Almost as soon as automobiles hit the roads of Europe, far-thinking souls began to envision the military uses of self-powered vehicles. A number of bicycles and cars sporting machine guns with a sheet or two of rudimentary armor appeared by the end of the 19th century. In the early 1900's, several prototype armored cars were put to trials by various military organizations--some of them only slightly more advanced than Leonardo da Vinci's designs of the 16th century.
The 1904 French CGV was the first fully-armored car that included the essential features of the breed for the next forty years: a rotating armed turret, and a steel-enclosed engine and crew compartment. There is disagreement among the few references available on this vehicle: it MAY have been Russian-designed, but there is no doubt that the French firm built it. One showed up in St. Petersburg, Russia, among the forces used to quell the riots which began in January, 1905 -- giving it the dubious distinction of being the first in a long line of military vehicles which fired on their own country's population. The total production was about 12 or 13 units.
Appropriately, the 1/35 kit of the CGV is produced by the French company JMGT Socrate; as far as I know, it is the only 1/35 kit they make, although they also sell two 1/72 French WWI tanks and a number of 1/48 airplanes. The kit has been around for a while, but no copyright date was in evidence. The kit arrived in a sturdy corrugated cardboard box with a poor photocopied picture of an actual car pasted to the cover. The text of the single page instructions is in French which is not a problem since this is a simple kit and an exploded-view drawing of the kit parts is also included.
The chassis/radiator/engine are cast as a single piece, as is the entire body; both are beautifully cast in a dense yellowish resin with no pits or flash. Locating holes and pins for most of the other parts are built in and the fit of all the parts looks to be excellent. The other resin parts include five wheels, two rear mudguards and flanges, one headlight, the turret and machine gun (my kit has two MGs, but the car had only one...to allow for breakage, maybe?). All are very nicely cast and will require only minimal cleanup. Two metal rods will be cut into the axles and mudguard supports.
Five parts are provided in vacuformed styrene: two front mudguards and two U-shaped channels which were carried to be used to cross ditches and streams, and the last piece, a guard for the barrel of the machine gun. This is a nice touch, as the vacuforming produces parts which are closer to scale thickness. The footsteps and the starting crank are shown as scratch-built additions. Not shown, but probably essential, would be brackets to hold the two channels.
Built from the box, the kit will result in a handsome and unusual little addition to a collection of early armored vehicles; and painted overall in grey or dark green, it is a good choice for a newcomer to resin/vacuformed kit parts. For the obsessive among us, the model could be enhanced with a multitude of rivet and bolt heads, a headlight bracket, access panel handles, and maybe a cute little spiral aa-oo-gah horn on the rooftop. Opening the window panels, doors, or windshield cover to reveal the inside details would be a major scratchbuilding effort, though some information is indeed available on the interior accoutrements.
Bottom line? An easy two- or three-day build OOB, but easily adaptable to greater detailing for a potential prize-winner.