Given the growing pile of metal (and plastic) on my painting table, my Christmas list was very restrained this year. However, one addition was some 28mm armoured support for my German WW2 units serving in the Balkans.
I thought I would start with a PKW III, however, the Warlord model is part of their link up with the kit maker Italeri. If you are a model kit builder this is fine, but they are not good wargame models. They are too fiddly and time consuming to build, and more importantly, simply not robust enough for the wargames table. The tracks in particular are not nearly strong enough, even if you manage to construct them.
My pre-Christmas trip down to my Mum's included a stop over in what is probably my idea of heaven - the book town of Hay on Wye. A castle, good pubs, and over 20 second hand bookshops. One of my many purchases was a MMP publication on the 'Prinz Eugen' Division. This superbly put together publication has masses of photographs of the division in action in the Balkans. What caught my eye was the extensive use of captured French armour. I was aware of the H38 and R35 being used, but not the much heavier Char B1. 17 of these heavy tanks went to the Balkans.
However, I settled on the Somua S-35, not least because the Warlord model is one of their much more robust resin models. Just a few parts that go together quickly, even the gun barrel has a half decent lug, one of my pet hates with poor tank model design.
German forces in the Balkans had 43 tanks of this type used by Panzer Battalion 202 and 212 as well as Special Purpose Armoured Company 12. They were known as Panzerkampfwagen Somua 35S(f) 739 in German service.
The S-35 was built between 1936 and 1940 for the French Cavalry Divisions. For its time it was a well designed tank, better than most of its opponents. The problem was a complex and expensive production methodology and poor strategic and tactical deployment. Around 440 were built. It had a 47mm main gun and MG, with a petrol engine that managed 25mph on roads and around 20mph cross country. I have seen originals at Saumur, Bovington and in the USA. A few in Bulgarian service survived in post-war police roles.
I painted this model Panzer Grey, added some German markings and dirtied it up with plenty of Balkan mud. A very decent model that does the job well.