While the Battle for France was brief, it has proven in retrospect to be a surprisingly complex and interesting armor campaign. French tanks performed well against their German counterparts, though they were overall used badly, usually dispersed to infantry support roles in formations more suitable to the last war than the "Lightning War" perfected by Germany.
Kits of French AFVs remain frustratingly few; however, Decalomaniacs hasn't let that prevent the release of a set of markings for the Renault R35, R39 & R40, along with the Hotchkiss H35 & H39. This in itself is a reason to celebrate. Now even kits of the captured German versions of these tanks can be back-dated to a dozen different vehicles, mostly located in France, but also in Morocco.
Inside a Ziploc baggie are two sheets of decals, one white numbers and the second multicolored badges and other symbols popular on French tanks. An informative overview and marking guide for 12 tanks is also included.
Decalomaniacs has recently improved its production ability by switching from an ALPS printer to laser printing. Lasers allow for sharper graphics and more-saturated colors. Still, in the interest of full understanding, these decals are not of the same order of quality as those printed by commercial endeavors like Cartograf. When properly applied and weathered, they will however compare favorably with most kit-supplied decals.
The decals are printed on a single sheet of film, so be sure to cut them out carefully. Decalomaniacs has grouped the twelve offerings into boxes, making it easier to use the correct markings, rather than hunting around on the sheet for this number or that.
I'm happy to say that the set offers modelers a chance to build a dozen different AFVs. The Renault R40 was the most-produced French tank of WW2 (1,685 vehicles), and this decal sheet has five short-gunned R35s, and two upgunned R40s. Unfortunately, Brach Model appears to be the only kit on the market currently available. Bronco has a Hotchkiss 38/39 that is still around, so the five versions in this set may be more useful to the average kit builder.
The twelve variants are:
1. R35 from the 21st BCC (Bataillon de Chars de Combat or "tank battalion")near Schlucht Pass, 1940 2. R35 from the 2nd Tank Battalion, Royal Yugoslav Army. 1941 3. R35 from the 17th BCC, May 1940 4. R35, 61st BCC Morocco, late 1942 5. R40, 2nd DCR, 40th BCC Abbeville, May 1940 6. R40, 48th BCC, June 1940 7. R35, FFI (Forces Françaises de l'Intérieu, the French Resistance), Paris, August 1944 8. H39, 1st regiment Chasseurs D'Afrique, Morocco 1939 9. H39, 25th BCC, Avesnes May 1940 10. H39, FFI 1944 11. H39, 12th Dragoons, Germany, French Occupation Zone 1945 12. H35, 2nd Cavalry Division, France 1939
The marking guidelines also include the color palette for the camouflage, though not patterns are provided. Check your references.
Finally, a generous selection of license plates is included. Using them is a two-step process whereby a white background is laid down and then the "plate" is applied. Not all vehicles used plates, so, again, check your references.
Decalomaniacs is a treasure for our hobby because Georg Eyerman is dedicated to bringing out obscure and otherwise overlooked vehicle markings. While the choices of subject matter are occasionally highly idiosyncratic, this set should be welcomed by any modelers of French WW2 light tanks, as well as diorama builders looking to expand the offerings of tanks knocked out, captured or even occasionally besting their German opponents.
Thanks to Decalomaniacs for providing this review sample. Be sure to say your saw this set reviewed on Armorama when ordering your own.
Highs: A good variety of vehicles across the major French light tank variants.Lows: Printed on a single sheet of decal film, so will need to be cut out carefully.Verdict: An outstanding addition to the French WW2 tank modeling possibilities.
Our Thanks to Decalcomaniacs! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.