Heller 1/35 PzKpfw 35H
|PRICE:||$20-30.00 range from second hand stockists|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Hotchkiss H35 or Char léger modèle 1935 H was a French cavalry tank developed prior to World War II. Despite having been designed from 1933 as a rather slow but well-armoured light infantry support tank, the type was initially rejected by the French Infantry because it proved difficult to steer while driving cross-country, and was instead adopted in 1936 by the French Cavalry.
From 1938 an improved version was produced with a stronger engine, the Char léger modèle 1935 H modifié 39, which from 1940 was also fitted with a longer, more powerful 37 mm gun. It was intended to make this improved variant the standard light tank, with at least four thousand produced to equip new armoured divisions of both the Cavalry and the Infantry, but due to the defeat of France in June 1940 total production of both subtypes was limited to about 1200 vehicles.
For the remainder of the war Germany and its allies used captured Hotchkiss tanks in several modifications.
Heller is not a name that most armor modelers think of when it comes to doing tank kits. Indeed, much of what is in their catalogue is not new. This particular kit comes with two large and two smaller sprues of greyish plastic. Detailing is fairly good, though not as crisp as what you'd expect in a modern kit. There are quite a few ejector pin marks on the inside of wheels and such which will be impossible to remove without a lot of effort. However, they appear to be hidden once the kit is built. There is also a sprue of silvery grey vinyl that holds the tracks and a tow cable. Also included is a section of copper chain.
Unlike many armor kits, this one starts you off by building up suspension bits, exhaust and the gun to name a few items. Then it goes on to the turret, idler and various other external, multi-piece appendages. Only then is the rest of the hull built up. No one-piece lower hull on this one as there are a fairly large number of pieces that need to come together to make this assembly. Even then there is still more in the way of covers and hatches to install. There is no engine or interior so everything is designed to be closed.
Once that is done, then all the various pioneer tools and tow hooks are glued in place. The last items are the turret and the tracks. These are the 'rubber band' type where one heats the small tabs to keep them together. I have to assume there is enough stretch in them to put them over the wheels and gears.
Instructions are well drawn and all color information is Humbrol numbers. Since Humbrol has changed their numbering system several time, one is always concerned that Heller has the most recent. Several colors need to be mixed. Note that most of us who have built armor will know what is what color. Since this is a beutepanzer, it will be overall panzer grey. One set of markings is provided and those are basically insignia and vehicle number.
This one doesn't look to be too difficult a build. Of course those are often famous last words, but still, it is a light tank and not terribly encumbered with stuff. The kit builds into an unmodified tank so no German style replacement cupola. In fact, if you had decals and drawings for a standard French tank, you could do one of those.
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