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Dating a military registration.


59Prototype
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Before starting a new post I searched the forum and found this but the question isn't really answered. However it was back in 2008 so I'm wondering if the answer is now available?

Why I ask is that recently I was discussing military registration numbers with a friend and whether there was any way that you can tell when they were first issued? I have the VRNs for the Army, Navy and RAF but am aware that they are not official lists. In fact did I once read that they were compiled from photos, and although useful, are not totally accurate? Occasionally a year is mentioned in a list but mostly they give just the military number and the vehicle it was on.

So once again is it possible to date a vehicle more or less from the number as it is with civilian registrations? As an example I know that 07 RN 49 was issued to a 1959 Royal Marines Mini Moke so do I assume that ‘07’ is from c. 1959? Perhaps there is an article or a website that would more fully answer my question about the years. Does anyone know?

Graham

 

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On top of that, with the RAF (and i guess the Brown Jobs?) different letter combinations were used to denote the role/type of vehicle so AA contains cars, light tenders and ambulances (as well as a few trailers i believe).

The easiest way to date it would be to see if the Record Card survives.

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Many thanks for your comments and advice. So it sounds as though it is best to forget about any sequence or series of numbers and go straight to the information on the vehicle record card, assuming there is one. That then begs the next question who holds the record cards?  I seem to recall that the RAF vehicle records are at the RAF Museum, Hendon and the Army ones at the RCL Museum but who has the record cards for Royal Navy vehicles?

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l will make this as simple as possible as the RN numbers were reallocated when a vehicle was sold and the number reallocated the card of the one sold was destroyed and a new card was issued with the new vehicles details filled in .Over the years of collecting the 419B cards l only managed to save a few these should have gone with the army  B vehicle cards what l can say is no one from any of the museums concerned with matters  ROYAL NAVAL were interested in holding those vehicle cards

 

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12 hours ago, 59Prototype said:

Is it possible to date a vehicle more or less from the number as it is with civilian registrations? 

Graham

 

To answer your  question, as far as army vehicles in the period 1950 - 1982  are concerned, yes.  It is possible to get a good idea about the age of a particular vehicle from its equipment registration mark (ERM).  It is also possible to get an idea about the type of equipment it is.  As others have said, this doesn’t apply to RN vehicles as they re-used numbers, nor so clearly to RAF vehicles as the numbers involved were a lot smaller than was the case for the Army, though they did divide up their allocated series into different vehicle types (--AB-- were staff cars, for example, while --AL--included recovery vehicles).

But, looking at the Army system which was in use between 1950 and 1982 the pattern is fairly clear and easily followed.  Then, between 1982 and 1993 the system saw vehicle ERMs from all three services merged and, at the same time, no distinction was made for the type of vehicle - they were all registed --KA-- to --KL--.  And, since 1993 a new system has been in place which is tri-Service, as before but has pairs of letters bracketing a pair of numbers, eg AG23AA.

Looking at the Army from 1950 to 1982.  The vehicle serial number was split with a double letter, eg 01CC34.  This pair of letters, which began with BA, (all the As having been allocated to the RAF), gave a clue both to the accounting year, (or years for slow-filling numbers), when the contract was placed for the vehicle and, broadly, the type of vehicle (so individual vehicles may be a few months to a couple of years younger than the ERM implies). 

The letters were issued more or less sequentially, though there were gaps and exceptions.  Generally, letter pairs lasted longer in the early years than later – so BA, for example was used on “A” (armoured) vehicles between 1950 and 1955, BB on “A” vehicles between 1955 and 1957.  BC, on the other hand, lasted only for 1950 and 1951.  But it was allocated to “B” (soft-skinned) vehicles and, clearly, they were bought in considerably greater numbers than “A” vehicles.

But, looking into the late 1960s, for example, the sequence had reached F, with FA being applied to “A” vehicle contracts from 1967-68, FB, 1968-69 and FC 1969-70.  FC, FD, FE and FF were also allocated to “A”  for succeeding years up to 1972-73 while "B" vehicles, over the same period were FG for 1967-68, FH, 1968-69 and FK 1969-70, FL and FM were also allocated to “B” vehicles (for 1970-71 and 1972-73).  There was then an unused gap between FM and FU with FU to FZ being used for “C” (engineer plant) vehicles for the years 1967-68 up to 1972-73.  And so it went on until 1982 when KA was introduced across the whole MoD fleet, irrespective of Service or type of vehicle.

