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The Hotchkiss H35 was a French light tank used during the Second World War. It had a two-man crew and was armed with a 37 mm gun. The design was developed into the similar H38 and H39 series, and the Germans utilized captured examples in several modified forms. This is the 2009 issue of the RPM kit. I had no previous experience with RPM kits but thought the subject would make a nice addition to my small collection of French armor.
The parts are well molded with no flash. The sprues contain additional parts to allow for variations in engine deck configurations and armament need to produce some of the subsequent variants. I am no expert on French armor so I cannot advise if everything you’d need for the H38 or H39 is present in this boxing but there will definitely be parts for the spares box when you’re done.
I found the instructions a bit confusing, and had to stop several times during construction to try to figure out just what they were trying to show. There is a parts map but the sprues do not have parts numbers which just adds to the confusion. Arrows would be helpful, but RPM only superimposes numbers on or near parts which are shown floating near where they are supposed to be attached. It can all be sorted with enough time, but it could be made much easier than it is.
Tracks are molded as single pieces, built up by adding the running gear assemblies. This is much easier to build than other methods, but imposes an inherent inaccuracy in how the guide teeth must be molded. It’s a trade-off, this is not a bad choice if the guide teeth limitation is not too obvious on the finished model.
The model has a lot of interior components, a good start for those who wish to super-detail the inside. The hatches are molded separately so some of this could be seen if you wanted to display it that way. No crew figures though, and the aftermarket is of little help here. I decided to close the hatches on mine and leave the interior parts for the spares box.
Here’s everything all built up. I replaced the gun barrel with brass tube, and had to replace the padeye on the port side with stock as my part went pinging off into the ether. The turret and tracks are posed together here for the picture, I left them separate for easier painting.
Basic camo is applied in this picture. The tracks press fit tightly without glue but are mush easier to paint when off. The turret just sits in the opening and is not mechanically secured in any way. I attached mine with LiquiTape, with provides a solid bond but still allows for some deflection if I want to traverse the turret.
The kit decals were applied using MicroScale products over a gloss coat. The decals are printed on a continuous sheet of carrier film. I would advise cutting back the film as much as possible as the film does not settle well, as can be seen in the picture. I trimmed mine back and got them to settle down but they resisted.
The black border between the camouflage colors was applied with a drafting pen and then re-sealed with more GlossCoat before weathering. The tracks have been coated with brown Tamiya panel line wash and dry brushed with silver.
Here is the model after weathering. The mud is weathering powder over brown artists oils. The tank was sealed with a layer of DullCoat mixed with a bit of light tan paint to simulate dust. An unusual subject and a nice little kit, but the instructions could have been a lot clearer.