Amazingly, this upcoming May-June 2020 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of France. I am curious as to how it will be remembered – if at all. Certainly I would think that both the French and the Germans will likely shy away from commemorating the event for diametrically opposed reasons. Yet, it is definitely worth remembering it as a seminal event that without question fashioned all of the world’s history since.
I have studied this battle since my days at West Point. I was fortunate there to study with the then-USMA Department of History Chair COL Robert A. Doughty (now a retired Brigadier General). I was able to participate in a class (HI498 – a colloquium) with him and just one other cadet during my second semester senior year as part of my concentration of studies in French. A side note – my class – 1984 – was the last class not to have majors – we had concentrations. This meant we could choose 8 classes outside of the 44 classes in the core curriculum. As I love military history, especially French military history, this colloquium was a great opportunity. We studied Alistair Horne’s works among others.
BG Doughty has authored many books (just check out this list on Amazon), many that focus on France from WWI to WWII. I recently got two excellent books on the subject that he published after I graduated that I have not read: The Seeds of Disaster: The Development of French Army Doctrine, 1919-39, (which discusses how the French Army came to set themselves up for disaster) and The Breaking Point (dealing with the pivotal Sedan breakthrough in 1940). I also plan on rereading Alistair Horne’s To Lose a Battle: France 1940 as well.
The reason for all this reading and research is (well, besides for pure pleasure) to prepare myself to be fully knowledgeable ready to run several tank battle games set in France in May-June 1940 using the What a Tanker© rules. Obviously, the games will be, at best, an abstraction of what happened. However, I wanted to have requisite knowledge of the battle and to prepare and build suitable models for both sides to give a proper flavor to the conflict that shocked the world. I did get an A- in the colloquium, but that was 35½ years ago, I want to refresh!
Previously, I have built French and German tanks and run several France 1940 games described in this blog – but my 15mm/1:100 scale tank inventory was quite lacking in terms of the wide variety of vehicles used. I aim to remedy that. I am currently planning on running a game at TotalCon in February, and at HAVOC in April. I may do others as well, plus club gaming sessions. This blog post describes the first chapter of my preparation and force building upgrades for those events – four Hotchkiss light cavalry tanks (one H35 and three H39’s).
I will go over a bit of history of the Hotchkiss tanks and then show some WIP shots of the models. I will then share some eye-candy shots of the finished models. Lastly, as per usual, I will share the paints and materials used in this project.
The H35 tank was originally rejected by the infantry, who chose the R35 instead. It was intended to be a light cavalry tank, though it did equip some infantry tank units as well. Hotchkiss built around 1200 H35’s and H39’s, with the majority being H35’s. The Hotchkiss company was actually founded by an American from Connecticut, Benjamin Hotchkiss. He was a Union ordnance engineer at Colt and a munitions builder during the American Civil War. Finding no US business after that conflict, he moved to France and set up his own company.
The H35 and H39 both had the same 37mm SA18 gun that many French tanks had though the H39 had a longer barrel with better armor penetration (30mm vs 23mm of armor with the shorter barrel). Given that a Panzer IIIE of the time had 30mm of armor all around, this was not adequate to be sure. It had a crew of just two, which made it challenging to operate effectively in battle. Three out of four of the armored divisions’ tank regiments had Hotchkiss tanks (the other one had SOMUA S35’s). The armor was adequate, but with a range of only 80 miles and a top speed of 17 mph, it was not very cavalry-like. On top of it all, it was tough to drive and mechanically unreliable.
After France capitulated, both Germany and Italy got Hotchkiss tanks. Some of these Italian vehicles faced US Army Rangers in Sicily. After the war, some Hotchkiss tanks served on with the Israeli Defense Force until 1952.
I acquired a 3-vehicle packet from Battlefront Miniatures (#FR020) and one single H39 vehicle from Peter Pig (#PP33). The Battlefront ones could be either H35’s or H39’s. In the end, one of the H35 guns was unsatisfactory, so I ended up with one H35 and three H39’s. In the game, there are no differences statistically between the two types.
Now, I would like to share the finished vehicles – eye candy (at least I hope you find them nice to look at).
Battlefront H39’s (two)
Peter Pig H39
This concludes my very last post of 2020 – and the beginning of this project. (I will be doing a 2019 round up of course – but that will be coming later this week).
More Battle of France vehicles (French and German) will be coming and I hope that you will find them interesting. If you have any feedback, good, bad or otherwise, let me know in the comments section – I do appreciate knowing what you think.
Thanks for looking and Happy 2020!
PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE VEHICLES:
- Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol 91%
- Microscale Liquid Decal Film
- 1/8″ neodymium magnets
- Green stuff (kneadatite)
- Gorilla Glue
- Poster tack and ¼” square wooden dowels on plastic plates
- Reaper MSP “Black Primer”
- Vallejo “Black Grey”
- Vallejo “Surface Primer – USA Olive Drab”
- Vallejo “Flow Improver”
- Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
- Vallejo Model Air “Pale Green”
- Vallejo Game Air “Black”
- Battlefront “Army Green”
- Army Painter “Military Shader” (shade)
- Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
- Vallejo Model Air “Rust” (71.080)
- Vallejo Model Air “Matt Varnish”
- Vallejo Model Air “Sand Yellow” (H35 only)
- Battlefront “Army Green”
- Vallejo Model Air “Dark Brown” (H39’s only)
- Battlefront “Oxide Red”
- Vallejo Model Air “Glass Varnish”
- Appropriate decals from Battlefront
- Microscale Micro-Set
- Microscale Micro-Sol
- Vallejo Weathering Effects “European Thick Mud”
- Vallejo Weathering Effects “European Splash Mud”
- Vallejo Weathering Effects “Crushed Grass”
- Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”