The Windsor Carrier was a late-war unit produced by Ford Canada in a single batch of 5,000 in 1944-1945.
The Windsor Carrier was a variant of the original Universal Carrier. It was designed for towing trailers and light anti-tank guns, with an extra bogie wheel at the back which provided more reliability than the original Universal carrier design.
The Windsor provided a stable platform for towing trucks and the 6-pound anti-tank gun, as well as allowing much greater crew comfort.
It was powered by a 96hp V8 engine, weighed around 5 tons and was a full 172 inches in length overall. Most, if not all of the production run in Canada was shipped overseas to replace mechanical and combat losses in frontline units during the war.
The British Army's demand for tracked carriers remained high throughout the Second World War, but even by 1940 the need was felt to standardize the design as far as possible. This resulted in the introduction of the Universal Carrier.
The Mark1 Universal Carrier built in Windsor, Ontario followed closely on designs delivered from the UK early in the conflict. That design was followed closely by Mark2. Those machines were very similar, and had similar design deficiencies. Most of those shortcomings were rectified by the T-16 Carrier that followed in 1944. Although a fine machine, the T-16 was replaced by the Windsor Carrier in the last year of the war, and was generally considered the ultimate design of the Universal Carrier series produced.
The "Windsor" was developed initially as a light, tracked towing vehicle but, by the time of actual production, was designed to fulfill five separate roles including support for a mortar platoon or a six pounder anti-tank crew. Due to its length and identical front and rear bogie assemblies, the "Windsor" resembled in a general way the American built T-16. The Windsor was, however, 20" longer, 1 ton heavier and retained the track warp-break steering system of the Canadian Universal Carriers.
Some of the important differences between the Universal Carrier (also known as the "Bren Gun Carrier") and the Windsor Carrier are the use of four road wheels with the springs facing forward on the vehicle. Speed, manoeuvrability, towing ability and versatility are characteristic of this vehicle. It was designed to transport five or more men and to tow a gun across difficult terrain under small arms fire.
Also notable is the considerable space between the sets of road wheels that provided much needed stability for the tractor, considering it was designed to tow the 6 pounder anti-tank gun. Also, the squared track guard and small cans on the fenders are characteristic of the Windsor Carrier.
During the war, almost 29,000 Universal Carriers and 5,000 Windsor Carriers were built in Canada for the war effort. In total, over 110,000 Universal Carriers and its variants were built in the UK, Canada, Australia and the US making it one of the most widely produced armoured vehicles in history.