If you are looking for a tier III German medium tank that has a good combination of firepower, mobility and armour, look no further than the Panzer S35 739(f). Like the Panzer 38H 735(f) I reviewed previously, this one is also a French tank captured by the Germans and put into use in secondary fronts during the war. The S35 is also known as the Somua tank manufactured by a French armaments company of the same name. Somua carries all the strengths of the tier II Hotchkiss and makes them even better. So shall we take a closer look at this awesome premium tank?
At tier 3, this sort of armour profile can serve you very well as many tanks won’t be able to reliably penetrate your armour. Note that the frontal turret armour is a whopping 56 mm! What does this mean? This means you go hull-down i.e. conceal your hull behind some low obstacle and only reveal your turret to fire. Also notice that the turret is far smaller than the hull in terms of surface area, which makes it quite hard for tier 3 tanks to even land a shot on you. HP of 390 will keep alive in combat for a long time when fighting tier 3 vehicles. However, at tier 4, you will realize that your armour is not anything special and almost all tier 4 tanks will penetrate you.
Side-scraping is definitely a viable tactic for this tank as your 35 mm of rounded side armour can effectively bounce shots in this way. There is one caution that you need to keep in mind: Your rear hull armour is only 25 mm. Almost all tanks should be able to penetrate you from the rear. Watch your back and don’t let those fast tanks like BT-7 and Cruiser IV get up behind you!
Interestingly, there are a few soft spots in this tank’s armour. What do I mean by this? The stats table above tells you that the hull side armour is 35 mm. Does this mean that it is 35 mm completely in the side? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Like its smaller cousin the Hotchkiss, the Somua have a few small weak areas in its armour. If you look at the side screenshot above, you’ll see two window-like squares. Tank crew would open them to get fresh air and get better view range. Sadly, they turn out to be thinner than other parts of the armour. You will notice that experienced players will often target these areas. I advise you to guard them well and stay close to your teammates to prevent getting swarmed.
FIREPOWER (47 mm SA 35 L/34)
For those of you who read the Hotchkiss review and who are perceptive enough will notice that the S35 has a bigger caliber gun compared to its smaller cousin. The 47 mm gun will serve you well in tier 3 battles. With 0.39 dispersion, you can fight from a distance and act as a sniper for the team. Penetration is good enough at tier 3 to remain competent. However, if you’re like me, you may want to use APCR rounds more often to ensure that you do not get unexpected bounces every now and then. Besides, APCR rounds travel quicker through the air which, coupled with great accuracy, can increase your lethality by a significant margin.
Reloading speed is absolutely superb in this tank. I have had so many cases where one frustrated player, thinking that I would be reloading, popped out of his cover only to find his tank turn into a smoldering black hulk. You can really increase your Damage per Minute (DPM) output by utilizing Adrenaline. With a good view range of 230 m, you truly have a great gun that should make you the king of the battlefield in tier 3 battles.
However, when you find yourself amidst tier 4 tanks, you will be forced to use APCR shells regularly as AP simply won’t be sufficient. I suggest that you always carry at least 50 APCR shells to prepare for any unseen contingencies. Also, don’t forget to bring a few HE rounds to help you quickly reset base capture.
Were you frustrated with the Hotchkiss’ unbearably slow speed? Well, your woes will disappear with this tank! Look at the horsepower of this tank: 220!!! Why was the Hotchkiss so slow? It has a horsepower output of 75 while having a weight of almost 11 tons. Weight to Power ratio was quite horrible for the Hotchkiss. Thankfully, the Somua gets a tier 4 engine. Of course, this tank cannot fly around like a BT-7 or a Panzer III Ausf. A but you won’t fall behind of your team.
Another problem with the Hotchkiss was its slow turret and hull traverse speed. This problem is resolved with the Somua. When you drive a Hotchkiss, you often have to turn your hull as well as your turret to attack someone moving quickly. However with the S35, turning your turret alone is sufficient.
For the Somua, I use the same equipment configuration of the Hotchkiss:
You may occasionally meet players who use HE shells. Players who drive Panzer IV Ausf. A and T82 tank destroyers often use HE to take advantage of their howitzers. To reduce their effectiveness, I recommend equipping a Medium Spall Liner. Also, frustrated players who can’t penetrate your armour may decide to ram your tank. Surprise them a little and make them burst into tears with this extra armour 😉
I mentioned angling and wiggling as important tactics for the Hotchkiss. While the S35 certainly has better armour, you should still wiggle and angle as much as you can to preserve your health. This is why carrying Coated Optics is more viable than carrying Binoculars. With this equipment, your view range should increase beyond 250 m.
For the 47 mm gun, I carry the following ammunition:
Obviously, if you want to earn more credits, you should refrain from using APCR. However, keep in mind that the Somua is a premium tank, which means it has a higher income coefficient than non-premium tanks. While I do not know the exact figure, from my own experience, if you deal damage consistently, you will make money even when you use APCR almost exclusively.
For consumables, I carry the following:
Adrenaline is a fantastic investment as it dramatically improves your rate of fire. And don’t forget your chocolate! German crew must have chocolate if you want them to go the extra mile! 😀
Tier 4 tanks, especially tank destroyers, are all potentially dangerous to the Somua. You will have to refrain from leading the charge in a tier 4 battle; otherwise, you won’t survive long. On a positive note, almost all tier 3 tanks are good game. However, you should watch out for these tanks in particular as I died to them quite often:
Usually premium tanks are doubled-edged swords because if its particularly in one area, it will usually fare horribly in another. Hotchkiss is one good example of this case as it excels in the armour department but performs horribly in mobility. Nonetheless, the Somua is a masterpiece because it simply excels in every area. Kudos to the French for developing such a wonderful tank!