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39(H) Kit

Trumpeter 1/35 German Captured Hotchkiss 39(H) Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review March 2005 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject German Captured Hotchkiss 39(H) Scale 1/35
Kit Number 0352 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nicely detailed fighting compartment and exterior. Cons Basic markings provided
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $24.95

First Look

39(H) Kit
39(H) Kit
39(H) Kit
39(H) Kit
39(H) Kit

After the fall of France, Germany acquired many different French amour vehicles. They sometimes just repainted these with German markings and also converted the various chassis into weapons carriers mounting all sorts of their weapons. Turrets, alone, were also removed from some French tanks and mounted atop pill boxes on the French coast.

The subject of this new Trumpeter kit is a captured French Hotchkiss H-39 tank. It has had the turret modified with a new roof hatch and is mounted with 4 320 mm gasoline jelly napalm rockets. These rockets were installed onto the vehicles that carried them still in the wood shipping containers that they came in. Sometimes they were in metal frames too. A 28 cm rocket, loaded with TNT, could also be fired. This same set up can be seen on the German Sd.Kfz. 251 in wartime photos also. These wood crates were attached to the adjustable base plates on the vehicle. Direction was provided by pointing the whole vehicle, which had sighting vanes mounted. The range could be adjusted by changing the angle of the frames on the base plates. The maximum range was 2,300 m. The rockets were fired electrically from inside the vehicle.

The Hotchkiss H-39 first appeared in 1939. It was intended for use by French cavalry formations. Despite production problems (common to all French tanks in the period before WWII) about 1000 were built. The tank gave a good account of itself in combat during the German invasion of France in 1940, but had too little firepower to compete with the German armor. In addition, French tactics at the time envisaged tanks being used as infantry support rather than in mass formations, diminishing its effectiveness.

After the surrender, the Germans employed the H-39 for occupation duties. Some saw action with the Free French and the Vichy French forces in the Middle East . Some were even used post-war by the Israelis, remaining in service until 1956.

The kit comes in a very sturdy tray and lid type box. The box art shows a painting of the Hotchkiss in German markings with the rockets installed. This is superimposed over what looks like an actual wartime photo of a battlefield. Side panels of the box have 2 full color side profiles of 2 color and marking schemes. However, I think these are showing markings that would only be used by the French, not the Germans. One has a red heart on the turret. I know that the French denoted different tank groups with symbols from a deck of cards: hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds. The other scheme has very large numerals that say 61 on the turret again this does not seem to ring true with me as being a normal German way of marking their stuff. If someone knows anything more contact me.

There is also a very short history of the vehicle given on the side panel of the box, in Chinese and English. However, this history given here is way too brief.

The bottom tray of the box is divided into 2 compartments. The larger compartment holds 3 trees of light tan parts. The small end compartment holds the hull bottom hull piece, the black vinyl rubber-band type treads and the small decal sheet…which is stapled to the wall of this compartment in it’s cello bag. The face of the decal sheet is protected with a opaque sheet of paper.

The instructions consist of a 12 page booklet with a stapled spine.

Page one of the instructions begins with a black and white profile drawing of the Hotchkiss with the large white turret numeral 61. This is followed by “Read before assembly” instructions, international assembly symbol translations and decal application instructions all in Chinese and English languages.

Page 2 is the parts tree illustrations.

Pages 3 through 11 give us a total of 25 assembly steps.

Page 12 has a 4 view drawing of the color and marking scheme for the one with 61 on the turret and one side profile of the one with the red heart on the turret. However, nowhere does it say what outfits these tanks were with. I am going to mark mine using the box art as I think that is the most accurate scheme for one in captured German service.

Large parts tree, letter A holds: interior parts, bogie parts, a German MG-34 machine gun and it’s mount and ground tripod, road wheels, return rollers, idler wheels, drive sprockets and their gear housings etc.

Medium sized letter B tree holds: the hull top, turret parts, rear engine deck panel, tools, fenders, hatches etc.

Large letter D tree holds: the 320 mm napalm rockets, their wood crates and mounting plates and the main 37 mm gun etc.

The small decal sheet and the black vinyl rubber band type treads complete the kits contents. These treads are the kind you have to hot rivet together with a heated screwdriver and not the glueable type.

This vehicle looks like it will make up into a real salty…all business looking weapon. I would hate to be on the receiving end of those rockets…as I am sure a lot of Germany’s enemies were too.

There are ejector pin marks evident on a some parts that will need to be sanded down or filled with putty. Also, there is a raised logo and numbers on the floor of the fighting compartment that has to be removed too. However, there is no flash evident on any parts and details are very nice.

I recommend this kit to all armor modelers with very few reservations already stated above.