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Hotchkiss Kit

Bronco Models 1/35 Hotchkiss H38/39 Light Tank Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2008 Manufacturer Bronco Models
Subject Hotchkiss H38/39 Light Tank Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35019 Primary Media Styrene/PE
Pros Nicely detailed kit Cons
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $54.98

First Look


During the early 1930s, the Hotchkiss company developed a design for a light tank as an alternative to the less-than-successful Char D1. Competing with the Renault R35, the Hotchkiss H35 was completed and entered production. The design was underpowered and difficult to control, so rather than cancel the type, many of these tanks were given to the cavalry instead.

Improvements were made to the tank with better suspension and more horsepower leading to a better performing combat vehicle, though performance was hindered by a bad gearbox.

The interesting bit about this series of tanks is that the H35 became the H38 at some point in time and the H39 was loosely associated with the up-engined version, though the records are vague. Even after the Germans captured the inventory and these tanks were used for occupation duty or rebuilt into specialty vehicles, the designations H38 and H39 were still loosely assigned.

Bronco Models has released a new-tool Hotchkiss H38/H39 light tank kit in 1/35 scale. The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, one separate lower hull also in gray styrene, two trees of black-molded track links, and one fret of photo-etched brass.

I can't emphasize how small this kit is - a two-man tank in 1/35 scale. Nevertheless, there are four parts trees required to build this model, plus the hull and track links. Why? This is another Bronco Models masterpiece, that's why.

Construction starts with the engine and drive train. These are installed into the lower hull along with the driver's seat and operator controls. A firewall is installed to separate the engine and driver's compartments.

Next on the list are the road wheels and suspension, drive sprockets, and return rollers. Onto these go the track links which almost comples the lower hull. The vehicle's fenders are added to the lower hull and the upper hull is installed next.

Details are added to the exterior of the upper hull including the engine deck hatches (which should be left removable to reveal the engine compartment), pioneering tools, and light fixtures. The engine muffler and driver's hatches complete the hull.

On to the turret, with your choice of main guns for the H38 or H39, both of which are nicely detailed. Your weapon choice is installed into the one-man turret. Parts are included for the French dome cupola or the split-hatch German cupola fitted to captured machines for Wehrmacht service.

An optional rear rack with skid plate and spare wheel mount is also provided in the kit for Hotchkiss tanks in French service.

Markings are provided for the following examples:

  • H38, France, May 1940
  • H39, German, Unit Unknown
  • H38, 2e Cuirassiers, France, May 1940
  • H38, 1er Cuirassiers, France, April 1940
  • H39, 1re ou 2e DLM ne des BCC, France, 1940
  • H39, German Army, Norway, 1941

Bronco Models continues to turn out some impressive models and this one is no exception. These kits are definitely an AMS modeler's delight.

This kit is highly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!