Jump to content

Paint for WW1 British vehicles

1914 RRAC

Recommended Posts

Would anyone know the shade of green likely used on a 1914 Pattern Rolls-Royce Armoured car (western front service)?

I'm looking for a present day colour match if possible. I contacted Bovington who were very helpful, but they didn't have a suggestion. I also got a colour swatch from Gillespie coatings (USA) of a dozen military shades of green, but which one (if any) to use?

With the chassis of my '25 Silver Ghost RRAC now almost complete, it's time to paint it (and the armour plate once I get to that stage) before putting the drive train back in for the final time.

Perhaps there is a verified shade from a primary source used on other WW1 British vehicles which could be used? 

No Airfix colour suggestions please unless verifyable, this is not a model.

Roger (USA) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Roger, In 1914, miltary vehicles were painted in a 'battleship' grey. This was superseded  during 1915 by the introduction of 'Service Colour', which was a drab 'bronze' green supplied in powdered pigment form, to be mixed by the units and workshops themselves. This led to a variety of shades and explains the differences found in surviving samples.

My own project, Thornycroft J type 2393 has been matched to an original sample from a 1917 dated equipment box, the inside of which has been protected and has survived well. I would be happy to send you a sample to match to if you pm your address.



Your project sounds very interesting and I'm sure there would be considerable interest in some pictures or even a thread !





Edited by Tomo.T
Spelling malfunction
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Tomo and thank you for your very informative reply.

Having studied the vast majority of RRAC pics online over the past few years, I decided to build a 'tribute' 1914 pattern RRAC on a 1925 Rolls -Royce chassis I purchased from a marque collector in Pennsylvania USA.

Differences in the chassis between '14 and '25 are minimal and it takes a trained eye as they say...

Replica builds out there vary from pretty good to should be used for large calibre target practice. I'm hoping to build an accurately dimensionsed vehicle with equipment for in field service of 1918 but in 'green' rather than Camo and Uralite seen in 1918.

As a long standing active member of the US based Great War Association in Newville PA, it will indeed see service in the field and will of course be Vickers armed with a crew of 3. About 700 of us meet twice a year (pandemic permitting) and recreate battles in France of 1918 on the no public allowed 150+ acre site, complete with dug outs, trenches, shell holes, red cross, dressing stations, period 12 bed field hospital and lashings of barbed wire in a heavily cratered No Mans Land. It's quite the experience, especially when 6 biplanes dog fight over the mile of trenches...

Anyway, enough of the background before this post is diverted to another forum, I'd be very interested in obtaining a paint chip from the ammo box or a matching paint code so I can have it mixed. I'll contact you accordingly.

Here's a pic of the build to give you an idea of how it's coming along.

Regards to all


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like a great project.  There was a replica WWI RR Silver Ghost project here in Australia a few years ago but the bloke passed away and when the RR came up for auction, the wining bidder only took the rolling chassis and the scrappy got the complete replica body which went to China in the great scrap drive at the time.  Do you have the correct Silver Ghost engine and running gear or are you going to use the what ever engine you have removed?  I am restoring a 1929 20/25hp Rolls and I am lucky to have the complete rolling chassis with all matching numbers. This is the 20/25 chassis as it is at the moment. It was severely damaged in an accident in 1974 but is now dead straight.


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Rick,

Thanks for posting the pic of your frame.

Originally, I was going to fabricate a chassis and had planned to source some wheels and springs etc. from the Rolls- Royce Foundation (USA) where I volunteer one day a month. Then I located the R-R chassis I subsequently acquired. There was a Phantom P1 drive train in it, but the owner already had a buyer for it. Regardless, the P1 engine is quite different from the motor that was fitted to the RRACs, so it was never really a serious option.

Once word began to spread of my build in R-R circles, people began to contact me and that led to me locating a 'correct' engine and gearbox at what was really a very favourable price. I took a trip to Steve Litten at Ghost Parts near Cleveland Ohio USA as he specializes in the restoration of Silver Ghosts. Very accommodating chap originally from NZ, Steve took me through his extensive workshops where his team were restoring several 'Civilian' Ghosts. As we moved from room to room, I began to make mental notes of what I would need for this engine and the costs involved. It wasn't long before I ran out of fingers and realized the price of parts alone was going into the tens of thousands of (US) Dollars.

So bearing in mind that this is not a restoration of an original vehicle and that it will be used in (reenactor) anger on a variety of off-road terrain, focus became more on correct exterior appearance and driveability than originality. I therefore decided on and easily located a Ford 300 inline 6 engine ( 4.9 Liter) of mid '80s manufacture and a Ford 4 speed gearbox with a 'Granny' first gear. Using a cam designed for this engine when used in a RV motorhome application, it will have plenty of low end grunt to carry a crew of 3, our personal equipment a Vickers and around 800 rounds of (blank) .303 ammo on an extended 4 day weekend at Newville giving the Hun a damn good thrashing. These are full immersion events, rather like a Territorial/National Guard weekend but using WW1 equipment. Only in America!

