Somua S-35 cavalry tanks changed hands several times in the period from 1940 to 1945. The intersting two- and three-colour camouflage patterns used by the French army were retained by the German captors for some time, until the vehicles were repainted Panzer Grey or in another multi-colour Wehrmacht pattern. From 1944, Somua S-35 tanks once again served in the French army, when captured vehicles were used to reinstate the 13th Dragoon Regiment. The Heller kit is a small yet beautiful scale model of the Somua tank which may be converted to the Pz.Kpfw. 35S 739(f) of the Wehrmacht. Some of these converted vehicles were eventually recaptured and served with the French army.
Excellent choice of subject, the Somua S-35 is unique in this scale. The vehicle served with the French 1st, 2nd and 3rd Division Légère Mécanique, and with the 4th Division Cuirassée de Réserve, which was beeing raised as a reserve at the start of the war.
1:72 scale model: length, width, and height are correct.
Somua tanks were painted in attractive French multi-colour camouflage patterns, and the instructions explain very well how to recreate such a pattern in miniature. The painting on the box covers shows a two-colour pattern with thin black lines separating the green and sandcoloured camouflage patches. The instructions do not show these dividing lines.
Only 40 parts, the Somua S-35 is easy to build.
The parts are practically free of flash, requiring minimal clean-up work.
Section 3 of the instructions does not indicate clearly how to place the headlight parts № 7, 15 and 16. The drawings in section 6 are more helpful. Proper placement of the headlights is critical to ensure that the hull will fit onto the chassis correctly.
The instructions suggest that the tracks should be mounted in section 3 already, but this is a mistake. The running gear needs time to dry thoroughly, otherwise the tention of the tracks will pull the return rollers out of alignment. Accordingly, the tracks should be mounted last, well after the tank has been assembled completely.
Section 4 of the instructions incorrectly places the spare fuel tank (№ 9) at the left rear of the vehicle or even onto the engine deck. The part attaches to the right rear fender.
In section 4 it looks like the exhaust pipes (№ 13) should be glued into the recess between the two engine gratings. The drawings in section 6 show more clearly that this part attaches to the top of the curved exhaust outlet.
The shovel (№ 12) is to be attached below the turret, with the blade of the shovel facing up. This seems to be a mistake, because the raised shovel blade impedes the turret traverse. In this position, the raised shovel blade would collect a pool of rainwater, and it would serve to trip and injure crew members walking on the hull.
According to the instructions, the soft plastic tracks shall be soldered with a hot screwdriver. This is a difficult and irreversable procedure which has often led to disappointment. Beginning modellers will find this part of the assembly process rather tricky, and there are no spare tracks included in the kit which might be used after a failed attempt. We glued the tracks of our Somua S-35 successfully using the new Pattex Blitz Plastic flüssig glue which is suitable for polyethylene and polypropylene plastics.
There is no tank commander included in the kit. The turret hatch cannot be modelled in the open position, and the turret armament does not elevate. The Matchbox Char B.1 tank offers better value for money, because it offers all these options.
The Somua turret turns, but there is no kit part to secure the turret inside the hull. The instructions recommed flattening the turret pin with a hot screwdriver to create a rivethead.
Heller’s Somua S-35 is an interesting model for collectors, diorama builders and wargamers. Several model kits will be required to explore the different camouflage patterns and the Panzerkampfwagen Somua S35 739(f) conversion of the Wehrmacht.