R35 French Light Infantry Tank,
Early and Late Version

Kit #:
PS72180 (Early)
PS72181 (Late)
Preview by Stephen Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcastl(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

This kit preview covers the French R35 light infantry tank used by the French Army during the 1940's campaign and later in Syria and North Africa, by Poland during the German and soviet invasion of 1939, and by Yugoslavia in 1941, and by Italy in Sicily in 1943. The tank was decently armored for 1940, slow so the infantry could keep up with it, and the cast armor hull and turret was advanced and unique for the time period. Early variants were armed with a short 37-mm SA18 gun alongside the coaxial machine gun; a late variant was up-gunned with a longer 37-mm SA38 gun with better armor piercing capability.

My references state that with a one-person turret the commander was overloaded and inefficient with being responsible for loading the gun, aiming and firing the guns, commanding the driver and perhaps commanding other tanks in his platoon. The vehicle ergonomics and visibility are reported to have been lousy.

The above scan shows the kit 72180 artwork on the box with a list of recommended paint colors. This painting and information is repeated on the rear of the box. The modeler will have to do research as to placement of the markings. In this profile we see the short gun and binocular episcope view ports, the five roadwheels with spring scissors suspension and sprocket wheel in front. Atop the turret is the rotating commander's cupola with a vision port but no hatch on top. Lack of a radio was common for French tanks of this size and period.

This turret and armaments can also be found on the Hotchkiss H35 and H39 2-person tanks of the same time period. This turret was also used on German fortifications like the Atlantic Wall. There is a photo of one of these turrets mounted on an Sd.Kfz 251 halftrack.

This scan shows the S-Model box art kit 72181, late variant of the R35 with the longer 37-mm gun, and no visible markings. The turret has the horizontal view slits.

Kit Parts
In the S-Model R35 kits I counted 25 injection molded hard styrene plastic parts and 9 etched brass parts. There are two model kits in a box so we have 50 plastic parts in the box. Some parts, such as one of two gun barrels, are unused. The quality of the parts is consistent with other S-Model small-scale kits I have.

The above scan shows the olive green S-Model turret parts which we can compare with the silver plastic RPM kit turret parts. At left we see the choice of three turret cupolas with the S-Models R35: the standard dome cupola (part A7) and two cupolas with closed and open hatches (parts A8 and A9) developed for R35s captured and used by the Germans. Rather than the more common roof top cupola hatch for the turret, this and other French tanks of the 1930's have a large hatch on the turret rear that folds down to make a seat for the commander/gunner. Both the RPM and the S-Model turret allow us to model the rear commander's turret hatch open.

Both kits include the SA18 gun (part A3) for the early version and SA 38 gun (part A4) for the late R35. The S-Model guns are slide molded with open muzzles. We will have to drill out the muzzles for the RPM gun. Both S-Model and RPM guns feature gun breaches and recoil guards so we have something to see inside the turret with the rear turret hatch open. I find that S-Models has better molded guns, beside the fact that the SA38 gun from RPM (part 65) is too short.

Both RPM and S-Models kits offer separate turret viewports (RPM Parts 54 or 68 and S-Model parts A26, A27 and A28) depending on portraying the late or the early version R35, but the RPM model supplied both viewports with each kit. In the S-Model kit the alternate view ports are snipped off the sprue. Some RPM parts, such as the plastic tow rings (parts 35), I prefer over the etched brass tow rings (parts PE6) in the S-Model kit.

No unditching tail is included with either of the S-Model R35 kits though is included with some RPM R35 tank kits. These turret parts are the same as in the H35, H38 and H39 tank models kits from both manufacturers.

The above scan shows the S-Models major hull parts with a silver plastic upper hull from RPM at far right. The S-Model kit appears to have finer detail. RPM has an option of molding the driver's hatches open while S-Models hatches are molded shut. RPM also offers some nice interior parts so there is something to see with the driver and engine hatches open.

Here is a comparison of the one-piece suspension and track systems; well, the RPM is partly a one-piece. The olive green S-Model set (parts A24 and A25) is complete, just glue onto the slide molded lower hull. Detail is pretty good with reasonable track and wheel detail, no significant flash nor sink holes. Alas, the track guide teeth that go on each side of the wheels are too short. The S-Model sprocket has sharper detail and molding, such as with the distinct bolt detail around the rum. Both kits offer the idler wheel with six holes and I think that the S-Model kit best matches those in photos of the actual R35 tank. A common variant of the R35 idler wheel has no holes.

The silver plastic RPM suspension (parts 17 and 18) needs clipping off the short sprue pieces connecting the return rollers to the roadwheels below. The RPM parts still need the inner and outer parts for the spring suspension (parts 46, 47, 48 and 49). The RPM track is quite the disappointment in being totally flat on the outer surface, no link detail, and the guide teeth just short nubs like the S-Models track guide teeth. The RPM sprocket wheel has a little softer detail. I notice some flash in the holes around the idler wheel.

Kit Instructions

The S-Model assembly instructions are the common exploded view type and appear complete and understandable. These instructions are characteristic of the other S-Model kit instructions I have.

The above page from the instructions show the painting guide referencing the colors on the front page of the instructions. The water slide decals appear in register and provide quite a variety for modeling a platoon of R35's. The etched brass fret looks well done and supplies enough parts for the two kits in the box. This decal sheet and etched brass fret are the same for both R35 early and R35 late kits 72180 and 72181.



Overall I give this kit a good thumbs up for a wargaming or display model. I cannot comment on the fit of the parts yet but based on previous experience it should assemble well.
With a change in paint colors and markings we can also model the R35 in Polish, Romanian, Italian, Yugoslavian and German service.



  • Panzer Tracts No. 19-1 Beute-Panzerkampfwagen. Thomas Jentz and Werner Regenburg (2007)
  • Trackstory No. 4, Renault R35 Renault R40, by Pascal Danjou (2005). ISBN 2-9520988-3-2
  • Captured French Tanks Under The German Flag, by Werner Regenberg & Horst Scheibert, Schiffer Military History.
  • French Tanks of world War II (1), Infantry and Battle Tanks, by Steven Zaloga (2014). Osprey Publishing Ltd.
  • https://henk.fox3000.com/sModel.htm


This model was a gift from a modeling friend.


S-Model products are available at Tracks & Troops

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Article Last Updated:
17 February 2020