Released in June 2009, this is the latest of the Resicast Universal Carrier Conversion sets. The set is designed to convert the Tamiya Universal carrier (either kit no 35175-1300 or 35175-1600) into the 3-inch No 1, Mk 1 Mortar Carrier.
Probably one of the most versatile vehicles built during WWII, the Universal Carrier saw service in a wide variety of roles and was used in general service and specialised roles throughout the British and Commonwealth Forces.
The No 1, Mk 1 Mortar Carrier was based on the Universal Carrier Mk 1, but modified to carry the mortar and crew. It was powered by a Ford V8 79E-6004 CS or DS engine. Mortar carriers were being developed as early as 1935 when the Machine Gun Carrier was being trialed. Early carriers were not big enough to transport the mortar, ammunition and crew, but when the Universal Carrier was introduced different stowage arrangements allowed for all three elements to be included in the vehicle.
There were three main manufacturers of the 3 inch Mortar Carrier: Sentinel Wagons, Wolseley and Ford. In 1941 both Loyds and Universal Carriers were tested for use as mortar carriers. The difficulty of fitting out the Loyd Carriers meant that the Universal Carrier was chosen as the basic vehicle for use.
Packed in a sturdy box the kit comes in a series of zip plastic bags wrapped for extra protection in bubble wrap. On the front of the box is a picture of the built kit, with 3 smaller pictures below. Inside wrapped in layers of bubble wrap are a series of 7 zip plastic bags containing the conversion parts, an instruction booklet and 2 frets of PE, plus some plastic rod.
Then instruction booklet contains 24 pages to guide you through the conversion. On the first page is a good picture of the built carrier and below it marked as ‘Absolute Reading’ are picture references for Nigel Watson’s excellent books Universal Carriers Volume 1 and Volume 2
. I can’t recommend these two volumes highly enough.
Page 2 gives a listing of the resin parts, page 3 lists the larger fret of photo-etched parts and page 4 outlines the 2nd smaller fret of PE. Pages 5 through 20 are the build instructions with pages 21 through 23 containing good clear sketches of the internal stowage arrangement and mortar placement. Page 24 contains the contact details for Resicast if you have any broken or missing parts.
The black and white pictures in the build instructions are of good quality with the parts being clearly identified by part number. The build should be fairly easy to follow, but be sure and read through the instructions a few times and make sure you have identified all the parts.
One thing I do like very much about the new Resicast instructions are that, as well as the parts being numbered, the listings tell you what they actually are, for example; FI = Seat Handle, SQ = Rifle Stay, etc. This actually helps understand the build in a much better way, rather than glue part 10 to part 15 which is fine, but then you don’t really know what part 10 and 15 are!
Now the interesting part. Cast in a light grey resin the conversion parts come in 7 zip plastic bags, with a large and smaller fret of PE, the replacement engine block cast as a whole and several lengths of plastic rod you will need for the build. The level of detail, engineering quality and user friendliness of the parts is of the usual Resicast highest quality, and I could see no damage or air bubbles in any of the castings. In short everything you need to convert the old Tamiya kit into an excellent representation of the No 1, Mk 1 Mortar Carrier are there, plus a few more for the spares box.
With so many small parts it would not be realistic to comment on them all but I will give you a basic outline and feel for the set
The engine block and fittings replace the Tamiya parts and give the correct representation for the Mk 1 carrier. Front and rear bulkheads are provided again to replace the kits parts, as are the front plate, rear top and rear vertical plate and front armour. All these major parts are excellently cast with fine sharp detail. Minimal clean up will be required to remove the pour stubs. Together with the correct fuel tanks front and rear, flooring, and fittings these provide the basis for the Mk 1 Carrier and have all been previously reviewed on Armorama:
•Universal carrier Mk I
•Medium Machine Gun Carrier
Obviously carrying ammunition was a key element of the carrier, and the set provides the correct stowage in two bulk stowage items for the left and right rear sides of the carrier. 30rds of mortar bombs were carried in the rear left compartment, stacked in 7 rows of 3 bombs (21), 3 rows of 2 bombs (6) and a further 3 bombs. These were held in place by a locking bar. On the right hand side a further 24 bombs were stored in 9 rows of 2 bombs and a further row of 6 bombs, again held in by a locking bar. The bombs were carried in tubes and the parts give a good representation of the bulk stowed items. Another 6 bombs were stowed in the front left hand side bin of the carrier contained in 3 rows of 2 bombs, and these are well depicted (part EO). In the front by the driver were a further stacked 6 bombs (part ES) and again these are nicely depicted with the carrying handles present on the top.