As you can see from pics in my previous post, I made a drive shaft to link the Ford gearbox to the R-R rear axle and torque tube (which contains a partial R-R driveshaft  3/4 length with a 10 bolt flange). The radiator is a genuine R-R item circa 1917 and is of dubious water tightness. It's a huge cast iron affair and took 2 people to lift it into place on the chassis. To handle cooling, I 've bolted an aluminium rad to the back of it with a (coincidentally) 1918cfm Spal puller fan.  In reality, it's unlikely I'll ever get out of 2nd gear in the terrain of Newville PA, so after discussion with Spal USA, the fan should do the job.

Engine mounts are a combination of R-R and my modifications/fabrications - no original lugs were harmed in the installation of the Ford Powertrain, so if for any reason in the far future, someone wanted to convert the car back to civilian spec. with a body and OE engine, they can do so without cursing my memory. 



  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Roger,  Thank you for all that.  I can understand exactly where you are coming from re the costs involved.  My 20/25hp has 'One Shot' lubrication which obviously hasn't worked for a long time and the shackles and bushes all have to be replaced.  A big expensive job but so what, if I don't spend it my kids will, so I've taken up skiing. 'Spending the Kids Inheritance'. This is a photo of my car, GGP19, taken about 1968. It is known in Australian RR circles as 'The Safari Saloon'  If I can get it back to that, I will be happy.  Regards Rick.


aaa 1929 GGP19 9.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hello all,

There is an original 1914 Pattern Rolls Royce armoured car in Ahmednagar India.  It is in a very sorry condition.  It's wire wheels were swapped for NAP wheels when in service in the 1920s.

Rumor has it that this car was measured and a replica based on these measurements was started in Australia some years ago, but the replica was lost in the transfer of a business.  I don't know if this is the same Australian replica mentioned in the thread above, but I would like to find these measurements as they are the only ones known to exist of an actual 1914 Pattern car and I am not likely to make a trip to India with a measuring tape anytime soon!



Roger, what have you got for plans?  To my knowledge there are no surviving original plans from 1914.  There is however a 1930s plan set prepared by Air Ministry for the RAF which details the update of a 1914 Pattern RR.  A few sheets from this set are reproduced in David Fletcher's excellent Haynes Manual.  This plan set mostly details the equipment going into the car though, as they apparently already had the body and chassis.  I have a copy of this plan set so if you need any particulars we can discuss by PM.  Here's the main index sheet from this set, as shown in the Haynes manual:


(Note:  This book seems to be going out of print, but may still be available through the Tank Museum's Shop online)

The RREnthusiasts Club archives has quite a number of plans of the mechanical bits that make up the chassis of the 1920 Pattern as well as the India Pattern, but dimensioned plans of the bodywork are hard to come by.  There are a few golden nuggets to be found there though.

Let me know if you need any information on Rolls Royce armoured cars.  I've been collecting books and images for more than 20 years, so I have quite a bit.


Mark (USA)

Edited by MarkV
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Mark,

Thanks for your input, very interesting indeed.

No, I don't have plans. I've been scaling everything off known measurements in photographs. In the future, I would like to visit the UK to visit the 1920 Pattern Bovington car and then over to Ireland to see the Curragh car. So many questions...

As you correctly state, the only known RRAC 'survivor' of the 1914 (original) pattern, rests at a cavalry museum in India and is in poor condition as your pic illustrates. It certainly would be good to obtain verified dimensions of it's armor.

I've only been collecting RRAC related literature since 2017 and I'm sure there are many gaps to fill. I'd be grateful to talk to you by PM.


This RRAC tribute build is in two stages; the drive able rolling chassis, then the armor and woodwork. I'm currently working on converting this Rolls-Royce Springfield chassis from LHD to RHD using a Silver Ghost steering box and column. So I'm making every realistic attempt to follow the original vehicles specification with the exception of the  Ford powertrain.

One book/plans/pamphlet etc. which has never surfaced to the best of my knowledge is literature which would have been supplied to the several hull builders. Note Rolls-Royce only supplied the chassis and powertrain - these rolling chassis were driven from the R-R factory in Derby to various locations to have their Scottish rolled armor plate fitted and 'pick-up bed style' rear, constructed from wood. 

 I've never seen and don't really know if such a document exists, although it stands to reason, there must have been 'Instructions and dimensions' for fitters and carpenters. I hope...









