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French Somua S35 Medium Tank 1:35


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French Somua S35 Medium Tank
1:35 Tamiya


Designed and built in the 1930s, the Somua was considered by many to be the best medium tank of the time, and was even technically superior to the German Panzer IIIs is came up against during the Battle of France. It was well armoured, and its fully cast body with impervious to most tank munitions of the time, but the casting process was complex and expensive in France at the time, so resulted in an expensive and difficult to maintain tank. Its use was of limited effect during the battle due to strategic and tactical errors on the part of French command, which resulted in many tanks being lost to mechanical breakdowns during sustained dashes to intercept the next German thrust into Allied territory.

After the fall of France it saw use under Vichy flags in Africa before switching sides to fight the Italians as Allies, but many were also pressed into service with the Germans, who added cupola doors to allow the tank commander access to the outside world, which assisted in situational awareness, communication with troops, as well as escape in the event of the tank being hit. Immediately post war a few S35s saw limited service with the reborn French military before they were relegated to museum pieces.

The Kit
A totally new tooling from Tamiya, this tank will sit nicely next to the Char B1 Bis (also from Tamiya), as well as some of the other new French tanks that have recently been forthcoming from various companies in this golden age of AFV modelling. Inside the standard glossy top-opening box that Tamiya have used for years, you will find five sprues of parts in a sand coloured styrene, a clear sprue, a bag of track links, another bag containing a length of metal chain and some poly-caps, decals, a multi-language background information booklet that also contains the colour painting and decaling diagrams, plus the instruction booklet that is printed separately.






The first item to note is the amount of very nicely done cast texture on the main parts. It has been crafted to avoid looking too regular, and it's very nice to see that Tamiya have expended the energy to get it done. It is a typical Tamiya product that is simple in parts, whilst managing to be cleverly constructed, using limited slide-moulding where necessary to improve things like the gun muzzle. The inclusion of individual track links that simply click together is a boon, and should appeal to even the most ardent lover of the rubber-band track option, because it couldn't be simpler! Overall quality is excellent, and the attention to detail shows in touches like the sprue gates on the parts with casting texture. These have been moulded into the mating surfaces to ease removal and avoid damaging the texture and creating work for the modeller.


Construction begins with the lower hull sides, which are separate inserts that cover blank areas of the hull sides, allowing the deep detail to be moulded more simply than if they were integral. Final drive assemblies are added at the rear, and they are installed into their slots along with the rounded derriere of the vehicle, which completes the tub onto which the road wheels and their bogies are added. Road wheels are hung in pairs of pairs with no overlap, which requires the modeller to built up four sets of four wheels on a bogie that has a long leaf-spring suspension unit on the top side, with the paired wheels pivoting at the centre underneath. An additional solo wheel is installed just in front of the drive sprocket, which slips over the axle using the supplied poly-caps. Care with the glue should leave you with a fully workable set of road wheels. The large idler wheels sit at the front in between tensioning rods, with the lower side skirt added to protect the road wheels from enemy fire. The mud-shedding curved sections fit over these and protect the suspension units into the bargain. A pair of large poly-caps are added to the sponson floors at the rear and are covered by a styrene cylinder, which is the mechanism by which the upper and lower hull clip together later in the build. Small return rollers/skids fit to the top of the skirts, and details such as number plate, towing eyes and road lights are added to the front and rear.


The tracks are individual links, as previously noted, and clip together with firm pressure to form a workable track run with no glue. Each side uses 105 links, which means you won't be able to model the first 50 tanks off the production line, as they used more narrower links than later models. Now for the down-sides… of which there had to be at least one. The links are a little fiddly with my sausage-fingers in the mix, but they do have tiny separation marks on the contact ridge that varies between almost invisible, and a tiny hole in the piece that would respond well to a squirt of Vallejo putty, made flat by rubbing off the excess with your finger. There are also two tiny (and I mean tiny) raised ejector pin marks, one at each of the inside edges of the track links. You can take one of two attitudes to this. Shrug and add a little dirt to the tracks, or scrape them away gently with a #11 blade, which takes a matter of seconds for each one, as I found out when I had a go. The latter shouldn't slow you down by much, and that's the (admittedly tedious) route I'll be going down.

