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Built Review
Somua S 35
Somua S 1935 Beutepanzer
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Somua 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 35
Designed 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 Kit
Artitec's resin S 35 is a simple resin kit consisting of decals and five parts:

APX1CE turret


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.

Low 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 Decals
Simple 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.

Only 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!

Of 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.
Highs: The kit features crisp casting with no flaws to mention. The level of detail is high.
Lows: Instruction sheet and box art show the running gear mounted backwards. An extremely basic decal selection of only a pair of Balkenkreuz.
Verdict: I was very interested when I discovered Artitec kits the Somua S 35. Their model did not disappoint me.
  Scale: 1:87
  Mfg. ID: 87.047
  Related Link: Somua vs Pzr III
  PUBLISHED: Jan 21, 2018

Our Thanks to Artitec!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


Now those doing railway-scale scenes can have some armour to go with it.
JAN 21, 2018 - 10:01 PM
Thanks for this interesting review Fred, both on the kit and on the real thing in wartime. If recent stories are to be taken at face value, we might also add to the mix that, unlike their German adversaries, the French troops were not high on MDMA... Anyway, a couple of questions, just out of curiosity really. Do you know is this Beutepanzer version different in any way from the French service version offered, other than the tiddly decal sheet? No special German tool clamps or lamps? Am I wrong in thinking that the shape of the front of the hull where the side becomes the front as it were, especially near the driver visor, is a bit square looking when compared with the real thing, where it is clearly seen to be a curve - or is that just that the painted highlight effect is accentuating it? It's just that one of the characteristics of these is their kind of jelly mould appearance with no sharp angles, but this doesn't seem to have that so clearly. Thanks, Matthew
JAN 25, 2018 - 06:55 PM
Hi Matthew, Very sorry for long silence. I do not have the French variant of the model but looking at the photos of it at Artitec, it looks like only one mold pattern was made. And looking at photos of Beutepanzer Somuas, somewhere along the line the Germans replaced that non-opening cupola with an opening commanders hatch; it appears that the Germans sliced the domed part off and bolted hatch-halves to it. Aside from that, I do not see any differences. A couple of photos show Beutepanzer S35s with a Novak lamp but most show no sign of modification aside from the commander hatch. It is difficult for me to tell. Photos I looked at show that edge as rounded but not as gradual as I think you are asking about. My photos of the assembled model, third from bottom, left column, it does look rather sharp. Look at this Aberdeen S35 and notice how the ambient light is reflecting off that junction: LINK Sorry I am not more helpful.
MAY 29, 2018 - 09:25 AM

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