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Rank VI | Premium | Golden Eagles
Chinese A-5C Pack
This page is about the French light tank H.39. For the premium version, see H.39 "Cambronne".
GarageImage H.39.jpg
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The Char léger modèle 1935 (Hotchkiss) H modifié 39 is a heavily upgraded Char léger modèle 1935 (Hotchkiss) H cavalry tank from 1939. Since cavalry units sought a faster tank, it was decided in October 1936 to modernize its current tanks by installing a more powerful engine. In 1937, a new prototype with a 120 hp engine was created in place of the 78 hp engine. The hull was stretched to provide enough space to accommodate it, resulting in a taller, nearly level engine deck. Aside from episcopes, tails, and various radio sets, this included the gradual introduction of a larger 37 mm SA38 L/35 tank gun with much improved anti-tank capabilities, providing 30 mm of armour penetration at 1 km.

Introduced in Update 1.75 "La Résistance", the Char léger modèle 1935 (Hotchkiss) H modifié 39 is vastly improved over its predecessor. It has a slightly superior main armament, thicker armour overall, and a substantially more powerful engine, which makes it surprisingly fast on flat ground. Nonetheless, as compared to adversaries from other nations, this vehicle remains below average. While it travels quickly in a straight line, it goes slowly over muddy terrain, and its narrow tracks considerably slow it cross-country. It is best employed as a close support tank in urban environments, following teammates while waiting for a good firing opportunity at the enemy.

General info

Survivability and armour

Armourfront / side / back
Hull40 / 40 / 40
Turret45 / 40 / 40
Crew2 people
Visibility75 %

Armour type:

  • Cast homogeneous armour (hull, turret, cupola)
  • Structural steel (mudguards, trench-crossing tail, exhaust cover)
Armour Front (Slope angle) Sides Rear Roof
Hull 40 mm (8-33°) Upper plate
22 mm (74-79°)Upper glacis
40 mm (30°) Lower glacis
40 mm (1-25°) Top
40 mm Bottom
40 mm (26-29°) Top
40 mm (29-31°) Bottom
22 mm (14-15°) Front glacis
22 mm (0-4°) Centre & rear
Turret 45 mm (4-28°) Turret front
45 mm (28-30°) Left side
25 mm (10-11°) + 45 mm (4°) Gun mantlet
40 mm (0-28°) 40 mm (30°) 25 mm (22°) Front
25 mm Centre and rear
Cupola 40 mm (cylindrical) Base
40 mm (spherical) Dome


  • Suspension wheels, bogies and tracks are 15 mm thick.
  • Turret ring is 35 mm thick with a 5 mm protective collar.
  • The trench-crossing tail is 5 mm thick and the mudguards are 4 mm thick.

With a rather constant 45-50 mm effective thickness from all sides, this tank can be a hard nut to crack if spotted at a good distance (500+ m), and can take a good beating up close if care is taken to properly angle and avoid tanks with especially potent guns. However, its armour should not be relied upon; most reserve tank guns are capable of penetrating its raw armour thickness and have faster reloads, so hard cover should be utilized generously. With only 2 crewmen, any penetrating shot could be your last.


Speedforward / back
AB41 / 8 km/h
RB and SB37 / 7 km/h
Number of gears5 forward
1 back
Weight12.1 t
Engine power
AB229 hp
RB and SB120 hp
Power-to-weight ratio
AB18.9 hp/t
RB and SB9.9 hp/t
Game Mode Max Speed (km/h) Weight (tons) Engine power (horsepower) Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)
Forward Reverse Stock Upgraded Stock Upgraded
Arcade 41 8 12.1 130 229 10.74 18.93
Realistic 37 7 106 120 8.76 9.92

Modifications and economy

Repair cost
Total cost of modifications3 620 Rp icon.png
167 Sl icon.png
Talisman cost190 Ge icon.png
Crew trainingfree
Experts1 000 Sl icon.png
Aces10 Ge icon.png
Research Aces80 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
10 / 10 / 10 % Sl icon.png
100 / 100 / 100 % Rp icon.png
Mobility Protection Firepower
Mods new tank traks.png
440 Rp icon.png
19 Sl icon.png
45 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank suspension.png
Mods new tank break.png
Brake System
380 Rp icon.png
17 Sl icon.png
35 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank filter.png
Mods new tank transmission.png
Mods new tank engine.png
720 Rp icon.png
35 Sl icon.png
70 Ge icon.png
Mods tank tool kit.png
Improved Parts
Mods extinguisher.png
Improved FPE
Mods tank reinforcement fr.png
Crew Replenishment
Mods new tank horizontal aiming.png
Horizontal Drive
440 Rp icon.png
19 Sl icon.png
45 Ge icon.png
Mods tank cannon.png
Adjustment of Fire
380 Rp icon.png
17 Sl icon.png
35 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank vertical aiming.png
Elevation Mechanism
540 Rp icon.png
25 Sl icon.png
55 Ge icon.png
Mods art support.png
Artillery Support
720 Rp icon.png
35 Sl icon.png
70 Ge icon.png


