by: George Redell [ ]
The Universal Carrier was an armored tracked infantry support vehicle also known as the Bren Gun Carrier. The Airborne version of the British Universal Carrier was modified to reduce its weight so it could be transported in the Hamilcar Glider. This is Riich Models third version of the British Universal Carrier. The British Universal Carrier Mk.I and Mk.II were released in 2013 and 2014. Reviews for these kits can be found the Armorama Website:
7 light gray sprues
1 clear sprue
16 large springs
16 small springs
3 photo etch sheets
1 decal sheet
1 Instruction Booklet
Color painting guide for:
i. Mr. Hobby
ii. Model Master
i. 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Reg., 1st Airborne, Operation Market Garden, Sept. 1944
ii. 250th Airborne Light Company, 1st Airborne Division in Rhine Crossing, March 1945
iii. 1st Battalion the Border Regiment, 1st Airborne, Operation Market Garden, Sept. 1944
This kit is a re-issue of the Riich Model M.k I and M.k II kits released over the last couple of years. Like those kits there is a lot of plastic packed in the small box. I counted around 432 parts, this includes the photo etch pieces and springs. There are 30 building steps for the Universal Carrier and 7 building steps for the Welbike. You will need to memorize the icon instruction chart, every building step has at least two of these icons in it. This kit has a lot of photo etch; almost every building step has some in it. As with most photo etch instructions they are a little lacking on how to make some of the bends.
All of the plastic parts are molded in a light grey plastic. Since this is the Airborne version, which was stripped down to make it lighter, the carrier does not use all the parts supplied that the previous releases used. One thing you will see missing from this kit is the engine which is included with the previous two kits but you will have a lot of spare parts when you are finished. The parts are well molded, with a lot of crisp detail. There was no flash on any of the parts. Like I mentioned earlier there is a lot of photo etch used in this kit. The previous M.k I and M.k II kits had plastic exterior walls, this kit uses photo etch. The plastic exterior walls are included in the kit but marked as “Not Used” in the instructions. The photo etch used for the exterior walls is thicker than the average photo etch which will make this kit look realistic.
This kit has a double spring suspension which slide into a plastic rod assembly that is made of five parts. That could be a daunting task but the outcome will be very impressive when completed. The track is link and length consisting of 29 parts per side. I would like to see an individual link set released in the future for this kit. One thing that you will need to watch is removing some of the parts from the sprue. There are a lot of small parts and if care is not taken they will be lost. The decals are produced by Riich Model and look good with 3 different marking options along with the Welbike decals.
The Welbike is like everything else in this kit, highly detailed. For as small as this bike is there are a lot of parts which of course include photo etch. Around 40 plastic parts and 10 photo etch parts.
Overall this looks like a great kit, but not one for a beginner modeler. Anyone with a few builds under their belt should be able to build this kit. There are some complex building steps when building the suspension and bending the photo etch, but very manageable if you take your time. This kit contains a lot of small pieces, but this is a small vehicle. Riich Model does include a lot of extra stowage parts like weapons and vehicle parts if you would like to use them. I can think of a lot of dioramas that this vehicle can be used for. I highly recommend this kit.