The SOMUA S35 was a French cavalry tank of the Second World War. Built from 1936 until 1940 to equip the armored divisions of the Cavalry, it was for its time a relatively agile medium-weight tank, superior in armor and armament to both its French and foreign competitors, like the contemporary versions of the German Panzer III. It was constructed from well-sloped, mainly cast, armor sections, that however made it expensive to produce and time-consuming to maintain.
During the German invasion of May 1940, the SOMUA S35 proved itself to be a tactically effective type, but this was negated by strategic mistakes in deploying its units. After the defeat of France in June 1940, limiting production to a number of 430, captured SOMUA S35s were used by the Axis powers. A derived type, the SOMUA S40, with an improved suspension, lowered hull cast and welded turret armor, had been planned to replace the original version on the production lines in July 1940. It is best to just upgrade right away to the SAU40, as its only a $25 upgrade.
Its name comes from the Society of Mechanical Tools and Machining Artillery of Saint-Ouen (Société d'Outillage Mécanique et d'Usinage d'Artillerie). In 1935 this company produced a prototype with a new concept named by the French army: Armored Combat (AMC) model 1935 SOMUA.
In an innovative design for its time, the SOMUA had a molded shell, bolted, making it a modular tank. However, due to the vagaries of time, only the platoon leader's tank was equipped with a radio (ER 29) and could not correspond with his subordinates only with flags of transmission. A 28 ER was well under consideration to equip tanks subordinates but he could not enter service before May 10, 1940. The SOMUA S-35 participated successfully May 12, 1940 at the Battle of Hannut in Belgium, the first armored battle of WWII.
Production was limited to a 100 tanks per year by the demands of the General Staff between 1938 and 1939 while the production capacity of SOMUA were higher. Also, just over 400 SOMUA were produced, all of which are engaged in combat in May-June 1940 including outgoing factory and delivered into the hands of inexperienced crews, as with the 4th DCR Colonel de Gaulle.
The S-35 were concentrated in the light mechanized divisions, as did the Germans with their Panzer divisions. Nevertheless, they were almost all destroyed or scuttled, and the defeat of France, the Germans seized as much french tanks they could (about 297) and thought to use them alongside the Pz. III, which they don't have much left. However, the turret of the S-35 was rejected and they reconvertirent in tanks or training for combat against partisans under the name Panzerkampfwagen 35-S 739 (F). Some were sent to the Eastern Front, others were sold to the Italian army.
One of them, captured by the Yugoslav partisans, returned to service in the Allied camp. The German army used it on French territory in June 1944 while trying to repel the Allied invasion. As the Allies were able to capture them, they yielded to the French who turned against the Wehrmacht.
Strategies and Tactics
- At the price of just $20 and it being a medium tank, it can rule the battlefield in 1939.
- The best era for this tank to operate in is 1939 and occasionaly in 1942; in 1945 advanced armored units will anihilate groups of the S35.
- As soon as your economy permits, research the Sau-40. The thicker armor, better gun, and not to mention the assault gun capability greatly enhances the strength of your ground units.
- If possible, have fighters overhead to engage and fighter-bombers that try and take out your armored groups.
Pros & Cons
+Available and well equiped in 1939.
- Can go toe to toe with most light tanks and outrange most early war designs.
- has the same firepower as the B1, but less armor as a trade off for higher mobility
+/-Research is cheap so this tank is quickly phased out.
-It is below average for a medium tank, it is only better than the Lee. (minus the M3 -75mm gun)
The S35 is armed with an Medium Caliber, which fires both HE shells and AP shells, and a .30 Caliber Machine Gun.