Main armament

Shoulder stabilizer
Reduces the swing of the gun in one plane while moving
Ammunition76 rounds
Reloadbasic crew → aces
5.2 → 4.0 s
Vertical guidance-13° / 20°
Main article: SA38 L/33 (37 mm)
37 mm SA38 L/33 Turret rotation speed (°/s) Reloading rate (seconds)
Mode Capacity Vertical Horizontal Stabilizer Stock Upgraded Full Expert Aced Stock Full Expert Aced
Arcade 76 -13°/+20° ±180° Shoulder 14.9 20.7 25.1 27.8 29.6 5.20 4.60 4.24 4.00
Realistic 9.3 11.0 13.3 14.8 15.7

The 37 mm SA38 cannon has significantly better penetration and post-penetration damage than its predecessor, but has a longer reload rate than its peers. Know your enemies' insides well, target their gunners first or immobilize them by shooting at the engine, and take care to make every shot count. Avoid exchanging shots at long distances as your gun's penetration values decrease heavily.


Penetration statistics
Ammunition Type of
Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
10 m 100 m 500 m 1,000 m 1,500 m 2,000 m
Mle1938 APC 54 50 36 24 16 11
Shell details
Ammunition Type of
mass (kg)
Fuse delay Fuse sensitivity
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
0% 50% 100%
Mle1938 APC 705 0.7 - - - 48° 63° 71°

Ammo racks

Ammo racks of the H.39
rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
76 75 (+1) 68 (+8) 62 (+14) 55 (+21) 49 (+27) 42 (+34)
rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
36 (+40) 29 (+47) 23 (+53) 16 (+60) 10 (+66) (+75) Yes


  • The visual discrepancy concerns the total number of shells as well as the number of shells in rack 1:
    • 80 shells are modelled but you can only pack 76 shells, meaning some rounds are never present (crossed out in the picture).
    • Rack 1 is modeled as 6 shells but contains only 2 shells.
  • As they are modelled by sets of 6, 7, or 9, shells disappear from racks only after you've fire all shells in the set.

Machine guns

Ammunition2 400 rounds
Belt capacity150 rounds
Reloadbasic crew → aces
6.5 → 5.0 s
Fire rate551 shots/min
Main article: MAC 31 (7.5 mm)
7.5 mm MAC 31
Mount Capacity (Belt) Fire rate Vertical Horizontal
Coaxial 2,400 (150) 551 N/A N/A

The small calibre of the MAC 31 machine gun makes it largely ineffective against all armoured vehicles but the ones with an open compartment. It still can be used to ping targets as a rangefinding help or to mow down minor obstacles blocking your line of sight.

Usage in battles

Offensive role

The H.39 was designed as a light infantry tank. It should be played as a support tank, taking advantage of its good cannon, armour and mobility. By playing as a support tank, you will help kill enemy tanks and thus turn the tide of engagements on the frontline. Once the enemy is destroyed, your mobility allows you to move forward together with frontline tanks and help capturing objectives. Stay close to the frontline to maximize penetration power and support spearheading tanks with it, all while staying away from the frontline to avoid being flanked or swarmed. When engaging enemy tanks, angle your tank to maximize your armour. Your cannon can take on most opponents but your only shell lacks post-penetration damage.

Defensive role

In the event the spearhead tanks of your team get crushed by the enemy, you will then play a defensive role by containing enemy breakthrough attempts. Being at a (short) distance from the frontline will force enemy tanks to drive in the open to get to you. Play with a nearby obstacle you can use as cover if you get hit and need to repair. Have a planned escape plan as the enemy will try to use artillery or CAS to dislodge you from cover. Make good use of your gun depression and fire from the cover of a ridge. Aim precisely to immobilize enemy targets on your first shot. Get back into cover between reloads and pop out a few metres away from your last spot.