Examples?  Well, 02FF60 was a Spartan APC (an “A” vehicle) from contract year 1972-73,  10FM68 was a Series 3 FFR Land Rover (a “B” vehicle) from 1972-73, 01FX35 was an Aveling Barford dump truck (a “C” vehicle) from 1970-71. 

The actual serial numbers of the vehicles then ran from 0001 to 9999 with each letter pair, though not all would necessarily be used.

Exceptions?  Lots!  And there were lots of gaps and unfinished runs as well.  But, examples of divergences from the “A”, “B” and “C” vehicle route included:

CP which was issued to construction plant used by the Royal Engineers,

CV captured vehicles from the Falklands campaign,

BT was used for vehicles transferred from RAF or RN to the Army, as well as a number of other applications such as the M2 rigs of 28 Amphibious Engineer Regiment, civilian cars carrying civilian numberplates etc,

SP for special projects,

TC – box bodies or transportable containers

TG – towed guns.

The majority of letter pairs from the end of the alphabet were used for applying to vehicles already in service when the new system came in, thus any remaining WWII vehicles would be RA-RH and YA to ZY, with pairs again split into certain types.  Parts of the series XA-XZ were used for vehicles based in the Berlin Brigade and paid for by the German government.  PB and MW were used for vehicles based abroad (eg on Cyprus) but owned by the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, (later the Property Services Agency, PSA).

And so it went on.  There is a lot more to it than this, but this is an outline sketch of the basic system.

The whole issue is expanded in Dick Taylor's "Warpaint, Colours and Markings of British Army Vehicles 1903 - 2003 Volume 1 which is the most easily accessed source, though there may be one or two discrepancies, particularly with dates as applying to some exceptions.

Hope this helps

10 68 

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There is one main exception that comes to mind , however for exact build dates / conversion / change to Reg. plates - I would have to trawl through several reference books.

This concerned quite a large batch of  Land Rover 101"  GS that had been kept in storage with just delivery mileage.  ISTR they were either  ==FL--  or  --FM--  , they were taken from storage and sent to Marshall (Cambridge) for conversion to Ambulance  -  returned to service on   --GJ--  plates IIRC.

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1 hour ago, ruxy said:

There is one main exception that comes to mind , however for exact build dates / conversion / change to Reg. plates - I would have to trawl through several reference books.

This concerned quite a large batch of  Land Rover 101"  GS that had been kept in storage with just delivery mileage.  ISTR they were either  ==FL--  or  --FM--  , they were taken from storage and sent to Marshall (Cambridge) for conversion to Ambulance  -  returned to service on   --GJ--  plates IIRC.

The same happened with a batch of Martian chassis/cabs, again sent to Marshalls for bodywork.

This list could be helpful with many examples of in service registrations:

www.mafva.net/other%20pages/vrnarmy.doc

Edited by radiomike7
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3 hours ago, ruxy said:

There is one main exception that comes to mind , however for exact build dates / conversion / change to Reg. plates - I would have to trawl through several reference books.

This concerned quite a large batch of  Land Rover 101"  GS that had been kept in storage with just delivery mileage.  ISTR they were either  ==FL--  or  --FM--  , they were taken from storage and sent to Marshall (Cambridge) for conversion to Ambulance  -  returned to service on   --GJ--  plates IIRC.

A bit more info. until I can think where the full story can be located.  Seems I was out a few years on the date of manufacture but I got the  --GJ--   correct..

 

QUOTE.

Second Generation

The Second Generation was based on a rebuilt 101 Forward Control and had a comparatively short production run. All 101-based Ambulances were built during 1981-2 using factory-remanufactured 1976 vehicles, 101FC production having ceased in 1978. All share the GJ-series of registrations.

SOURCE

http://www.emlra.org/index.php/vehicles/vehicles-military-land-rover-ambulances

---------------------------------

ISTR there was a good long  feature about military plate Reg. Nos. in the Ex-MLRA  'Newsletter - but that would probably be one dated over 25 years ago.

 

Edited by ruxy
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4 hours ago, ruxy said:

There is one main exception that comes to mind , however for exact build dates / conversion / change to Reg. plates - I would have to trawl through several reference books.

This concerned quite a large batch of  Land Rover 101"  GS that had been kept in storage with just delivery mileage.  ISTR they were either  ==FL--  or  --FM--  , they were taken from storage and sent to Marshall (Cambridge) for conversion to Ambulance  -  returned to service on   --GJ--  plates IIRC.

