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In-Box Review
135
British 1914 Armoured Car
British Armoured Car (Pattern 1914)
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]

introduction

World War I was the operational birth of numerous innovative weapons, including the ocean-going submarine, the airplane, the tank - and the armored car. It seems man’s obsession with killing his fellows means there is nothing he won’t harness to his bloody aim, including vehicles that were invented for pleasure like the car. Strapping a rapid-fire machine gun onto a vehicle powered by the relatively new internal combustion engine seemed to be a devilish innovation straight from Hell. It allowed armies to project firepower over large stretches of space with rapidity, and signaled the end of the "romance" of man and horse. After Parisian taxis helped stem the German attack during the “Miracle on the Marne,” it’s no wonder that automobiles quickly made the logical leap from transport to combatant.

The first armored car apparently was created in 1914 when the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) decided to mount a Maxim machine gun on a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost chassis. Early successes in encounters with German staff cars before both sides settled down to dig trenches encouraged the British to modify a series of Silver Ghosts with 6mm riveted plate armor, a movable turret for a machine gun, and space aft for ammunition. Little thought was given to protecting either the motor or the risk of fragile spoke wheels driving over rough terrain.

Not surprisingly, trench warfare proved inimical to the use of rapid-deployment firepower. So the cars were shipped off to the Middle East where Britain was waging a slog against the Ottoman Turks in the deserts of Palestine (today's Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria), present-day Iraq and what became Saudi Arabia. Eight squadrons of 12 cars served the regular forces under Allenby, with a ninth squadron sent from France to assist T.E. Lawrence and his Bedouin irregulars, whom history (and Hollywood) have come to know as "Lawrence of Arabia."

The car’s history wasn’t all romance and derring-do: the British used them in 1916 to suppress the Easter Rising in Ireland. Ironically, the Irish government later purchased 13 vehicles for use by its police forces. The cars continued in service right through World War II an upgraded version known as the Mk. I but without the distinctive spoke wheels.

What you get

The kit comes in the usual thin pasteboard Roden box sporting a nice painting of the “Superb” variant in a Middle Eastern setting. Inside are:

11 sprues of green plastic parts
1 fret of PE for the wheel spokes
1 small sheet of decals
1 sheet of clear lenses for the headlights
12-page instruction book & painting guide

review

Roden has already released the 1920 Pattern Mark 1 and the Mark 1 with sand tires. These cars served in a variety of locations after the Armistice of 1918, and mostly prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. But the latest release covers the version used primarily in the Middle East during the First World War, including T.E. Lawrence, and made famous in the 1962 movie “Lawrence of Arabia.”

The kit looks like it will be a fairly straightforward build. An engine is included, with moderate detailing, and presumably one could show the hood up, though the bonnet cover is a single piece that would require cutting and re-hinging. The molding is a bit soft in spots (e.g., the Maxim gun). Overall there isn’t a lot of flash, though the fenders are a bit fuzzy. The parts seem too thick in spots (especially the fenders), though rivets and other raised surfaces look to be correct for the most part. The rivet height strikes me as too tall, but if you're uncomfortable, a little sanding will cut them back. Seams on the leaf spring suspension aren't terrible and shouldn't require too much work.

The PE spokes for the wheels will require care and diligence on the part of builders, and should probably not be attempted by those intimidated by “fiddly bits.” No current styrene technology that can equal this fine detailing, which is after all one of the principal features of the vehicle, so there isn't a plastic alternative. The tires are single pieces without a great deal of tread detail and showing no trace of makers marks. Looking at the limited period photos of this car, the tires could just as well have been bald in the field. At least one photo of Lawrence entering Damascus in a regular Rolls shows round, balloon tires.

