by: Pat McGrath [ ]
The Rolls Royce Armoured Car was designed on the RR Silver Ghost chassis in 1914, although by the time the first vehicles were delivered in December the opposing armies in Europe had become bogged down in trench warfare in which there was no place for a fast moving armoured car. This kit depicts the 1920 pattern which saw extensive action in the Irish Civil War and continued in service with the Irish Army until 1944.
The vehicle also saw some service in the interwar years in the Middle East in “Police Actions”.
A number of 1920 and 1924 pattern cars were still in use by the British Army at the beginning of the Second World War and saw service in the Middle East and on the Home Front in Britain until replaced by more up to date Armoured Cars.
The kit comes in a quite a small box (200x 300x 45mm) containing:
•8 sprues of a mid green plastic.
•2 black vinyl/rubber sprues containing 4 tyres each.
•1 sheet of decals with options for two vehicles.
•A small sheet of plastic film with the lenses for the car’s lights outlined by black circles.
•A 12 page Instruction booklet
The unstapled instruction leaflet has an essay about the development and service history of the vehicle. This is well written though it is not confined to the 1920 version which is the subject of the kit.
The second page gives the vehicle’s technical info, the usual useful advice about how to remove pieces from sprues and the key to the symbols used in the assembly instructions. Also included here is a key to the painting instructions with references for the Model Master paint range.
Next on pages three and four we are shown the sprue layout. The assembly instructions take up 7 of the remaining pages with the last page showing the decal placement and painting guide.
The assembly instructions are shown in the form of exploded line drawings and outlined in 36 sub assembly steps. Sounds daunting but a lot of the steps are simple such as gluing the steering wheel to the steering column. There are only two lines of text in the assembly instructions, one indicating the color of the chassis frame and the other indicating where the included 303 rifles should be placed.
I’ll go through the parts in order of assembly, although I won’t go into each part in detail. What I will concentrate on is omissions and potential problems in assembly. I don't have a set of plans for this vehicle so I can't comment on the correctness of the height, length, width etc., at this time. I will be starting a build log of this kit and hope to have the opportunity to measure Sliabh na mBan, which is the surviving 1920 Pattern Rolls Royce Armoured Car in the Curragh Military Camp.
There are some heavy knockout marks on a few pieces but these, as far as I can tell at this stage, will not be visible when the kit is assembled.
The engine parts are on sprue E. There are no knockout marks on any parts that will remain visible when the engine is assembled, and two barely noticeable sink marks on my review sample. The attachment points on the fan blades are awkwardly placed and the part will have to be carefully removed from the sprue. The same goes for the pipes and tubes of the engine which also have a small amount of flash on them. Of necessity, this being a plastic kit, the engine is simplified and adventurous modelers can refine parts and add much of the fine tubing and leads present in the real engine with fine wire. There is no option to show the bonnet/hood open without some major surgery.
Axles and Wheels:
The Axles are well cast with only the usual seam lines common to any plastic kit. There is a small amount of flash on the wheels but nothing major. The tyres come 4 on a sprue and annoyingly are attached in three places to the sprue. The vinyl is very soft and cleanup may be difficult. My prediction is that replacement tyres is one of the first aftermarket sets we’ll see for this kit. The thread pattern is close enough to the period photos I checked.
The Chassis Frame:
Most kits have this as a one piece item, but here we need to join the two sides together so attention will have to be paid to proper alignment of parts. This subassembly contains the exhaust pipe, the end of which is flattened slightly as it should be, but in my kit there was evidence of mold shift. I plan on replacing the end piece with a piece of brass pipe which should give the hollow appearance and be easy enough to flatten. That’s if the part is visible on the completed model- if it’s not then I won’t bother.
A rudimentary interior is provided for the hull with steering wheel and column, seats, brake, clutch and accelerator pedals and brake and gear levers. From examination of the parts I can’t see any problem with the wheel and axle assembly and fitting it to the frame. The interior of these vehicles was quite sparse anyway.
The Exterior Body Work:
The assembly of the bodywork shows it to be made up of nine parts including the rear doors. The exterior of these parts show some texture. In some areas this is quite subtle and will look good with the right paint job, but some of it is a little bit overdone.
The parts for the superstructure at the back of the vehicle are all cleanly cast and should go together well. The rear doors and the armoured cover for the radiator are a bit thick and could be sanded down, but then the rivets and other details will need to be replaced.
Lenses for the headlights, side lights and searchlight are provided in the form of a sheet of acetate with the correct size circles outlined in black. Clear plastic parts would have been better here. The headlights and searchlight are quite big-approx: 7mm and I’m not sure if aftermarket lenses are available in that size- does anybody know?
The turret, including the interior parts and machinegun, is made up of 15 parts. I was disappointed in the machinegun as I feel the detail is quite soft. The shield for the MG has two knockout marks on its rear face and these will be visible after assembly so they will need to be sanded flat. Like the rest of the body work, the turret plates show some texture, heavy on some panels, completely smooth on others. Judging from the extant examples in private collections and museums not much texture is evident but it has to be said these surviving vehicles carry eighty years of paint.
Four .303 Enfield rifles are provided and one of only two lines of text in the assembly guide says these should be freely placed in the interior. I feel this is wrong and they should be placed in the nearest bin. They are terrible and bear only a remote resemblance to the real weapon.
For this review, and this review only, I became an actual rivet counter. Looking at period and museum photos, I examined the number and placement of the rivets on the armoured car.
In general the kit is correct but on the front plate of the turret there are a couple of mistakes. On the bottom of the plate there should only be five, not seven, rivets and between and just above the two rivets on the lower left hand side of the turret should be two extra rivets close together. On the top of the plate, although the number of rivets is correct, they are evenly spaced apart when they shouldn’t be. Conversely the rivets around the opening for the MG are not evenly spaced and they should be. The accompanying photo of Bovington’s RR shows the proper placement. This should be easy enough to rectify with a sharp blade and some careful gluing.
Any further problems with assembly or parts should become clear when I start the assembly blog.
The Decals and Painting Guide:
The decals provided are for two vehicles:
•SV 4996 Royal Tank Corps, Derbyshire 1939
•Ajax No 1 Squadron Egypt/Iraq 1940-43
The color given for SV 4996 is Model Master Royal Hussars Green and that for Ajax is Africa Mustard. Check your references for other manufacturers’ colors.
The Ajax decals include parts for a large air recognition roundel for the top of the turret. This will need careful placement over the rivets on the turret roof.
Roden are to be applauded for producing the RR Armoured Car as their first 1/35 vehicle kit. The detail is a bit soft in places but this looks like a very buildable kit that with some TLC will produce a great model. It would be good to have included marking options for an Irish vehicle or one of the cars used during the thirties in the Middle East.