AEC Armored Command Vehicle Dorchester HP Version

One of the British vehicles that interested me was this Armored Command Vehicle. In one or the other way it attracted me. Maybe the strange nose ? I don't know. But I know it served with the British and Canadian Army during World War II in Northern Europe from the D-Day landings to the final battles in 1945. So making it a vehicle well within my field of interest. What made it more interesting was, that a 1/35th scale model was released by SKP Model. This model features the big nose model of the Dorchester, depicting it as the HP version.


The 'Dorchester' Armoured Command Vehicle, official designation Armoured Command Vehicle (AEC) 4x4. entered production during 1941 to replace the armoured command vehicles which were to have been produced by Guy Motors on their 'Lizard' 4x4 chassis but, because of other commitments, could not he manufactured in the required numbers. And besides this, the Guy was too small for the purpose it was intended for.

The Guy Lizard

The AEC (Associated Equipment Company Ltd of Southall) chassis used for the ‘Dorchester ‘ ACV was the 12 ft 7½-inch wheelbase 0853 model with an AEC 95 bhp 6-cylinder diesel engine. This chassis was basically the same as that used for other AEC military vehicles of the time including the Matador Medium Artillery Tractor and Deacon SP 6-pdr anti-tank gun, but was fitted with the fuel tank on the nearside, a wireless generator in place of the winch of the Matador and special brackets on the chassis frame to carry the armoured body; 13.50 x 20 Runflat tyres were fitted as standard. These specialised vehicles were used as mobile headquarters by the commanders of armoured formations and their staffs and by the Royal Signals in forward areas for providing wireless links with rear units, and two basic versions of the ‘Dorchester’ were produced, the HP (High Powered) model and the LP (Low Powered) which were fitted with long range and short range wireless equipment respectively. Some ‘Dorchester’, mainly the HP version, were fitted with false projecting bonnets. The armoured body, which was constructed of armour plate on steel framing, was of simple box shape with access doors in the sides and rear. The radiator armour was carried on brackets fitted to the forward end of the chassis members and two towing eyes were provided on the nose, these being fixed with bolts through the armour plate to secure the eyes to the vehicle chassis Hinged armoured flaps with vision slots were provided over the driving windows and beneath the forward end of the vehicle was a curved shield to deflect cooling air to the radiator. Other standard external finings were the ventilators in the roof corners of the LP version, three hatches in the roof, a folding step below the rear door with two towing eyes on the body at the sides of the step and on the HP version curved plates were fixed over the sloping corners of the roof Sections of aerial mast were carried in brackets on the offside of most HP vehicles. On early production vehicles a simple rolled canopy was fixed on the sides with a folding canopy frame below but on later production vehicles complete tentage was provided with the tent roofs in rolls on the vehicle sides and the remaining tentage carried in packs strapped in other locations as shown on the drawings. These tent extensions served as living accommodation or extra office space for the staff and crews. Various other fittings were sometimes added when the vehicles were in service such as roof racks and fuel and water carriers Installed in the armoured body were map tables, cupboards for equipment and maps and seats with safety harness for the staff in addition to the communications equipment. The "Dorchester' was used in the North African and Italian campaigns and later by armoured formations of the 21st Army Group in North West Europe. Towards the closing stages of the war in Europe the ‘Dorchester* was superseded in production and eventually joined in service by an AEC 6X6 armoured command vehicle which was also produced in HP and LP versions.

After some research I came acros some original stowage diagrams of the Dorchester HP version of the Command Vehicle. These drawings show the exterior and interior of the vehicle.

On the page below from the Vehicle Data Book of the Canadian Army Overseas Manual 1944 you can find the role of the vehicle and see what equipment it had. Also the overall dimensions are evident.

The Models and Materials needed
One of the paint schemes provided by SKP Model places this vehicle in Northern Europe, Holland during the operations in the autumn of 1944. This vehice belonging to the 1st Polish Armoured Division. More accurately in the south of the Netherlands propably somewhere around Breda.

Another picture shows the AEC Dorchester ACV HP as it appeared somewhere in Normandy during 1944, after the Allies started the leberation of France.

Below a scale drawing of the vehicle, with some pictures of the vehicle depicting the tent covers as this is shown in the drawing.

The unit insignia on the left rear side identifies this vehicle belonging to the British 23rd Armoured Brigade. The 23rd was raised in Liverpool on 1 November 1940 by redesignation of the 23rd Army Tank Brigade, hence the Liver Bird. This flash could be square or round as can be seen on both pictures. The service marking further identifies it as belonging to the Royal Signals, square with white above blue and number 71 in Red numerals.The pictures were taken somewhere in Italy. A nice subject for a diorama.

1 3

The service markings as they are shown on the vehicle above. 1 on the right front side and 3 on the right rear side. The divisional sign 2 of the 23rd Armoured Brigade on the left front and left rear side. The vehicle number L4426448. Another interesting item is the sign with the big 'G' and the text ACV I, Unsure about what this means. Probably Armoured Command Vehicle no I. G Company ?

Above a Dorchester (probably an LP version) in the field. On the right a view inside the Dorchester ACV. For more information you can also visit the Panzerserra page.

Below two other interior views of a Dorchester ACV. Both are original WW 2 pictures that were colorised. In the left picture a Wireless Set 53 is visible.

The Canadian HP Version of the AEC Dorchester.

Below a picture of the HP version taken in september 1944 during the liberation of EIndhoven. This vehicle was part of the Guards armoured Division HQ as was indicated by the number 50 on the left mud guard. It shows a darker underside and probably white topside what would indicate it as a Royal Signals vehicle.

Where to find information
Publications found on the AEC Dorchester

Article from Classic Military Vehicle No 186, November 2016.

Article from Military Machines International December 2013

Stowage Diagrams Chilwell Catalogue No 60/110




Building The Models


The Final Result