I had been looking around the web for a Universal Carrier paper model, but without luck. In the meantime I was trying to learn Wings3d to begin designing small scale paper models. I knew of a few scratch-built carriers on the web, one plastic, and one in paper. But neither had released plans to be able duplicate their work. When I found a 3-view drawing of the Universal Carrier, I decided it would be good practice to design it as a paper model myself.
Download the Model
You can download the model for free at papermodelers.com.
A Build Journal
My preferred scale is 1:72, and I'm working with the assumption that a certain amount of detail is better left as printed texture. I used both pictures of the real thing and scale models as references for drawing the details on the model. It was important to me that I keep the design simple enough to fold in paper, while showing the distinct features of the vehicle.
It took me four or five tries going between Wings3d and the unfolding software, Pepakura, before I had a design that looked nice and unfolded correctly. I ended up redrawing the hull and driver's compartment a number of times, going from too complex to very simple and then adding back some complexity to the shape once I understood how Pepakura interpreted it. The suspension was simplified and the wheels were made unnaturally wide so they could be glued directly to the hull and stand up to handling.
The first two builds were made with regular copy paper. It was helpful in figuring out where the mistakes were and what could be improved. The second time I redid the suspension halfway through and so some of the road wheels are of the new style.
The next step was to improve the textures and see if the dimensions would work with the thickness of cardstock. I also printed in color to get a better feel for how the finished model would look. Although I've gone back and redesigned some parts, I'm pretty happy with the overall look.
Another improvment I made during the redesign was a solid suspension piece, sort of a quick build version and to make it easier to scale down to 1/100 for those who might be interested when the design is finished.
I also changed the overall color to match the darker green you see in museum pieces. I'm not sure how historically accurate it is, but I think it's closer to being an authentic color now.
I've been surprised how difficult it is to find a picture of the interior (at least without buying a book dedicated to these vehicles). A lot of the walk-around pictures are of the outside at eye-level, and none are from above. But I think I've improved the look of the interior compared to the previous test build.
I'm getting close to finishing this model. Two more test builds and I've convinced myself that I've reached the limit of detail that I would want to build on a 1/72 model. Printing it out on something lighter than 200 gsm paper might help, but I didn't have anything on hand to try.
The last major piece was the hitch on the back. It's fiddly to put together, but I wanted it available as part of the kit.