Building Trumpeter Hotchkiss H39  #351 - 1/35 scale

by Patricio Delfosse  © 2008 Modeler Site

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The Hotchkiss H39 first appeared in 1939 and was considered one of the better of the French tanks in 1940. It was intended for use by French cavalry formations. Despite production problems (common to all French tanks in the period before WWII) about 1000 were built. The tank gave a good account of itself in combat during the German invasion of France in 1940, but had too little firepower to compete with the German armor. In addition, French tactics at the time envisaged tanks being used as infantry support rather than in mass formations, diminishing its effectiveness.

There are three kits available in the market to build a Hotchkiss H35/39 in 1/35 scale. Here I used a Trumpeter’s. A second option would have been to use the old H35 Heller kit, coming from the 70s which is today still a good base of work (even a box including the kit of the 25mm Hotchkiss gun). The third option could be the H39 kit from Bronco.


As we’ll see, in spite of being more modern than the Heller’s kit, the Hotchkiss from Trumpeter, doesn’t have the features we expect from a XXI century kit. Summing up: bad fit, historical mistakes, basic painting schemes. But let’s go slowly and see what we can accomplish with the content of this box.


Though on the box we can read “French 35/38(H) tank”, we’ll be able to accomplish just the H39 version. The H35 version has its hull rear area different from the kit’s. This difference between hulls allows us to distinguish the H35 from the H39.

With regard to the H38 version… it never existed. It’s simply a wrong way of calling the updated H35, perhaps this confusion is due to the year when they were updated

(October 1938) or for the gun version placed to the H39 (SA 38 37mm gun) or for the name they were designated by the company (Hotchkiss Mle. 1938 H). In short, to make the H39 version, the Trumpeter kit is right.


I started mounting the six bogies. The job is not easy, the kit features thick mold lines


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