Link to comment
Share on other sites


It is possible that the armor plate was provided as a flat-pack to the erectors who then assembled it on their own.  It makes sense that there would have been some sort of instructions provided to the erectors for the bodywork, but I have not seen it.  There was some variation in the 1914 Pattern cars which may be the result of differing approaches among the erectors.  There was a war on and things were being rushed, initially at least. 


The following are companies I have seen associated with the construction of RR ACs in WWI:

There has been some RR AC research into the William Beardmore & Co. and the A.F. Craig corporate archives with no luck so far. 

Barker & Co. Coachbuilders records are split between the Coventry Archives and the London Science Museum Archives.  Does anyone in the Forum have access?  Here are the links:  https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/c3cc77ba-0188-40d0-af66-77674616d131


J.E. Thomas Auto Coachbuilding Co. is also sometimes mentioned in connection with these cars, but as they liquidated in 1916, I don't know if any of their records have survived. 

Muir and Findlay of Glasgow is another firm. 

Another potential source for plans would be the builders of the so-called "Interim Pattern" RR AC.  A small number of these cars were produced in Glasgow during the war.  There is a photo taken in England showing two of these vehicles, so there were at least that many.  There is another photo of one of these cars with a sign reading "The Western Motor Coy. Ltd., Show Rooms 60 Buchanan St. Glasgow."  (Both photos are in the book, The Edwardian Rolls.)  They are distinguished by taller turrets placed on bodywork and chassis similar to the 1914 Pattern.  In addition the driver's vision plate is in two independently hinged pieces and the vision slits are differently cut than in typical 1914 Pattern cars.  At least one of these cars subsequently appears in the LAMBs and then the RAF in Iraq.  One of this Pattern car somehow even makes it into the 1929 Soviet movie "Arsenal" shot in the USSR!


It is reported that the firm of Duff, Morgan and Vermont produced the drawings of the RR AC for the Admiralty.  The War Office approached them post WWI when they wanted more cars only to be told that the drawings had been destroyed in 1918.  There is a bit of intrigue behind this though as the "Vermont"  in this business was MP, Naval Officer, and British Russian Armoured Car Division commander Oliver Locker-Lampson.  ("Vermont" was a pseudonym.  His mother was from the US state of Vermont.)  Had it become publicly known at the time this business arrangement might have raised a few eyebrows for various reasons.  The descendant of this company still exists but does not have records from the period. 


PS - Roger - Look for my PM.


Edited by MarkV
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Did you receive my PM?


Also, In my previous posting I mentioned that some research had been made into the records of A.F. Craig of Paisley, one of the original builders, looking for plans for the Rolls-Royce Armoured Car.  Just to clarify, that research was done at the University of Glasgow.  According to the National Archives database, additional A.F. Craig company records also exist at the Paisley Museum, at the Summerlee Heritage Center and at the Bradford Industrial Museum.  I am not aware of any research having been done at these archives.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Mark,

A little late in replying due to a family tragedy I'm afraid, but starting to get back to working on the RRAC project.

No, I didn't receive your PM; perhaps you could re-send it please.

I gratefully received a paint colour chip from Tommo which is excellent. I'll be turning it over to my local automotive paint shop for them to do the match next week. The colour match was a real problem and I would have hated to paint the vehicle (when I get to that point) the wrong shade only to have someone come up to me and with primary evidence tell me it's the wrong shade. All hail Tommo!  

Question: WW1 - would the body be brush or spray painted?, 

The LHD to RHD conversion is now 90% complete; I just have to lengthen the steering tube (I had a R-R Phantom 1 tube which is shorter) and then start restoration of the steering wheel.

The cooling system is now also complete with a Spal 1918cfm fan to draw ambient air through the original R-R rad matrix and the aluminium rad. bolted to the back of it. While it's of course a radical departure from standard (although you'd only know it if you lifted the bonnets to take look inside the engine compartment) it should amply address sustained low speed cooling issues where air flow is minimal.

A recurring question which I've never really had an accurate answer to regarding the RRAC, how does the steel hull (body) attach to the chassis frame? I've studied countless online pics, but to date, there's nothing come across my desk which adequately either describes of illustrates how/where it mounts. 

Perhaps someone could help with this question please.








Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Roger,

I am sorry to hear about the family tragedy and wish the best to you and yours.

I checked my profile in the HMVF and see that you just viewed my message.  Hopefully we can establish more direct contact via email shortly.

With regards to the application of paint, it could have been sprayed or brushed at that time, but I would expect that the Army's color at least was more likely brushed on. 

As a 1914 Pattern RR AC the bare chassis would have first been painted as per typical civilian standards for Rolls-Royce at that time.  When the armor was then added the whole thing would have been repainted the Royal Navy's gray.  Here is a 1915 painting of the grey cars in Naval service at the Daily Mail Airship Shed at Wormwood Scrubs.


