fed correctly into the breach and to prevent jamming.  

This magazine design resulted in a lower rate of fire than its rival in the German Army, the MG34 or MG42, and it was deemed too accurate to be an effective support weapon.  Nevertheless, it remained in service with the British Army until the late 20th Century (in a somewhat modified form) and was widely respected and liked by the soldiers who used it.  The Bren was supplied with a spare barrel that could be changed quickly and easily by releasing the catch on the left-hand side, although the reduced rate of fire meant that this was not necessary except under sustained fire.

The Bren was also provided with a tripod mount, although this was unpopular due to its additional weight.  This could be adapted to create an Anti-Aircraft (AA) mounting, but it was most commonly used in the defence.

The example shown here is a MkII introduced in 1941 and is a modified and simplified version of the Mk1.  A MkIII was introduced in 1944 featuring a shortened barel for jungle fighting.  A MkIV variant also exists and this Mark desribes a MkII modified to create a MkIII.

Click 'Next Page' to read about the Lee Enfield Rifle.

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