Heller 1/35 Somua S35 Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||February 2007||Manufacturer||Heller|
|Kit Number||81134||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Neat subject||Cons||Vinyl treads vs individual links. No interior detail. Limited marking options|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$22.98|
Considered as the best French tank in 1939, the Somua S-35 was in many ways superior to all foreign tanks in the same category, including German tanks. The 47mm S.A. M35 gun on the tank was itself the best anti-tank gun in existence at the time. Operated by a team of 3: the tank commander, pilot and gunner, the Somua S-35 could cross a ford of 1 meter deep and could climb slopes of almost 70%.
Four hundred Somua S-35’s were built and in 1940 were used by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions Legeres Mecanique (D.L.M.), and the 4th Division Cuirassee de Reserve, commanded by Colonel DeGaulle, within the 4th D.L.M.
The S-35’s took the full brunt of the Spring Offensive in 1940 and were almost all destroyed or captured by German forces. In fact, the 1st D.L.M. became part of the German 7th Army, and was deployed in North Belgium and the Netherlands. As for the 1st Army, which included the 2nd and 3rd D.L.M., it was deployed in central Belgium.
Finally, the 4th Division Cuirassee de Reserve of General DeGaulle confronted from 16th to 20th May, 1940, the 1st Panzer Division of General Guderian at Montcomet, in Picardy.
After some modifications in 1943, the Germans used the captured tanks on the Eastern Front. In German service they were called Pz.Kpfw.35.9.739(F). They were also used for training and hunting down partisans.
The kit comes in a tray and lid type box, with very sturdily built tray. The box art shows a Somua in German markings, crossing a grassy field and accompanied by 2 German foot soldiers.
Inside the box are 5 tan parts trees, 1 clear part tree, the decal sheet (all these in a single cello bag), vynil rubber-band type treads, the instructions, customer service coupons (to mail in to Heller for any missing parts) and a large sheet showing the box arts of no less than 271 other kits that Heller markets. These are in full color and are the size of postage stamps. Also, on this sheet is a coupon to order Heller’s 50 page catalog.
The instructions consist of a 11 ½” x 8 ¼” stapled booklet of 12 pages. Page 1 has the history of the Somua in eight languages, including English. Pages 2 through 9 give a total of 21 assembly steps. Pages 10 and 11 have two 5-view drawings of the painting and marking options provided in the kit:
- A Somua in captured German markings, as it appeared in 1943, with the turret number 601 in white outline type
- A Somua in French markings of: The Char de Cavalerie, white turret number 93, license plate number 67252, 4 eme Section, 1 er Battalion, 18 eme Dragons, 1 ere Brigade Legere Mecanique, 1 ere Division Legere Mecanique, Beligique Mai 1940. It sports a white club (like on playing cards) with a blue circle in the center and a white Pegasus (flying horse) in the center
Below these illustrations are other illustrations of how to apply the decals.
Page 12 of the instructions begins with general instructions in 12 languages, including English, followed by international assembly symbol translations.
Strangely, the parts trees are called out numerically instead of alphabetically, like we usually see in kits.
Tree number one holds: the hull top, turret parts, main gun, machine-gun, side plates, nose plate etc. (21 parts).
Tree number two holds: the bull bottom and side plates, machine-gun mantle, fuel tanks, various hatches, side armor etc. (32 parts).
Tree number threeholds: drive sprockets, road wheels, return rollers, a shovel, suspension parts, a rolled tarp, horn, tow hook , exhaust pipes etc. (64 parts)
Tree number four holds: road wheel bogies, idler wheels, tow rings, more suspension parts etc. (79 parts).
Tree number five is the vinyl rubber-band type treads, molded in bright silver (two parts).
Tree number six is the clear parts. There are 3 lenses on this tree.
Tree number seven holds two seated crew figures. One figure is to sit inside the tank on a raised peg. However, there is no further detail in there. The second figure is to be posed sitting on the door at the rear of the turret. Each figure is divided into front and rear torso halves, separate legs and arms, heads, two pistols in holsters, two steel French tanker helmets and one cloth bag. (19 parts).
This is one salty-looking French tank. I wish more marking options had been in the kit, but what is there is nice. The engine air intakes are nicely molded open on the rear deck and overall detail is very good.