lundi 14 septembre 2015

Somua S-35 - The building

AMC Somua S35 (TAMIYA Model)

Some historical background :

The Tank in WWI and Interwar France

The advent of the tank nearly 100 years ago as a potential solution to the gridlock of trench warfare, bestowed upon militaries a new weapon which is still used today. Among the very first “land Ship” were French-designed tanks such as the Schneider and Saint-Chamond, developed at the same time as British rhomboid counterparts. However, they were soon outstripped by the subsequent French Renault FT tank, with armed and fully rotating turret, a design so successful that it was exported to numerous other countries after WWI and essentially defined the standard tank layout still in use today. It could perhaps even be argued that the design was too successful, as the French army did not see the need to develop any serious alternative until the 1930s.

Between 1931 and 1932, French specifications were released which effective1y ended the monopoly on tanks as infantry support, calling for Automitrailleuse de Combat vehicles (lit. “armored combat vehicle” - AMC) that would be used in cavalry divisions. At the same time, they also demanded armored cars and tracked vehicles for reconaissance (AMD and AMR). ln June 1934, updated specifications called for AMCs, which were 13t in weight, with 40mm of armor, capable of 30 km/h and having a range of 200 km. They were to be crewed by three men and equipped with a 25mm or 47mm main gun.

Development of the SOMUA S35

Original AMC designs based upon lighter AMR vehicles proved largely ineffective. Against this backdrop, Schneider subsidiary SOMUA was tasked with the development of such an AMC, and in March 1936 their AC4 prototype with 47mm SA34 gun was selected for deployment within cavalry units. It was named the Char 1935 S, or SOMUA S35, referring to the year of the first prototype AC3. An initial order of fifty tanks was made, anticipated to rise to 600, but production eventually stopped at 434 (estimates vary) by the time of the French surrender in June 1940.

The SOMUA S35's hull was comprised by four bolt-joined sections, and like the turret made extensive use of cast metal. Its rounded armor, 40mm on the hull and 56mm at its thickest on the turret, made it a fearsome foe. Offensively, the APX 1 CE turret was fitted with a 47mm SA35 gun that could penetrate 35mm of armor at 400m, more than sufficient to knock out German tanks of the day. A coaxial machine gun with limited independent movement gave back-up fire. Suspension was provided by four leaf-spring bogies on each side, plus an independently-suspended rear most ninth wheel, all of which were protected by armored plates. It housed a crew of three - driver and radio operator in the front, and commander-gunner in the turret. The 190hp SOMUA 8-cylinder gasoline engine propelled the tank at up to 40.7km/h.

The SOMUA S35 in Action

French tanks were supplied to armored divisions and the light mechanized divisions which succeeded cavalry units; the SOMUA S35, a cavalry tank, was thus largely integrated into the latter. Dragoon and Cuirassier regiments were assigned 48 per unit. While the SOMUA S35 only saw action for a limited time before the fall of France, it proved its worth a number of times including with the 2nd and 3rd Light Mechanized Divisions in the Battle of Gembloux, Belgium from May 12 to 14, 1940; the 47mm gun repeatedly tore through opposing German tanks. SOMUA S35s of the 1st Light Mechanized Division clashed with the German 5th Panzer Division on May 17th before providing similarly staunch support for British Matildas in the Battle of Arras on May 21. On May 19 SOMUA S35s were also a part of the 3rd Cuirassier Regiment of De Gaulle's 4th Armored Division which attacked at Créchy.

ln fact, German forces also rated the SOMUA S35 highly as they continued to use 300 captured examples - without major modifications - following the fall of France, the tank even joining Operation Barbarossa as a part of the German 221st Panzer Battalion. They were also a constituent part of some Vichy French units in West Africa. Finally, some were still used as late as October 1944, when they were integrated into the 13th Dragoon Regiment after the liberation of France, a testament to the effectiveness of its design.

SOMUA S35 Specifications

·       Length: 5,380mm
·       Width: 2, 120mm
·       Height 2,624mm
·       Fully-Loaded Weight: 19.5 tons
·       Crew: 3
·       Engine: SOMUA v8 liquid cooled gasoline engine
·       Maximum Output: 190hp (at 2000 rpm)
·       Maximum Speed: 40.7km/h
·       Range: 230km (road surfaces)
·       Armament: 47mm SA35 anti-tank gun x1 (120 rounds), 7.5mm Reibel machine gun x1
·      Hull Armor: 40mm (front, sides), 15mm (upper & lower horizontal plates)

The model : Tamiya (kit 35344) and Photoetched Eduard 35313

The main omission of Tamiya is the lack of casting marks so I added some fondry marks from Archer decals

The lower hull was prepaint with light olive during the building because most of the parts would be difficult to paint after gluing.

All the fasteners of storage boxes are Eduard parts

The APX 1 turred was textured with Surfacer 500 and a caracteristic bead was build between the upper and lower parts of the turret. 12 bold heads were added to the ring of the turret cupola. 3 conical bolds were also glued right to the driver's observation port.

The turret hatch and the tracks will be attached after painting

Some bolds were forgotten by Tamiya. It were made with platicard and Punch and Die set.

The building was very funny and now I can begin the painting stage. I've chosed a multicolored sheme but it will be for another story !