This Bren carrier belongs to a British unit serving in North Africa. The Airfix driver wears a hat, the Matchbox observer wears a side cap, and the gunner is in the regulation steel helmet. Immediately behind the driver is a Bren light machine gun for air defence. The weapon is mounted on a 25 mm length of 0.6 mm pianowire superglued into the angle between the firewall and the engine cover. The gunner also has a Bren LMG which he can fire through a port in the frontal armour plating. The observer sits on a large wooden box taken from HO scale railroad supplies. There are two smaller boxes in the left-hand crew compartment, as well as a rolled-up camouflage net made from a piece of gauze bandage. The stowage bin at the rear holds another camouflage net, and there are two jerrycans in a make-shift rack immediately next to it. The carrier is equipped with a radio, the attenna mounting point can be seen at the right rear of the crew compartment. The small parts add a lot of interest to the vehicle, they capture the viewers attention, and they may tell an interesting story of a dangerous journey through the desert. Most of these items were taken from commercially available model kits, like Reviresco’s Lancia Aprilia staff car which contributed the spare jerrycans. Notice the perfect scale thickness of the cardboard compartment walls, one advantage of paper over plastic.
A Bren Carrier of 4th Indian Brigade during the North African campaign. The card model is equipped with a driver and gunner from Atlantic’s Indian Brigade series of 1:72 scale figures. Just visible in the cargo bay are two wooden boxes scrounged from HO scale model railroad supplies. The vehicle should be detailed further, adding some camouflage netting, a radio antenna, jerrycans, and a machine gun for air defence. Detail parts like that are available from ROCO and Hasegawa, and they may be taken from the spare parts sometimes found in plastic model kits. The carrier model is also available in a dark green card which resembles the British 1940 vehicle camouflage. Very little painting is required, only the tracks need to be touched up with rust, dirt or metal colours. A multi-colour pattern could be applied by painting disruptive stripes on the carrier.
M3 White Scout Car serving with the French Foreign Legion in 1944-45. The vehicle carries camouflage netting made from painted gauze bandage, and a radio antenna has been added. The netting hides the fact that the driver compartment is empty. It would have been easy to add seats, a stearing wheel, and other interior detail, but it was not needed in this particular case.
The detailed jerrycans are spare parts taken from another M3 Scout Car, and the wheels are from a ROCO truck. Small items like these are difficult to scratchbuild in cardboard. Spare parts cast in pewter or plastic are more pleasing to the eye, and they add a lot of value to a card model. The officer in the rear of the scout car is a French infantryman made by ESCI. In wargames, the figure may dismount to scout on foot.
Nice and Cheap
Cardboard models are an interesting alternative to plastic, resin or pewter models, and they cover a variety of vehicle types not otherwise available in this scale. Cardboard models take very little time to build and paint. Many surface details are printed on, they need not be cut off a sprue, cleaned, and glued on. Complex camouflage patterns and tactical markings can be printed on as well, only the cut edges need to be retouched later. For more information about 1:72 scale card models, please contact Cliff Button of PaperTigerArmaments.
- Cardboard models of open-topped armoured vehicles show the correct scale thickness of armour plating. Plastic injection moulded and pewter parts are generally much too thick, and resin parts will be very fragile if cast in scale thickness.
- Cardboard models may be pre-printed in historically accurate camouflage patterns and markings, and they would be an ideal painting guide for other vehicle models which do not include detailed instructions.
- Cardboard may be glued with non-toxic PVA glues which wash out of clothing easily, and which do not dissolve plastic table surfaces.
- Cardboard models in 1:72 scale are compatible with vehicles and infantry made by Revell, Italeri, ESCI, Airfix, and Hasegawa. Many of these kist contain spare parts which may be used to detail a cardboard vehicle. ROCO, Preiser, and Hasegawa offer accessory sets with machine guns, jerrycans, spare tires, ammunition boxes, blanket rolls, radios and other small parts.
- Cardboard models are cheap compared to plastic injection moulded kits, an important consideration for wargamers who need to raise entire companies and battalions of vehicles.
- Machine Guns and other small parts made from card do not look very convincing, they are difficult to cut out, and they bend out of shape easily. Painting small paper parts with superglue is one technique which needs to be explored further, but it is generally much easier to use commercially available parts made from plastic or pewter.
- Automobile tires are difficult to make from paper, they will look better in plastic or pewter.
- Surface detail is printed on, but it is flat. One option would be to cut out small parts, mount them on thin card and glue them back on the vehicle. Handrails, steps, tow hooks, and antennas may be made from 0.3 and 0.6 mm pianowire. Superglue should be used to attach them securely.
- Gun barrels made from paper are not strong enough to be handled in wargames, they should be replaced by aluminium or brass tubing available at hobby shops.
Rare and Unavailable Types
Many historic vehicles are not available in 1:72 scale, some popular types have been out of production for a long time. Unusual cardboard vehicles of particular interest to the wargamer have been marked with an * below.
- Bren Carrier* (Airfix makes a 1:76 version which looks too small)
- Vickers Light Tank*
- M3 White Scout Car (ESCI 1:72, not available at this time)
- M3 Half-Track
- M5 Stuart light tank
- Char Leger T 13* (Belgium)
- Char B1* (France)
- Semovente M40* assault gun (Italy)
- Carro Commando* command vehicle (Italy)
- Krupp Radio Truck*
- Henschel 33 D1* cargo Truck
- Sd.Kfz. 251/1 NEU* Schützenpanzerwagen
- T 70* light tank
- KV-1* heavy tank
- KV-2* heavy tank
- SU-100 assault gun
- Tiger I
- Sturmgeschütz III
- Jagdpanzer IV
- A.27 Cromwell cruiser tank
- F.V. 4034 Challenger cruiser tank*
- Sherman tank
- Churchill infantry tank
- Churchill bridgelayer
- DUKW amphibious truck
- M10 Tank Destroyer*
- Panzerjäger Hetzer* (ESCI 1:72, not available at this time)
- Land Rover Lightweight* (airborne)
- M113 APC (US/Bundeswehr/Nato)
- M114 Recon* APC
- Hotchkiss* APC (Bundeswehr)
Cardboard vehicles are cheap and robust, perfect for wargames. Conversions and repairs require only a little PVA glue and a sheet of thin cardboard. Vehicles may be painted with superglue to stiffen them, after which the surface can be drilled, sanded and engraved with regular modelling tools. Many important vehicles are not available in plastic or metal, and cardboard is an interesting alternative.