Vehicles Little Soldiers

Universal Carrier

Introduction

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[1], and one in paper[2]. 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[3] 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.

UC Design
View
Designing in Wings3d

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.

UC Alpha Build
Alpha build with 20lb bond paper

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.

UC Alpha Build
A second test build with 110lb cardstock
Universal Carrier
Redesigned front compartment with
enough depth for a figure

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.

Universal Carrier
Single-piece suspension

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.

Universal Carrier
New color and interior

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.

Universal Carrier
Hitch detail

References

[1] Tim's Universal Carriers in plastic

[2] Paper Universal Carrier

[3] Universal Carrier Mk.II + Flak38

[4] Universal Mk I

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