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!