Vehicle records

The RLC Museum holds a number of different types of vehicle record. These include the 'B' vehicle data cards, key cards, a few vehicle key cards, some maintenance records, vehicle contract ledgers and vehicle manuals and reference books. We have recently added the data from MERLIN to our records. The contract ledgers and vehicle manuals do not relate to individual vehicles, and these may be viewed with a subscription. The other records relate to individual vehicles, and can be downloaded for a fee of £35 per vehicle. To see if we hold a copy of the record for your vehicle, please search vehicle records. If we do have a record, then you will be offered the opportunity to place an order and pay to download the records that we hold.

The RLC Museum holds a small collection of about 4,000 vehicle history cards. These cards contain a history in a similar manner to the B Vehicle Data cards, but are much earlier in date. Also, the only cards that appear to have survived relate to trailers.

These cards were in use as early as 1936, and continued in some cases up to 1961. They contain a full history of the vehicle, although in some cases the original card has been lost and was replaced by a new card from which the earlier history was lost. It is clear from the content of some of these cards that they provided the source data which is recorded on the Key Card No. 2.

See Vehicle History cards for details of what the cards contain and also to see a list of the letter pairs in their ERM for which the RLC Museum holds vehicle history cards.

Vehicle History Card

The RLC Museum also holds a collection of vehicle history 'key cards'. These cards contain only brief details but nevertheless can still be useful when researching a particular vehicle.

From the early 1950's up to the mid-1960's, the principal way of managing vehicles was by the use of Key Cards which held data about the vehicle and, in pencil, its current allocated user. As vehicles were sold ("cast", "struck off") the details were printed in the column for the user. The cards were loose and were held in packs by letter pair. This system had the disadvantage that individual Key Cards could be lost. Key Card No 2 provided a back-up to the main card and it is these Key Cards that are held in the RLC Museum.

See Key cards for details of what the cards contain and also to see a list of the letter pairs in their ERM for which the RLC Museum holds key cards.

From 1949 registrations were allocated using large "registers". One was maintained for each letter pair and as contracts were let so registrations were allocated. As vehicles were delivered details of their chassis numbers and initial allocation were noted. Please note that these registers are not held by the RLC Museum. Key cards continued to be maintained to show the allocated user of a vehicle. These were written in pencil and rubbed out when a new entry was made. For vehicles in the registers a single Key Card was also maintained as a back-up.

Key Card No. 2

It appears that these cards were introduced in the late 1960's, and that the details from the Key Cards were transferred to the 'B' vehicle data cards by the end of 1967. The RLC Museum holds the Army 'B' vehicle data cards previously held by the Museum of Army Transport. Other cards held at the RAF Museum, Royal Navy Library in Portsmouth, RE Museum (mostly "C" Vehicles), and at the Tank Museum ("A" Vehicles. These cards can help trace the history of individual Army soft-skin vehicles that were in service with the British Army from the early 1940's. See 'B' Vehicle records for details of what the cards contain.

The RLC Museum holds approximately 210,000 'B' Vehicle date cards. This by no means equates to a card for each soft skinned vehicle that entered service with the Army from the early 1940s to the late 1980s. Of the cards held by The RLC Museum the vast majority relate to vehicles in service in the mid 1960s and entering service up to the late 1980s. It is therefore possible that a card does not exist for a specific vehicle. Equally, in a small number of cases a vehicle record card may not have been retained or been lost by previous custodians of the records.

'B' Vehicle data card

The RLC Museum also holds a collection of 'Vehicle key cards'. These cards contain even briefer details than the Key Cards and may provide additional information when researching a particular vehicle.

The RLC Museum only holds about 1,000 of these cards, which appear to have been used from the late 1960's onwards. We think that it possible that these cards were used in theatre in the BAOR, but as we are uncertain we would be grateful for any information which you may have on their use and purpose.

See Vehicle Key Cards for details of what these cards contain.

