Kit Preview : 1/76 Scalelink Citroen Traction 15/6 (SLC138)
About the manufacturer
Scalelink is a large UK online model store. They carry a wide range of military and railroad modeling accessories in many scales. Of special interest are UK OO gauge (1/76) rail accessories and figures. They also have their own line of white metal 1/76 vehicles, mostly prewar British civilian cars and trucks. Scalelink acquired part of SMA's range. Their catalog only shows accessories and decalsa from the time being. Hopefully we'll see SMA kits up soon. The Matador 1/76 range is also available (which includes some very nice ex 4MilMod kits). Shipping to the US is 10GBP up to 50GBP, then jumps to 20GBP.
About the vehicle
The Citroen Traction is a mythical car, at least in France. The confusing part is that it is actually a full range with several engines, wheelbases, and body types. As the model was in production from 1934 to 1957, there are quite a few variations to contend with. After a couple hours googling the web, here is what I came up for the immediate prewar models.
In 1938, The Traction received "pilot wheels", which had an elegant row of slots near the rim. As they were larger than previous wheels, the fenders were widened to accomodate this. The wheels were red for the 7, yellow for the 11 and beige for the 15. As the pilot wheels were abandoned postwar, they are representative of all cars built between 1938 and 1945.
The Tractions came with 3 engines, a 1.6L 4 cyl. for the 7 series, a 4 cyl. 1.9L 4 cyl. for the 11 series and a 2.9L 6 cyl. for the 15/6. Focusing on sedans only the 1938 range included the 7C, 11BL, 11B and 15/6. To add to the confusion, the 11BL is often called a 11 "legere" (light) and the 11B a 11 "normale" (standard).
The 7C and 11BL shared the same body, with a wheelbase of 2.91m and the following measurements: length 4.45m, width 1.67m, height 1.52m.
The 11B and 15/6 shared a larger shell with a 3.09m wheelbase. The 11B had the following sizes: length 4.65m, width 1.79m, height 1.54m. Due to the 15/6 having a longer hood, it was longer by 11cm.
Apart from sharing an engine the 11B and 11BL are two very different cars. The Tamiya 1/48 kit is the 11BL.
Tractions were also built in Slough for the UK market. The 11BL was renamed Light 15, the 11B the 15. The 15/6 was only built from 1940 in the UK onward and called the Six.
Everything is explained in more detail here.
Despite its excellent road handling, the Traction's low ground clearance made it unpopular with French Army procurement services. Only a couple hundred were ordered from Citroen before June 1940. A number were requisitioned in the provinces but the Paris region passed on them as they had a wider selection to choose from.
After the fall of France Tractions were used by the Germans in Europe. Some changed sides again in 1944. FFI Tractions are a powerful symbol of the Liberation in France (that and Glenn Miller's "in the Mood").
About the kit
Though it says Light 15 (11BL) on the box, the kit is closest to a six cylinder Citroen 15/6. The tell is the space behind the rear side windows. The 11 is much shorter there.
The Scalelink model measures 6.1cm inlength with a wheelbase of more or less 4cm. It scales out to a 11B/15 (wheelbase = 309cm). The hood is however much too long for an 11 and even for a 15/6. The grille sticks out ahead of the headlights, which is characteristic of the 15. The 11 has its headlights well ahead of the grille. The 11 has two small vent doors on each side of the hood where the 15/6 has a row of closely packed louvers (more than 50). The kit has neither.
To illustrate the point here are 2 1/43 diecasts, the 11B on the left, the 15/6 on the right.
The kit is simple with a one piece body, a chassis with molded seats, 4 nicely done wheels, 2 lights, grille and steering wheel. The instruction sheet is rudimentary and not that useful for such a simple model. The casting is of high quality. I would rate it very close to MMS. Personally, I was expecting the quality of an SMA model and this is a positive surprise.
Here is what I would do to get a more accurate model:
For the 11: shorten the hood by 2mm, cement the grille, making sure it is flush, scribe the 4 vent doors. I think it is easier to cut out plastic templates and use them to scribe the doors.
For the 15: remove the bumpers, add 2 bent plastic strips to each bumper that will act as springs (see picture above), cement the bumpers back on. This should extend the car by 2.5mm. Archer make some very interesting HO scale louvres. the 14in size in HO scales out to about 30cm in 1/76. They are available at Rollmodels for 15USD. It's not cheap but you get a near lifetime supply.
The louvre detail on the 15/6 can be seen here.
Reviewed on November 16, 2007. Updated on October 27, 2011