by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
IntroductionSomua S 1935 Beutepanzer is a new 1/87 resin kit from Artitec. It is kit 87.047. A French kit is available, item 87.035; not only that but Artitec offers these models as kits or factory assembled.
Take note that when I first published this review, I had not noticed that the tracks were on backwards. I fixed that and shot new photos of the model. The correctly assembled model is the one posed on a diorama.
Artitec of the Netherlands was founded by modelers and their passion for the hobby is obvious.
Artitec produces a wide range of models of railroad, military, maritime and automotive subjects, and related accessories - over 260 in HO alone. They also make kits in 1/72, 1/120 (TT scale for model railroading), N ( 1/160) and Z (1/220). Predominately of Dutch, Belgian, French and German prototypes, these models consist of resin and some have photo-etched metal parts.
Somua S 35Designed from a 1931 requirement for a fast cavalry tank the Somua S 35 (SOMUA, for Société d'Outillage Mécanique et d'Usinage d'Artillerie) began arriving at French tank units in 1935. It was the main punch of the Division Légère Mécanique (DLM, or light mechanical division).
In 1940 the Somua S 35 was perhaps the best tank in the world based on armor and anti-tank capability. It boasted the first cast armor hull (four pieces, bolted together) in operational use. The upper hull was a single casting except for the engine compartment cover. The lower hull was a left and right piece. The turret was also cast. Indeed, France's cast homogeneous armor impressed America's tank designers and they imported some French tanks to study the casting of armor.)
The performance of tanks in the Battle of France is steeped in legend, myth, and misunderstanding. Hordes of heavy Wehrmacht panzers did not sweep aside dainty French tinkertoys. When Nazi Germany attacked in May 1940, French tanks alone outnumbered the Panzerwaffe by almost 2-to-1. French Renault, Hotchkiss, Somua, and Char B1 bis tanks had thicker armor than any panzer, and the panzers were frighteningly outgunned by the Somua and Char B1 bis. While German anti-tank guns had trouble penetrating Somua armor, the Somua’s 47mm SA 35 anti-tank gun could shoot through any panzer at typical combat ranges. Somuas were also mechanically reliable and could out-march most panzers by 100 km over roads. It was also capable of zero-radius turns thanks to differential steering.
But the Somua S 35 suffered the same faults as other French tanks: small crew; one-man turret (although the Somua turret was referred to as a "man-and-a-half" turret); insufficient communication gear; poor doctrine. Another flaw was that the commander did not have a cupola in the common tank sense and had to sit, exposed, outside the turret on the rear hatch for a full view of the environment.
Still the Somua S 35 was a good tank; after France capitulated Germany snapped up about 300 of them as Beutepanzers (captured tank) for occupation and second-echelon duties. And the Somua still had fight left for the Allies - in Tunisia in May 1943, French Somuas attacked the 21st Panzer Division near Cape Bon.
This braille-scale Cuirassier does the S 35 proud.
The KitArtitec's resin S 35 is a simple resin kit consisting of decals and five parts:
Running gear, left and right
47mm SA 35 gun barrel
Artitec resin casting is impressive. I found no air pocks or warping in the buff resin. Light flash skinned over the gaps between the road wheels, idler and sprocket, and under a fender. Casting is overall crisp. This model did not have a plug of excess resin to carve off the bottom of the hull. Only the tracks had to be removed from a pour block.
Artitec supplied an extra gun barrel with the kit.
DetailLow relief detail and shallow recessed items effectively define surface detail. You can not see much of the running gear because SOMUA equipped the tank with hinged panels and mud scrappers over the sprockets and bogies.
A headlamp with armored guard is cast onto the right fender front while a horn and other items are on the left fender. Bolts holding the hull castings together are reproduced. Clevises, hinges and other tank accoutrements are reproduced, as are the many episcopes, Estienne slits, and other vision ports.
Instructions and DecalsSimple kit, simple instructions. Partially flawed instructions; as you might have noticed in the comments, Artitec put the running gear on backwards on the boxart model. If you look at the instructions, the big drawing shows this mistake while the small drawing shows them on correctly. I totally missed that and went down the primrose path in a perfect example of "expectation bias."
They list Humbrol and Revell paint brands.
Only two Balkenkreuz decals are provided.
AssemblyOnly after viewing enlarged photos did I notice tiny bits of flash, easily cleaned off the model.
Assembly is very easy. Both the left and right track and running gear parts simply fit to the sides of the lower hull, aligned with small indents for the lower front hull. Pop the turret into the hull. Gun on the 47mm barrel. Paint and decal. Enjoy!
ConclusionOf all the WW2 French tanks, the Somua S 35 is my favorite. Thus I was very interested when I discovered Artitec kits them in the popular scale of HO-1/87. Their Somua S 1935 Beutepanzer model did not disappoint me.
The kit features crisp casting with no flaws to mention. The level of detail is high. My two gripes are the company's mistake with mounting the running gear and the extremely basic decal selection of only a pair of Balkenkreuz.
I can happily recommend this impressive model to modelers of 1/87 for their dioramas, wargaming tables, and layouts.
Please remember to mention to retailers and vendors that you saw this kit here - on Armorama.