Vehicle Key Card

The RLC Museum also holds some Vehicle maintenance records. The records include maintenance job sheets, time sheets, parts requisitions, and various mainternance check lists. So far, we only have records from Berlin, and whilst most date from the 1980's up to the mid-1990's, although there are a few from the early 1970's.

See Vehicle maintenance records for details of what is included in these records.

Maintenance Job Card

The MOD started using the MERLIN computer system from about 1982 onwards, and from 1989 all vehicle records were held in this system. MERLIN has now been replaced by JAMES and the data from MERLIN has been archived. Data in MERLIN extends up to 2013 in some cases, but it appears that vehicles manufactured after 2009 are only recorded in JAMES.

As at mid-2018, the MOD has confirmed that it is goung out to tender to replace JAMES.

See MERLIN for details of what is included in these records.

MERLIN data extract

The RLC Museum holds a small number of ledgers that record vehicle contracts from the beginning of WW2 until 1974, when it appears that records were transferred to a computer system. These do not show details of individual vehicles, and appear to have been used to record the number of vehicles purchased, and also to produce price estimates.

Page from Contract Ledger

The RLC Museum holds a number of vehicle manuals and reference books.

The vehicle manuals are generally specific to a make or model, and the Journal search enables these to be searched by specifying Vehicels as material type (see "Advanced Search").

In addition, there is a wide variety of reference books. These include general vehicle descriptions, vehicle procedure manuals, vehicle literature reference manuals and vehicle data books.

There are a few abbreviations that appear to be specific to Vehicle records, and these are listed below

Army Book 562

There was an "Army Book 562" for each military vehicle. It was more than just a registration document. Apart from serial numbers it also contained asset codes, key numbers & quantities, the reliability classification, servicing history, workshop repairs, engine & gearbox change histories, EMER modifications., etc. Consequently, if you are lucky enough to have this book for your vehicle, it makes very interesting reading.


Automatic Data Processing Conversion, which means the vehicle data was then entered into a computer system. This could take several weeks after it was received into the depot


the Army Pay Office at Ashton-under-Lyme

Colour code

The colour code describes the colour and finish of a vehicle. The first digit describes the colour, and the second the finish.

Colour Finish
  • 0_ Multi
  • 1_ Red
  • 2_ Blue
  • 3_ Yellow
  • 4_ Brown
  • 5_ Black
  • 6_ Orange
  • 7_ Green
  • 8_ White
  • 9_ Grey or Silver
  • A_ Army Green
  • B_ Beige
  • C_ Army Commercial Colour
  • C3 Beige/Stone
  • CH Champagne
  • G_ Gold
  • N_ RN Blue
  • N3 Grey/Green
  • NI N/K Northern Ireland
  • P_ Purple
  • Q_ Turquoise
  • R_ RAF Blue
  • S_ Sand
  • V_ Silver
  • Z_ Bronze
  • _1 Matt
  • _2 Gloss
  • _3 Trade Finish
  • _4 Disruptive Pattern
  • _5 Distinctive Pattern
  • _6 IRR
  • _7 Disruptive Pattern IRR
  • _8 Distinctive Pattern IRR


Central Vehicle Depot, Ashchurch


Date in service


The date of a transaction, such as delivery or acceptance of a vehicle.


Unit Identification Number. Originlly it was the Unit Imprest Number, describing the Unit Imprest Account of the unit to the Royal Army Pay Corps (RAPC), though its value became apparent outside the RAPC and it evolved into the Unit Identitification Number. Army units always began with A and permanent units always ended with A


Vehicle Book Processed. This meant that the details of Army Book 562 were entered onto database. There would probably be an ADPCON DATE, and often this is withing a few days of the vehicle arriving at the depot.


Vehicle Book Transferred (possibly) with a date. This means details of the event, with a date, had been entered into Army Book 562.


Vehicle Depot, Ashchurch, Gloucestershire


Vehicle Supply Depot


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