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"A Rolls in the desert was above rubies..."—Thomas Edward Lawrence, a.k.a. "Lawrence of Arabia"

Lawrence of Arabia used a squadron in his operations against the Turkish forces. He called the unit of nine armoured Rolls-Royces "more valuable than rubies" in helping win his Revolt in the Desert. This impression would last with him the rest of his life; when asked by a journalist what he thought would be the thing he would most value he said "I should like my own Rolls-Royce car with enough tyres and petrol to last me all my life".

Existing photos show the car in a single drab colour scheme with dual wheels all round as the single narrow wheels tended to get bogged down in the desert sand. The most commonly seen prints depict the car in dark desert yellow with two small roundels on each side of the cowl and the identification HMAC (His Majesty's Armoured Car) Cleopatra 180 on the side engine covers. The car seems to have been armed with the standard Vickers .303 machine gun in the turret and mounts a spotlight on the front of the turret. Since photographic evidence is sketchy (some photos seem to depict a 1920 pattern RRAC, which would not have been possible), so I decided to depict an idealised rendering of the car.

I'm using the new MENG 1/35th model which can be built as either the 1914 or 1920 pattern vehicle. Since I needed the dual wheels for both front and rear axles, I required two kits. This was not a problem, as I want also to do a second model, a 1920 pattern car in service in early WWII as well.

To begin, I built up the turret as per the instructions using the 1914 pattern sequence.

At the point of this writing, I've assembled one of the dual whel units using the kit-supplied photo-etched brass spoked wheels. I was very impressed with these - the brass is very soft and easy to adjust the spokes into the shallow cone pattern required and no CA adhesive is needed. All the brass parts are trapped between styrene parts so that only styrene cement is used. I'm using pure MEK from Canadian Tire. The assembly consists of two solid styrene tires, a styrene hub, three retaining rims, four sets of spokes, a central hub cap, a polyethylene sleeve and a plastic internal cap. Once assembled, the poly cap will allow it to be pressure fit to the axle. I went slowly with this, so it took the best part of an hour but went together well with minor clamping of the rims to allow the MEK to set up. I'm taking my time so I get everything right - no rush.

This was done at our monthly IPMS Ottawa public build session at the Canadian Aero-Space Museum.

All told, I'm happy with the kit. It's moulded in a sand-coloured medium hard styrene with clear headlight lenses and a single fret of photo-etch spokes. The alternate turret for the 1920 pattern has a Boys Antitank Gun and a Lewis Gus in addition to the Vickers, and includes wide sand tires and alternate headlight mounts and fenders. At $66.00 CDN, it's a little pricey for my wallet, but I got several tax rebates (GST, Trillium and Climate Incentive) all within 2 weeks, so I was able to splurge.




 

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Discussion Starter #2

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It's certainly an interesting and offbeat vehicle for modeling. I just wonder why the Tank Encyclopedia reference illustration has the lettering on the sides of the hood in the Arial font -- designed in 1982!

Good luck with your project.
 

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Or is it the famous 19th century typeface Akzidenz-Grotesk, of which Helvetica and Arial are near-clones? Actually, it was most likely hand-painted on the original vehicle.
 

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Yep. Unfortunately, this appears to be a recreation, as the vehicle shown is a 1920 pattern, based on the wheels, fenders, running boards and stowage; and does not feature the dual wheels in front known to be used by Lawrence. It also appears to be painted battleship grey or bottle green, not desert yellow which would have been more likely.
 
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