R35 French Light Infantry Tank,
by Stephen Brezinski
Edited by Rob Haelterman
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
This model was a gift from a modeling friend.