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38(H) Kit

Trumpeter 1/35 French 38(h) Tank Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review June 2005 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject French 38(h) Tank Scale 1/35
Kit Number 0351 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build Cons Basic markings provided
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $24.95

First Look

38(H) Kit
38(H) Kit
38(H) Kit
38(H) Kit
38(H) Kit

The French Hotchkiss company began as an armaments firm and built up a sound reputation for machine-guns and quick-firing guns. In the early years of this century it began manufacturing motor cars and trucks which achieved considerable success (Hotchkiss cars won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1933, 1934 & 1939). They built a number of trucks for the French army and the in the late 1930’s began developing armored vehicles, and by 1934, when the French army requested a light tank, Hotchkiss was able to put forward a suitable model for consideration.

This was a 12-ton vehicle, with cast armor and turret, mounting a 37mm (1.46in) gun. It was a sound design, but the infantry refused it. It was then adopted by the cavalry as Model 35H (the 35 indicating the year first produced). It was shortly before WWII that the infantry relented and took several of the vehicles.

Between 1938-39 the design was improved (thus the 38 designation) This amounted to a more powerful engine and a longer-barreled 37mm (1.46in) gun. About 1000 of these tanks were made in all. They were used in the 1940 campaign against the German invasion. During the war, the French army used them in considerable numbers, either as-built form or as the basis for self-propelled guns (subjects of other Trumpeter kits, reviewed on this site). After the end of the war the Israeli army employed some of them into the early 1950’s.

The kit comes a in large, sturdy tray and lid type box. The box is quite blousy for what’s inside. It has a large compartment that holds 3 light tan trees of parts and a small end compartment that holds the hull bottom tub, the black vinyl rubber-band type tracks and the small decal sheet (that is stapled to it’s wall). Actually, all of this could have been packaged into the larger compartment and the box could have been much smaller.

This is the 5 th kit using the Hotchkiss 35/38(h) hull. Actually, by it’s kit number, it was the first release. The other 4 kits are versions that the Germans created with captured vehicles. These other 4 kits are reviewed elsewhere on this site.

All 5 of the kits share the same letter A parts tree. This holds: bogies, return rollers, drive sprockets, idler wheels, final transfer covers, interior parts, a German MG34 machine gun (not needed for this kit). (87 parts). Six of these parts are excess/spares and not needed to complete the kit.

Letter B tree is common to one of the other Hotchkiss kits. That is the one that mounts the rockets, in crates, on it’s sides. This tree holds: the turret parts, tools, upper hull body, engine deck grills, grab handles, lift hooks, fenders, jack, muffler etc. (48 parts)

Letter C tree is unique to this kit. It holds: unditching skid parts (that mount on the rear of the tank), turret dome, upper nose plate and it’s hatch, main gun and it’s breech assembly parts, turret vision ports etc. (32 parts).

The final items in the kit are the one piece hull bottom tub piece (common to all 5 Hotchkiss kits by Trumpeter), the black vinyl tracks (again common to all the kits) and the small decal sheet. The vinyl tracks are of the old type, where you have to use a hot screwdriver to melt the pins and complete the loops.

The decal sheet gives markings for two vehicles. Unfortunately, we are not told what outfits these would be in French service. One has the turret number of Roman numeral II and the second one has the turret number 12. The one with 12 also has a shield with a man on horseback on it. There are also 2 sizes of French roundels on the sheet. Only the scheme with the number 12 shows one of the smaller roundels used on the rear of the turret. I think that Trumpeter could have done a better job of telling us what units these depict. Colors are called out in Gunze Sangyo paint numbers of dark yellow and red brown wave patterns.

The instructions are a 10 page stapled book.

Page one begins with a black and white side profile of the Hotchkiss 35/38(h). This is followed by READ BEFORE ASSEMBLY instructions, international assembly symbol explanations and decal application instructions in Chinese and English.

Page two is the parts tree drawings.

Pages 3 through 9 give us a total of 17 assembly steps.

Page 10 is the two color schemes (mentioned above).

This kit is very well molded, with no evident flash anywhere. It has quite a bit of detail in the fighting compartment, but could stand more from those of us that are afflicted with AMS (advanced modeler syndrome) and feel we should add more.

I highly recommend this kit. It will be a nice companion to the other 4 releases of the Hotchkiss chassis that Trumpeter markets. Now…if only somebody would do a French Char B.