|KIT:||Tamiya 1/48 Citroen Traction 11 CV 'Staff Car'|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Allow me to paraphrase some of this from the kit instructions. Just makes things easy as I know zilch about the actual history of the car. Anyway, today, front wheel drive and 'frame-less' monocoque bodies are the norm when it comes to automobiles. However, in the 1930s, this was something of a ground breaking design. Citroen of France was one of the major producers of cars such as this and offered these 'traction avant' or 'traction' (basically 'front wheel drive') cars, which were quite popular. The 11 CV was produced starting in 1934 and there were 7 CV and 15 CV cars as well. These designations were based on the taxable horsepower of the automobile (something that still continues in the US if you look at your car's registration).
The 11 CV was powered by an in-line four cylinder engine of 1900cc that was installed longitudinally. With no need for a drive shaft, the car could be lower to the ground, which improved cornering performance and cut on wind drag. Adding a torsion bar suspension provided a smooth and comfortable ride.
The Traction was a very popular vehicle thanks to the additional speed and fuel efficiency over other cars of the time. Naturally, the military saw that these would be good to have as staff cars so the French Army bought a number of them. With the fall of France, it was normal that these would be used by the Germans as well and saw service on all fronts. Even with the end of the war, the CV 11 was kept in production until 1957. It was one of the finalists in the Car of the Century judging of 1999 (which chose the Ford Model T as the winner).
When I read on the Forum that Tamiya had produced this car as one of its more recent kits, I knew I had to have it. I've always liked this car as it was so often used in many of the great military movies I've seen. Who can forget the opening scene of 'The Longest Day' when a man is running down a field and is mowed down by men in one of these cars. In 'The Great Escape' there is a scene where one of these cars pulls up to a group of Germans in a French cafe, machine guns them all and then drives away. These cars were used by the Gestapo in many of the thrillers on early television, such as 'Tales of the O.S.S.' and others. One may not see Mustangs or 109s in a war movie, but you have a really good chance of seeing one of these Citroens!
Much to my delight, when I walked into my favorite hobby shop, he had two on the shelf. I grabbed one and after being somewhat taken aback by the price, I still bought it and took it home. Opening the box, I saw one largish sprue, one clear sprue and one with just the car body. Total length of the car is about 3-4 inches. Not exactly huge by any means. There is easily enough room for two of these kits in the small box.
Anyway, the parts are superbly molded as you would expect. The clear bits are well done and you basically have a single clear bit that fills the interior. The windscreen and headlights are separate with the framing and windscreen wipers molded on the windscreen part. There are no chrome bits, so you'll have to either paint those on or use something like Bare Metal foil to produce the proper effect.
Naturally, this is a curbside so there isn't a ton of detail. Not unusual as these cars were rather basic in terms of the way they were outfitted. Two separate seats in the front and a large full width seat in the back. No seat belts needed, no CD player or six speaker stereo. No radio, no turn signals and no white wall tires! I should mention that plastic axles are provided so this will roll. One also gets the headlight covers with the little slits in them for the military vehicles.
Instructions are the long, fold out type you find with the less complicated Tamiya kits. Usual Tamiya paint color info and well drawn construction steps. Licenses and trim are provided for four cars. Two German army in Panzer Grey, one French Army in French Army Green and one civilian car in gloss black. The Civilian car will require a lot of detail chrome work to be done and I was surprised to see that the wheels not covered by the hub cap are actually an orange color on the civilian car. All have a tan interior. I should mention that I googled the 11 CV and there are other options for colors when it comes to the civilian cars.
I'm sure that there are some of you will balk at spending $15 for such a small kit. However, considering that their P-47D retails at $42, it is pretty well in line of things. It is sure to make into a very nice model. It is something that the diorama fiends will jump on as it can be used in all sorts of aircraft and military dioramas. It will be most interesting to see what else comes in this series.
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