I have been fortunate enough to purchase this tank for $4.99 a week ago and so far I am quite satisfied with it. In fact, I have purchased two other tanks as well: Panzer S35 739(f) and Panzer B2 740(f). Do you know what all three of these tanks have in common? They are all made in France! During the Second World War, Germans often had to supplement their armour with captured vehicles from other nations as they lacked both quantity and quality. The Panzer 38H is known as the Hotchkiss tank because it was manufactured by a French arms and automobile company called Hotchkiss et Cie. In the World of Tanks community, this tank has an affectionate nickname “Mini-Maus”. Does this tank live up to this name? Let’s find out!
This is where the tank really shines. It’s not called the “Mini-Maus” for nothing! Maus, a tier 10 German monster, was built to absorb damage using its thick armour. The Hotchkiss does have good armour for its class – 40 mm of armour all around including hull and turret really makes this tank capable. You may also notice that the armour is sloped a bit which certainly helps bouncing off enemy shells. I haven’t had the honor of trying out tier 10 vehicles yet but I know that the Maus excels at side-scraping. Its mini counterpart also does well with this technique. To fully realize the armour of the Hotchkiss, you need to hide behind obstacles and start side-scraping. I have been able to bounce shots from Pom-Pom guns of Cruiser III and AT-1 tank destroyers by side-scraping off a wall or a teammate’s dead tank. There are a few weak spots in the armour and players using APCR can penetrate. I have seen so many players complain about how they thought this was supposed to be Maus’ cousin and it performed so poorly. Well, not all tanks are invincible. To use a tank effectively, you need to know its strengths and weaknesses. Then you must play according to your strengths; in this case, use your thick armour and maximize its effective armour thickness by side-scraping and angling (make your tank into a diamond shape instead of a straight rectangle).
With this sort of armour profile, you won’t be concerned if a lone T7 Armored Car pops up behind your back and starts shooting at you – remember your rear armour is also 40 mm! However, I do want to warn you to watch out for tank destroyers and tanks with devastating auto-loader guns such as the SU-76, T82, Cruiser IV and T-46. Note that these tanks are all tier 3. Tier 3 tanks can really melt your armour so stay in cover and always stay close to your teammates for mutual support. The fact that you only have 210 hit points means that a Cruiser IV can kill you with a single magazine!
FIREPOWER (37 mm SA 38 L/34)
If the Hotchkiss had great firepower like the Maus, this tank would be the perfect tank. Sadly, firepower is not this tank’s forte. Alpha damage is quite lacking as you can see above in the stats. This means you will have to take shots often but thankfully, 38H’s reload speed and accuracy are quite good for tier 2. Penetration is average with AP shells and I often find myself using APCR quite often because you don’t want to miss an opportunity to damage the enemy.With APCR, you can reliably penetrate T18, 38H and many others with good armour profiles. While this does get costly, it’s a premium tank so you won’t be into financial trouble. When you encounter a T7 Car or a T26, it’s best to conserve the APCR and use AP since you can pretty much penetrate them anywhere.
Now, the two strengths of this gun is reload speed and accuracy. There are those players who say that the Hotchkiss is a main breakthrough tank but I say that playing as a sniper can be quite effective too. You can effectively engage enemy tanks from long distance and coupled with this tank’s view range, you can dish out quite a lot of shots. Having a total ammunition capacity of 100 rounds, you should have enough to kill many tanks.
Mobility is where the Hotchkiss really falls behind. It is painfully slow and you will notice that the tank can’t really reach places quickly. This forces you to think carefully before moving to a new location because it will take you quite a lot of time. Also, if you go down hill, don’t think about climbing back up because with only 75 horsepower, you won’t be able to climb slopes quickly enough. I have had many instances when the Hotchkiss died because I couldn’t move to the nearest cover quickly enough. If you have a good platoon mate, you can ask him to push you to the main combat zone; for this role, a Cruiser III or BT-2 would be perfect or any tank with particularly good horsepower.
For the Hotchkiss, I use the following equipment configuration:
This tank has good view range of 230 m and one might suggest to use Binoculars to maximize the view range; however, if you wish to use your armour during the inevitable brawling sessions, you want to angle and wiggle as much as you can. If you use Binoculars, you will need to stay stationary in order to activate its effect. So, use Coated Optics to be able to see further and use your armour more effectively.
I have never used Light Spall Liner before on a tank but with this tank you might as well use it because there are often times when frustrated players use HE on your armour. To minimize damage, this equipment piece can turn out to be quite helpful. The guiding principle here is that since the Hotchkiss has good armour you might as well improve this advantage even further. Alternatively, you can have a Toolbox as you will be side-scraping often, which means your tracks will be damaged constantly.
For the 37 mm gun, I carry the following ammunition:
Carry more APCR rounds as you will often find the AP penetration somewhat lacking at times. Also, if you are facing tier III tanks, you will want all the extra firepower to be more effective. Having HE will allow you to reset base cap easily.
For consumables, I carry these:
Adrenaline is one of the most important items for this tank as it dramatically increases reload speed, compensating for your tank’s lacklustre alpha damage. Carry Chocolate as well as this simply boosts all your crew stats by a whopping 10%.
There are surprisingly a large number of tanks that you should watch out for. This does not mean that the Hotchkiss is ineffective. With side-scraping, you can present your enemy a solid wall of defense. In addition, your armour will hold against all AP shell machine gun fire so T7 Cars can be neglected entirely if you so desire. I want to advise you to be cautious of tier 3 tanks in general as they have sufficient firepower. Moreover, all tank destroyers are dangerous to you for they will easily penetrate. However, I have been able to bounce a few shots from enemy tank destroyers by side-scraping. So without further adieu, these are the tanks that you need to target first to eliminate the primary threats.
Overall, this tank is a good investment especially if you like French tanks. As of now, WOT Blitz does not have French tanks so this is the only way to play French tanks that gave so much trouble to the German Panzerwaffe during the Battle of France in 1940.