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Trackstory 1, Somua S 35

by Pascal Danjou

Published by Editions de Barbotin, ISBN 2-9520988-0-8, 50 pages plus fold-out plans.

I found this at the Trucks & Tracks show 2004 and was very pleased to spot it. It is bilingual English/French and very comprehensive for such a small book.
The text covers the whole S 35 story from the original concept through war service in 1940, but it doesn’t stop there. There was also a self-propelled gun version with a 75mm cannon, the SAu 40, and that’s here too. It was only built as a prototype but did see active service in 1940 against the Germans. S 35s were, of course taken into German service and their use is covered here as you would expect. However, they were also held by the French Army in Tunisia with the excuse that they might be needed to defend against an Allied invasion – and promptly used in Free French service when that invasion happened. Even less known outside France is that some had been squirreled away from German eyes and were brought back into service after the liberation, fighting in the La Rochelle sector. All of this is described in the text and shown in some rare photographs.

Speaking of the photographs, there’s an excellent selection here showing prewar service, wartime use up to June 1940, German use and modifications, and even internal details. There’s also a colour photo section of internal and external details of a preserved tank at Saumur. This is followed by a good description, with colour diagrams, of the markings carried up to June 1940 and then by 10 colour side-view plates of camouflage and markings including the SAu 40 in its active-service colours. Finally, there are fold-out 5-view plans of the S 35 and the SAu 40 in both 1/72 and /35 scales.

This book is just what’s needed by anyone building the Heller 1/35 kit – I wish it had been available when I built mine – and there’s quite enough here to allow a conversion to the ultra-rare SAu 40. I really do hope that the team will go on to produce similar books on other French tanks. Highly recommended!

John Prigent