After transfer to the Army, the Army's paint would then have been applied over the top of all of this.  I suspect that the further the car happened to be from England when transferred, the later the color change occurred and the more likely it would have been brush applied. 

Note that I didn't say what the Army's color of paint might have been.  It is hard to be pinned down with only B&W photos and car names to go by.  The cars that served on the Western front would have been painted in colors appropriate to that environment.  I suspect that they were painted as per most motor vehicles operating in that theater.  The green color previously discussed in this thread seems likely, although some RR ACs in France sported multi-color camouflage.  The RR ACs in service on the Western Front were subsequently shipped to the Middle East and probably carried their (green?) paint jobs with them. 

The cars in Southwest Africa, East Africa and Egypt seem to have maintained Naval traditions a bit longer, and possibly the color of paint as well.  When the cars were moved on to Mesopotamia, there were LAMB RR ACs named "Grey Knight" and "Grey Terror" in 1917 - "Grey Terror" was still called that in 1921 when serving in 2 ACC of the Tank Corps.  "Silver Dart" and "Silver Ghost" also existed across the same period.   These names imply shades of grey.  RR ACs with "Gold" or "Yellow" in their names first appear in 1921 and carry on through the 1920s.  I suspect - but it is just a suspicion - that this is when the cars first began to acquire sand colors.  Here is a Post WWI Tank Corps recruiting poster showing a sand colored car.


Like most folks who study these cars keep saying:  When it comes to modeling Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars, the surest course of action is to pick a particular car at a particular time that is well documented and then work to match that one. 


With regards to the attachment of the body:  Rolls-Royce provided the running chassis and some other assemblies but the armored bodies were installed by others.  Even so, there are RR plans that are relevant.  I'd start with the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club's technical archives: 


They do not seem to have index sheets or Special List of Parts sheets specific to the 1914 Pattern RR AC, but they do have the lists for the 1920 Pattern and later armoured cars.  Presumably the basic assembly was similar. 

The drawing that shows the attachments for the body on 1920 Pattern and later armoured cars is F9331 "Starter Arrangement on Frame".  My guess is that this sheet was traced from a coachbuilder's drawing for the armored cars, which is now missing.  This sheet shows the angle iron frame at the base of the armor, the wood spacer blocks, and the elevations of the floorboards relative to the chassis.



Two of the angle irons shown in the above drawing are further described on drawings F8934 "Center Angle Iron for Armoured Car Chassis" and F8935 "Front Angle Iron for Armoured Chassis".







These angle irons can be seen standing vertically in the photos taken of the partly stripped "Flying Fox" after it was wrecked in Persia in 1920.  Note that this car burned and so the wooden spacer blocks that would have been between the angle irons and the chassis have burned away, allowing the angles to drop down directly onto the chassis rails.



They can also be seen silhouetted in the photo of LC^0808 being stripped to convert it into a tender on page 170 of the book Masters of Mayhem.   This image also provides a useful view of the underside of the top deck, turret ring and driver's visor.


This image is being shared for research/educational purposes.  I recommend anyone with an interest in these cars acquire the book as there are a number of good images.

I hope this helps. 






  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


I was just looking through the 1934 Air Ministry "Kidbrooke" plans for their 1914 Pattern RR ACs and noticed that they also show the angle irons used to attach the body to the frame, although by that time they had made a few alterations, including knocking off the sharp corners that protruded into the fighting compartment, welding on brackets to mount a seat (originally there was just a cushion on the floor), and adding an intermediate angle iron bracket. 

While looking at the Kidbrooke plans, I thought I'd have a go at reconstructing the turret in CAD.  I found that the geometry of the turret and the dimensions of the various bits attached to it do allow one to reconstruct the dimensions of its plates.  Its not very flashy and there are no sound effects, but here's a brief fly-through of my CAD model:

Note that to save time I've omitted the angle straps that affix the top plates as well as the nuts and bolts.  - The 1934 rebuild plans call for these angle straps to be 1"x1"x 1/4" duraluminum "shaped to fit on assembly", but I suspect the WWI originals would have been iron.  Presumably the use of duraluminum allowed them to be more easily bent to shape.


The 1934 Kidbrooke plan set includes about 140 sheets detailing the various bits that went into the cars at that time, but provides few direct measurements of the actual armor plates themselves, which presumably were WWI-vintage.  While this CAD process appears to work for the turret, the information to reconstruct the rest of the body may be insufficient to precisely size the remaining plates.  I am still looking at it though.  - It would be much simpler if someone could take a measuring tape to the hull plates of the surviving cars in India, England or Ireland!



PS - Roger, have you received the PM I sent some time ago?  Unless I am doing it wrong you should be able to see it if you click on your user name at the upper right of this forum page and navigate to your messages. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...