Universal Carrier No. 14 - out of the darkness .....

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Chris Hall
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Universal Carrier No. 14 - out of the darkness .....

Post by Chris Hall »

There is a belief that around 90% of the models sold by Armortek are never heard from again :?. Their owners never put up a build thread, and they're never seen at shows. Sometimes they appear in the 'For Sale' section, or turn up on auction sites. Well, this is the story of one of them.

I quite fancied the Universal Carrier (UC) when it first came out, but available finance got in the way so I sadly had to bail out. Reading some of the build threads there seemed to be a lot of clever re-designing going on, so I was a bit relieved to be honest. Didn't stop me liking it though, or doing some research into it (see my early post about a related VC winner viewtopic.php?t=8004).

Over the last year or so I've been in close touch with the Dutch and German contingent - great guys, and superb modellers. Well, one of their friends died recently, and his family wanted his models to go to people that would appreciate and enjoy them. I was fortunate enough to be offered his UC - built, painted and in running order. Too good a chance to turn down. I did a bit of 'due diligence' into the builder (who I won't name). He registered with the Forum, but only put up a couple of posts over 10 years ago. So it's fair to say that all his models were in the 90% I referred to at the start.

When the model was finally delivered to me (thanks to Steve Stuart for bringing it back from Militracks) it came with all the paperwork (manuals and certificate), a sheaf of invoices, and even a couple of books. Then came to checking it over. Detail-wise it was in very good order - well assembled and painted, with loads of extra bits from Armorpax and various 1/6 figures. Only one crewman (the driver), who was a bit weird - UK Paratrooper smock, German camo trousers, and a zombie head ! But a re-dress and a head swap made him look far more acceptable. And 3 more dollies :wink: completed the crew.

Then time to give it a run - firstly raised up on blocks on the work table, and then outside. It's built to what I should call 'Armortek Standard', ie. as per the instruction manual. Single motor, with 3 servos. One servo on each track to act as a brake, and one to do the 'funny track flexi thing' (TM :lol:). Everything works exactly as it should. But, before I discovered that, I had to get my head around LiPO batteries, of which I'd heard Scary Things :shock:. But the Knowledge Base article on batteries (thanks to Stephen White) was vastly reassuring - like most things in life, it's perfectly safe as long as you follow the rules. I bought the batteries and an appropriate Charger from The Component Shop (other suppliers may be available :wink:).

Then outside for a run. We've got a large garden, mostly lawn and a gravel driveway. I quickly discovered that, on grass, the UC is very fast - in a straight line. Turning was next to impossible, whether braking one track or flexing. Gravel is, of course, a no-no for all of us. So it's definitely a model that's at its best on hard ground - which is pretty well correct historically (the flexi-track system was really designed to cope with the camber on English roads).

I took the UC to TankFest, largely as a display piece (it generated a lot of interest in the Armortek Customer tent !). But it found its forte at the Museum of Army Flying show (Middle Wallop), where we perform on the tarmac. Fast and highly manoeuverable - flexing the track produces a wide, slow turn, but braking a track produces a fast spin in its own length. Certainly a crowd-pleaser, and a lot of fun to drive.

The only downside I've discovered so far it that those 7.4v LiPO's don't last very long until they get close to the danger limit, so you'll need lots of spares for a day's running. I've got two, but will get another three when they're back in stock.

Next steps ? Well, there's not much to do to the model itself - it was a very good build. Just a bit of added detail, like the camo net on the rear box. The crew are appropriately dressed, but I need some shoulder badges (thanks to Mark Weddell for the links). And then some markings for the UC itself. I'm going to fulfil my original plan of producing a homage to Sergeant Maurice Rogers VC, Platoon Sergeant, Carrier Platoon, 2nd Wiltshires, which is all very local to me. That'll involve a trip to the Regimental Museum in Salisbury (only about 20 miles away) to do some data mining, particularly on the UC's markings (if known). It'll be nice to show something from the Italian Campaign, which is not currently represented at shows. And it'll make a good companion for Deserter, my captured Panther :).

So, to conclude, this isn't a build thread ! It's bringing a well-built model from the 90% of darkness into the 10% of light as it, and its builder, deserve. And I'm very, very pleased to be able to do that.

Oh - I suppose you want some photos :wink::

As it was .....
As it was .....
And at TankFest 2023 .......
And at TankFest 2023 .......
Publicity shot !
Publicity shot !

And, very finally, thanks to Kees van Rijswijk for letting me know of the UC's availability, and handling the sales process.

Best wishes,

Chris
Mark IV (Liesel, Abteilung 14, France 1918)
M3 Lee (25 Dragoons, Burma 1944)
Universal Carrier (2/Wiltshires, Italy 1944)
Panther (Deserter, 145 RAC, Italy 1944)
Centurion Mk 3 (8KRIH, Korea 1950/51)
Morris Quad, 25-pdr & limber (45RA, Korea 1951)

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