Other roles

If you try to use the H.39 in a different role on the battlefield, you will quickly reach its limits:

  • If you try to play as a frontline tank, you will take shots from long range tank destroyers that will disable your tank: your armour is sloped but not very thick and not enough for long guns. Your limited crew makes it easy to incapacitate you. You will also be easily flanked by light tanks or armoured cars, especially if they swarm you. Your reverse speed is too poor to get you out of hot spots quickly enough. Only 1-on-1 engagements should be performed in this role.
  • If you attempt to play long range engagements, your good gun depression will be useful but your short gun will lack accuracy and your shell penetration will greatly drop over distance. Any successful enemy penetrating shot will disable your tank.
Notable enemies

Many tanks are capable of easily disabling you. By order of lethality:

  • Long range tank destroyers
  • Howitzers with powerful HE shells
  • Tanks with HEAT shells
  • Frontline tanks with APHE shells
  • Light tanks or armoured cars with autocannons
Defeating a H.39

The H.39 has several weak spots:

  • In a frontal encounter, the driver's hatch or the almost vertical hull below the turret are the easiest to target.
  • When flanking, aim for the flanks right under the turret.
  • In all situations the turret cupola is a sure way to knock out the gunner.

Pros and cons


  • Tiny tank with tiny profile
  • -13° of gun depression
  • Has a gun stabilizer mechanic, which makes stop-and-shoot tactics easier and faster
  • Thick all-around armour that can be very strongly angled
  • Moderately powerful engine that can keep it at its 41 km/h top speed on flat ground
  • Decent reverse speed of -7 km/h
  • Arguably the best French rank 1 tank


  • Only 2 crew members
  • Only one choice of ammunition, which has no explosive filler
  • Sub-par penetration
  • Long reload for the calibre
  • Slow turret rotation
  • Driver's hatch is almost completely vertical
  • Narrow tracks means poor ground flotation


The H.39 was an improved version of the H.35, with a modified suspension and more powerful engine. 700 were built before France fell. Originally armed with the same SA 18 short gun as the H.35 and R.35, it saw service with the 342nd Independent Tank Company in Norway (which went over to the Free French with their tanks and fought with them in 1941 in Syria), and equipped six of the tank battalions (14th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 42nd and 45th) in the three pre-war armoured divisions, and 12 cavalry squadrons. The SA 18-armed version is sometimes referred to (erroneously) as the H.38.

The poor anti-tank performance of the First World War-era 37 mm infantry gun (on which the SA 18 tank gun was based) during the Spanish Civil War led to the redesigned SA 38. In total 358 SA 18-armed tanks, mostly H.39 and H.35, would be rearmed with the new gun before the invasion of France, with several hundred more being produced as France fell. Up-gunned H.35s and H.39s were employed by the French as section- and platoon-leader vehicles.

After the fall of France, the Germans retrofitted some of their captured vehicles with the newer gun, and replaced the commander's cupola with their more customary split hatch for the tank commander. These vehicles, which the Germans called the 38H 735, fought in Finland in 1941, in the Balkans, and against the Allies in France. In December of 1944, 29 were still in German service. Another 24 were cut down to just the hull pan and nose armour and used as Geschützwagen (assault guns), and armed with the 75 mm PaK40 L46 gun, making them similar in appearance to the Marder I conversion from captured Lorraine Schlepper vehicles. These were actively employed against Allied forces in Normandy. Some recaptured H.39s served with Free French forces to the end of the war.



See also

Vehicles equipped with the same chassis

External links

Light tanks  H.35 · H.39 · H.39 "Cambronne"

France light tanks
AMC.34/35  AMC.34 YR · AMC.35 (ACG.1)
H.35/39  H.35 · H.39 · H.39 "Cambronne"
AMX-13  AMX-13 (FL11) · AMX-13-M24 · AMX-13 · AMX-13 (SS.11) · AMX-13-90 · AMX-13 (HOT)
Wheeled  AML-90 · AMX-10RC
AMD.35  AMD.35 · AMD.35 (SA35)
E.B.R.  E.B.R. (1951) · E.B.R. (1954) · E.B.R. (1963)
Other  FCM.36 · R.35 (SA38) · Char 25t · MARS 15 · VBCI-2 (MCT30)
Austria  SK-105A2
Great Britain  ▄Crusader Mk.II
USA  LVT-4/40 · ▄M3A3 Stuart