Looking at what has been written on the subject it seems that the early contracts for the Land Rover 1 tonnes were placed in financial year 1971-72 (hence FL) and that covered the majority of the straightforward ones – the GSs, FFRs and w/winch models, some of which were later given signals bodies.  The next large contracts were awarded in 1975-76 and these were, therefore, allocated GJ and it was this batch which contained the majority of the ambulances, so they were, correctly, GJs from the start. 

But you are correct in that a large number of these spent a long time in store and, while there, many, all?, carried different registrations.  For some odd reason, they were allocated CC plates – for chassis cab (CC previously had been allocated to “A” vehicles in the 50s).  Some of these can be found in the Merlin archive.  Once in service, however, they wore GJ registrations. 

Perhaps the FL change you’re thinking of was the 40 odd FLs which were transferred to the RAF and given AM plates.  There were no FM plates on 1 tonnes, but AM ones did appear again in Army service after 1982 when the registration system had gone tri-Service and the vehicles found themselves back with the Army having replaced previous withdrawals.  Some very late 1 tonnes carried KB and KJ registrations which had been rebuilt from chassis cabs while one or two were in service with BT plates (a Vampire currently for sale on Milweb is probably one of these).

10 68

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2 hours ago, wally dugan said:

the GJ series of numbers were issued for the tax year 1975/76

I will have to put my thinking cap on ,  it must have been a earlier batch  of of  101"  ambulance conversions - that were - re-plated.  . If I read it in a book - there is some chance , however  could have read it in a LR magazine & that would be a good few years ago.

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2 hours ago, wally dugan said:

the GJ series of numbers were issued for the tax year 1975/76

I think this goes some way to explaining :-  

Second Generation.

The Second Generation was based on a rebuilt 101 Forward Control and had a comparatively short production run. All 101-based Ambulances were built during 1981-2 using factory-remanufactured 1976 vehicles, 101FC production having ceased in 1978. All share the GJ-series of registrations .

From the same  Ex-MLRA  SOURCE  mentioned earlier.

It seems 1976 original date of manufacture ,  that seems a long time to be stored in a Ordnance Depot = possibly vehicles that had done lots of service and "re-manufactured'  down a Solihull production line during 1981-82,, for such as all new springs , transmission , engine & gearbox   ?  + a re-spray glam-job after Marshall re-body @ Cambridge.

 

Edited by ruxy
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Apparently the March 1976 contract with Rover was for around 500 chassis cabs for ambulances, because it was always intended to have an ambulance based on the 1 tonne.  New orders for Solihull were necessary to keep the 1 tonne production line going, once the initial 1971 contracts had been fulfilled, although the body for the ambulance version wasn’t ready.  

In fact the actual contract for the ambulance bodies wasn’t let to Marshall’s until December 1979 so the chassis cabs themselves remained in storage (receiving the CC registrations while they were there).  Marshalls then took delivery of the first batch of these chassis cabs in 1980 and first deliveries to units followed in 1981.  I don’t think these were re-bodied former GS vehicles (FL reg) so there shouldn’t have been any need for rebuilding them at Solihull.

10 68

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It is interesting that the CC series of numbers has been raised as the first issue was to the SALADIN but the second issue was to BEDFORD RLs chassis cabs awaiting for fitment of Reynolds recovery equipment. l am going to print off a few of the 419b cards for GJ  101s just to see if the CC series numbers appear

Edited by wally dugan
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I had a quick trawl through the Merlin archive which is dated about 2012, I suppose.  Searching against contract WV12074 - the contract of Dec 76 for the 1 tonnes including the chassis cabs on one of the 7 pages brought up 72CC33, 72CC42, 72CC53, 75CC90 and 77CC12.  No details of which vehicles they were, but all described as being green gloss and, of course, no longer in service.  Chassis numbers were given and DISs of 1982 and SoSs of 1998.

10 68

Edited by 10FM68
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  • 3 years later...

Hi All

I noted that ERM plate below in standard formate

Frame.jpg.db8794612992e037044c1a08d2aae28f.thumb.jpg.2483048107fb1bfbe44a74283180fd62.jpg

the top line being the ERM.

which I have found,  11 AA 11 number letter number,

except when its not, But still using the same plate

ex, JXX 953, KYW 807, etc 

So be careful on what you rub off.

Civilian formate does not mean Civilian, but Government.

 

regs

Rupert

 

 

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