There are some nice features like the inclusion of three of what look to be British Lee-Enfield rifles, though they have quite a lot of flash, and will require work. There are no mounts for the rifles, which the instructions recommend should be in the "free" position.

painting & decals

The kit offers three variants:

G-256—unknown unit, Northern Africa ca. 1917 (four-color “lozenge” camouflage)
“White 1”/”Superb”—Middle East 1918 (faded olive green)
8-C-2—unknown RNAS unit, Western Front 1916 (blue gray)

The four-color “lozenge” style camo for the first variant looks to be a challenging paint scheme, while the others are pretty straightforward. I’m a bit surprised an overtly “Lawrence of Arabia” scheme wasn’t included, but presume Roden didn’t want to get into any kind of hassle with the movie’s producers. The inclusion of an RNAS variant seems a bit strange, since these cars grabbed all their notoriety in the Middle East, not on the Western Front.

conclusion

To say that I’ve waited a lifetime for this kit would be an understatement. No movie captured my imagination more growing up than “Lawrence of Arabia,” where two similar armored cars took part in an attack on a train. I immediately read Lawrence’s Revolt in the Desert (a shortened version of his classic Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and proceeded to construct a Corgi or Matchbox version of the cars for my own soldiers. So for me, the release of this kit made it an instant “must have.”

Overall, it looks like a very enjoyable OOB build, but one which could be improved by a little extra PE, especially one of the new brass machine guns that RB Model has been releasing.

I want to thank Armorama staffers Darren Baker and Al McNeilly for allowing me to post some of the photos from their walkaround of the Rolls Royce 1920 Pattern Mark I armored car at the Bovington Tank Museum. It is the only surviving specimen of this vehicle (see photos below).

UPDATE:
After beginning the build for the kit (you didn't think I'd put THIS one into the stash did you?), I have lowered my original rating by 5% because of the following issues:

1.) Seam lines & soft casting
2.) Poor fit in some assemblies, especially the spoke wheels
3.) Vagueness in some of the instructions

It's still a lovely kit, but I wanted you to know the full details.
SUMMARY
Highs: That it exists in styrene at all! Nifty PE spoke wheels. Looks like a fun build.
Lows: Soft details in some areas, lack of detailing in others. PE spoke wheels not for those who dislike "fiddly bits." Seam lines.
Verdict: If you are a fan of "Lawrence of Arabia" and armored cars, this is definitely for you.
Percentage Rating
85%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 803
  Suggested Retail: $45
  PUBLISHED: May 06, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.08%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.97%

Photos
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About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright ©2019 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

I'm debating whether to wait for any PE sets or just wade in.... Need an "Orance" figure in 1/35th to go with it.[/quote] Andrea do one in 54mm/1/32nd scale- might work if you put him away from the vehicle Lawrence of Arabia
MAY 06, 2011 - 09:51 AM
I'm debating whether to wait for any PE sets or just wade in.... Need an "Orance" figure in 1/35th to go with it.[/quote] Hmm, well you could build one without the PE and when the PE comes out it will give you an excuse to buy a second one. I'm just sayin'
MAY 06, 2011 - 05:06 PM
Thanks, Stephen, I had completely forgotten you'd reviewed this, a senior moment? Here is a link to yours for readers to compare. Damn you, Pat, LOL! That one looks like it's worth adding. Might as well pick up one of the naked women that Andrea make.... Jeremy, as Stewie would say, damn you as well, LOL!
MAY 07, 2011 - 09:28 AM
Hi Bill, You could build that one just to get in the mood and then go up market with the Resicast kit http://www.armorama.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=Reviews&file=index&req=showcontent&id=3624 Thanks for the review. Al
MAY 11, 2011 - 03:22 AM
Al, you can be shot!! Seriously, it looks like a beautiful kit, but at that price IT BLOODY WELL BETTER BE! Did you ever build yours?
MAY 11, 2011 - 08:53 AM
Hi Bill, . In the pipe for the WW1 Campaign. Cheers Al
MAY 12, 2011 - 03:06 AM
Jeremy, as Stewie would say, damn you as well, LOL! [/quote]
MAY 12, 2011 - 05:42 AM
Bugger bugger bugger!! I wish I hadn't read this review! I had successfully resisted the temptation of the earlier Roden RR Armoured cars, but I just read the phrase 'challenging colour scheme' and now I must get it just to do that scheme! Grrrr..
JUN 02, 2011 - 09:03 AM
Warren, I'm building it even as we speak, and hope to have some images of the finished vehicle at some point. The plastic is soft and there were some seam issues with the parts (it's Roden, not Dragon), but I think it will build up very nicely.
JUN 02, 2011 - 10:12 AM
   

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