The tracks come in 6 x 2 length spurs, with two shorter lengths. They are well cast, and for resin, fairly easy to work with. The casting process means that they arrive straight. Take care when separating them from the spur, but they clean up easily with an emery board or tooth brush and give an excellent representation of the track used on the carriers. Together with the track you get 3 x replacement drive wheels to replace the kit set that are over sized and have the wrong number of teeth.
The kit is designed to show the 3 inch mortar mounted and being transported on the carrier. The mortar tube, base and bipod along with small parts, aiming posts and tools are all provided with the set. All are of exceeding high quality, and based on the drawings and references I have give an excellent representation of the mounted tube. Should you wish to show the tube dismounted and in action then a set of independent 3 inch mortars is available in set no 35.2223. There is no review of this set to link to but I built one of the mortars some time ago and it is a very neat little set indeed.
You get additional weapons in the form of stowed and independent SMLE rifles, which is nice but you may want to change these to No 4 rifles if you are depicting the vehicle in NWE.
Amongst the range of replacements and new items you also get a new instrument panel showing the correct location of the dials etc, two sets of replacement lights allowing a Canadian version to be built (the Canadian version was known as the 3-inch Mortar Carrier No 3 Mk 1). The most noticeable difference in the Canadian version are the lights. The Canadian vehicles were powered by a Ford V8 C01UC-6007 engine but I am not aware of any difference in the engine housing so you should be fine there.
Replacement fire extinguishers, seats, drive/gear levers, shovel and pick, jack, starting handles, cranking rod, dip stick, stowage boxes, knobs, track adjuster, starting plug, break leaver gear housing, pedals, grab handles, signal flags and bull horn are all provided with the set.
2 frets of PE provide further detail to add to the kit, so this is not a build for the faint hearted.
Well, I am biased towards anything British or Commonwealth and have been a big fan of Resicast kits for a few years now, but this is another cracking kit allowing yet more life to be breathed into the Tamiya Universal Carrier.
The quality, casting and engineering are all up to the standard we have come to expect from Resicast. The instructions are simple and easy to follow. A sharp X-acto blade and razor saw will be required but the moulding has been done in such a way as to reduce the amount of sawing you will need to do. This is a full kit, not a drop in option, so a lot of individual choice on finish is possible.
Everything you need to produce a good and accurate representation of the vehicle should be here. The detail provided for the driving compartment, rear compartment and exterior of the carrier is, quite frankly, a joy. Some No 4 rifles would have been handy, but not critical. I also saw listed in the vehicle kit in Vol 2 of the Universal Carrier a .45 Thompson.
This set would go well with the 10cwt trailer and load I reviewed Here
on Armorama a few weeks ago.
There is a nice load of 3-inch mortar bomb boxes to suit and the trailer was often towed by the carriers.
Set 35.2223 will provide you with individual mortars should you need them, as it contains 2 in the firing position and 1 folded for transport, so the only thing lacking are some ground crew if you want to show the weapon in action.
Both Resicast, with the kits mentioned above and Accurate Armour, with their Loyd and 4-inch mortar set, provide excellent support weapons and vehicles. Unfortunately, neither so far have provided basic infantry crews to man the mortars, although Resicast do have an Airborne Mortar crew and weapon set. Opportunity there for someone I would think?
As a stand alone vehicle, or as part of a diorama, this set provides the modeller with yet a greater choice. Quality and attention to detail is outstanding, and this is a set that should be enjoyed by many.
Following the pattern of earlier releases, Resicast have also produced a Mortar Carrier Stowage Set, set No 35.2318. I will be reviewing this set as a follow up to this review, so again more choice of finish is being offered.
My thanks to Resicast
for providing this item for review.