Next comes the detailing of the upper hull, which is a single part to which various hatches and panels are added, along with two large louvered engine panels on the engine deck that slope in both directions from the horizontal. The upper hull is now mated with the lower hull by inserting the tongue at the front under the corresponding lip in the front of the lower hull. The hull is then levelled, and pushed home into the poly-caps that were installed earlier. I'm not entirely sure why you would leave the halves able to come apart, but that's the way Tamiya designed it, and it's not a problem. Grab-handles, stowage boxes and pioneer tools are added around the upper surfaces, and the prominent exhausts and their shrouds fix to the space between the two engine panels. A three-part tarpaulin roll has been cleverly designed to give an organic look and undercut ends for realism, and this is added to the rear slope of the engine deck along with a rather convoluted towing hook. To the hook is added the towing chain, which is made up from the metal chain supplied, and plastic hooks/loops. You will need to cut the chain into two 60mm lengths, so ensure you have the correct pliers/nips handy to do the job before you start. An Antenna base is added at the rear (although many S35s didn't have the required radios initially), and work can then start on the turret.

The turret is an enlarged version of the one found on the Char 1Bis, and suffers the same lack of cupola doors found there. The cupola is split fore/aft and has vision port doors added, before being placed on the top of the turret using a bayonet retaining ring. The main turret is split horizontally around the bottom, and has the vision ports inserted from inside before it is closed up for good. The main gun is inserted into a simple cylindrical mount with a poly-cap allowing it to be posed at any angle, but with no breech detail within. The muzzle is hollow, and all you have to do is remove the moulding seam to make good. It is held in place by the mantlet, which glues to the front of the turret, and is then covered by the armoured cover for both the main gun and stub of the coaxial machine gun that sits by its side. An access door is mounted on one of the rear facets of the turret, which the commander often sat on, half out of the turret, in order to gain better situational awareness that was denied to him with no cupola exit. These doors were added in German service, and made a much smaller target of him as a result, exposing his head rather than most of his body outside the tank.

There is a crew figure included in the box, in the same pose as the chap on the box art, and he is made up from eight parts, including helmet and sidearm. He is well-sculpted, and his backside is shaped to fit the aperture, so should gel well with the model.

Traditionally, Tamiya's decals have been a bit of a weak-point of an otherwise solid package, but lately the thick leathery carrier film has been left behind for a more modern thin one, and the whites have become more true to my understanding of white. The sheet is well printed with good register, colour density and sharpness, with the aforementioned thin carrier film, and from it you can build one of three machines, as follows:

  • No.56, 18th dragoon Regiment – sky/green/brown horizontal camouflage, blue heart on the hull, and white 56 with French roundel on the turret.
  • No.42 13th Dragoon Regiment - sky/green/brown horizontal camouflage on hull, patches of the same colours on the turret. White 42 and French roundels on the turret, plus red diamond.
  • No.20, 4th Cuirassier Regiment - sky/green/brown horizontal camouflage with light blue cupola. White 20 and French roundel on the turret. Red/white chevalier shield motif on the hull.



Another good model from Tamiya, or a slightly unusual subject, but one that fits nicely with the current vogue of tanks from WWI and interwar periods. Construction should be straight forward and a good replica of this quirky tank should be achievable out of the box with relative ease. Inclusion of a figure, real chain and the individual link tracks are just a bonus.

Well done Tamiya – quality over quantity seems to be their motto when it comes to new subjects.

Highly recommended.


Review sample courtesy of

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This vehicle was pressed into service by the German in the anti partisan role so you could get away with French colour schemes with German markings .

I know what route Ill be taking



A few more models Mike with Indy track links and youll get used to them buddy

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A few more models Mike with Indy track links and youll get used to them buddy

Seeing as Dave has decided to get sarky, I'll just tell everyone that when I talk about those that are phobic about individual link tracks...well... I'm thinking of this gentleman, who actually asked someone else (another Dave) to do the click-fit links of his Samua for him, cos he's that scared of non-rubberband tracks! :tease::rofl::tease:

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