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Da Vinci Armored Car Kit

Academy Leonardo da Vinci Armored Car Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2010 Manufacturer Academy
Subject Da Vinci Armored Car Scale N/A
Kit Number 18135 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Fun project that highlights the engineering genius of Leonardo Da Vinci Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $19.95

Leonardo Da Vinci developed a number of designs that were well before their time. His vision of vertical flight with his spiral helicopter, paddle wheel-powered vessels, and the early armored car may have been laughable in his day, but were the stepping stones for today's MV-22 Osprey, turbine-powered Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and M1 Abrams tank (and their analogs from other nations of course).

Da Vinci Armored Car Kit Da Vinci Armored Car Kit

In the case of the armored car, Da Vinci envisioned an armor-clad wooden structure that was fitted over a heavy-duty carriage and could be moved by cranking the drive system by hand. The armored car was to be manned by a crew of eight, each one taking part in the propulsion of the car as well as operating two of the 16 cannons that protrude out from the slit in the hull.

Some analysts have looked at the details of the drive system and question the viability of such a mechanism on the wagon roads of the day. I wonder how you could reload those guns under fire when those cannons still relyed on front-loaded canon balls to be rammed down the barrel after their powder charges. Then there is that slit all the way around the vehicle that still exposed the crew to small arms fire. These were all details that kept the armored car and eventually the tank from coming into being until early in the 20th century when the war to end all wars broke out in Europe.

Academy has released this educational kit of Leonardo Da Vinci's 1485 design of the armored car. This kit is molded in brown and black styrene and presented on two parts trees. Assembly is a simple snal-together approach and the completed model moves using spring power. The external parts of the model are designed to be as close to the copper-clad color of Da Vinci's day to preclude the need for paint. If you do paint, you'll probably wear it back off again when you play with it on your desk.

Assembly of the is completely snap-together - no glue, paint, or batteries required. This project literally took a few minutes though a careful eye to the instructions is required to ensure that the various gears and sprockets are properly oriented so that the spring-powered motor will drive the car. When you get bored, simply wind up the crown at the top of the vehicle, sit it on a hard surface, and flip the switch.

da Vinci da Vinci

This is a nice-looking model that is a snap (pun intended) to assemble and will be fun for your child to learn a little history or as a nice conversation piece on your desk at work or at home.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!