|Somua S-35||Pzkpfw 739(f)|
The Somua S-35 was a French Cavalry tank of the Second World War. Built from 1936 until 1940 to equip the armoured divisions of the Cavalry, it was for its time a relatively agile medium-weight tank, superior in armour and armament to both its French and foreign competitors, such as the contemporary versions of the German Panzerkampfwagen III. It was constructed from well-sloped, mainly cast, armour sections, that however made it expensive to produce and time-consuming to maintain. During the German invasion of May 1940, the Somua S-35 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 S-35s were used by the Axis powers.
After the fall of France a number of S 35s (297 were captured according to some sources) were taken into service with the Wehrmacht as the Panzerkampfwagen 35-S 739(f). The Germans modified the cupola by cutting its top off and installing a simple hatch. On 10 December 1940 the first German tank unit equipped with French Beutepanzer was formed: 201. Panzerregiment with 118 tanks, 36 of these were S 35s, the rest "38Hs". On 10 February 1941 202. Panzerregiment was established; both regiments were united into Panzerbrigade 100. On 27 January the independent 301. Panzerabteilung was formed with French vehicles; total S 35 organic strength in the Wehrmacht was thus ninety. On 22 March this independent battalion replaced the Second Battalion of 201. Panzerregiment, which battalion was renamed to Panzer-Abteilung 211 and sent to Finland in June, the only German unit with S 35s that would fight on the Eastern Front. The 21st and 25. Panzerdivision in 1943 used some S 35s when reforming after having been largely destroyed. Some vehicles had their superstructure removed and were used for driver-training, while others were used for security duties. Some of these units fought in Normandy in 1944, such as 100. Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungs Abteilung and 206. Panzer Abteilung, while others were used in Yugoslavia for anti-partisan duties (7. SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs-Division "Prinz Eugen", 12. Panzer-Kompanie z.b.V. and I./Panzer-Regiment 202). There were still twelve S 35s listed as in German service on 30 December 1944.