In-Box Review
French Colonial Senegalese
Tirailleurs Senegalais, Groupe De Combat France, Infanterie Coloniale 1939-1945
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Tirailleurs Senegalais
Groupe De Combat France, Infanterie Coloniale 1939-1945
(French Colonial Infantry Battle Group 1939-1945: Senegalese Infantry)
Series: Armée Francaise “39-45”
Item: 136

Senegalese Tirailleurs
French colonial troops often fought tenaciously. On 6 June 1940, 4th North African Div. took on the 25th Panzer Regt. at Chateau de Quesnoy, fighting so fiercely that the Germans broke off and bypassed the hedgehog.
    The Senegalese Tirailleurs (French: Tirailleurs Sénégalais) were a corps of colonial infantry in the French Army recruited from Senegal, French West Africa and throughout west, central and east Africa, the main province of the French colonial empire. The noun tirailleur, which translates as "skirmisher", was a designation given by the French Army to indigenous infantry recruited in the various colonies and overseas possessions of the French Empire during the 19th and 20th centuries.

    Despite recruitment not being limited to Senegal, these infantry units took on the adjective "sénégalais" since that was where the first black African Tirailleur regiment had been formed. The first
    Senegalese Tirailleurs were formed in 1857 and served France in a number of wars, including World War I (providing around 200,000 troops, more than 135,000 of whom fought in Europe and 30,000 of whom were killed) and World War II. Other tirailleur regiments were raised in French North Africa from the Arab and Berber populations of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, they were called Tirailleurs algériens or Turcos. Tirailleur regiments were also raised in Indochina, they were called Vietnamese, Tonkinese or Annamites Tirailleurs.*

Heller released several small (3-4 figures or people with animals) sets of 1/35 Second World War French soldiers in the 1970s. This is a trio of Tirailleurs Senegalais feature clean molding and good detail.

Armée Francaise “39-45” was Heller’s 1/35 series of Second World War French subjects. I do not know how many sets there were although box art advertisements show several continental and colonial subjects (Those with an asterisk wear Free French uniforms.):
1. 25mm Anti-Tank Cannon Model 1934
2. 2éme D.B. (I)
3. 81mm Mortar crew*
4. Assault troops*
5. Chasseurs Alpins (Reviewed here at KitMaker.)
6. Frogmen in a rubber raft (WW II?)
7. Gnome-Rhone Motorcycle
8. Hotchkiss machine gun crew
9. Moto Gnome-Rhone ET Sidecar Military Cycle
10. Sahara Camel Corps
11. Stretcher bearers*
12. Groupe Tabor

Heller also combined this kit and other sets to make diorama sets, including the diorama set "Koufra."

Several 1/35 WW II French tanks and Wehrmacht figure sets were also created. I read that these models now belong to Italeri and SK Models.

The models
Heller packed three sprues with 37 parts (The kit states 39 pieces.) in a plastic bag, held inside an end-opening box. The parts are cleanly molded without many troubling seams, sink marks, ejector circles, and little flash. I don't think they are as well molded as the Chasseurs Alpins set, yet they compare to contemporary Tamiya figures of the era. Big connectors join the parts to the sprues and pose the risk of damaging the parts when removing them.

Each figure is built with separate legs, two-piece torsos, separate arms and a separate head. All headcover is also separate, with two-piece chechia. These models are proportional, posed and detailed at least as well, if not better, than contemporary Tamiya figures.

Uniform details such as belts, harnesses, rank and unit insignias of Régiment de Tirailleurs sénégalais are molded on. While no detail for the various unit insignia of the Tirailleurs branch is molded, rank of the Capitaine is molded on his sleeves, while none are on the tirailleurs.

Individual Cartouchière ammo boxes are provided, as are two Bidon canteens and baïonnettes, Mousqueton Berthier 1892 M.16 carbines, and a Etui PA 35 pistol holster. The carbines are molded better than in the Alpine set yet still has 'soft' detail. Heller includes a dirt pile the tirailleurs rest upon and a base for the officer.

Instructions and painting
A folded instruction sheet displays a single exploded diagram for the assembly of each figure. It is printed in French, English, and German.

Twelve Heller paints are referenced, including two custom formulas to mix. However, unlike Italeri and Tamiya models of the era, no attempt was made to guide modelers in creating insignias.

While Tamiya was the leading 1/35 figure maker in the 1970s, Heller and other model companies filled the void of overlooked subjects that are not American, British, German or Russian. This Heller model set is of similar quality to 1970s Tamiya figures in the molding and detail department.

Softer detail and lack of any insignia information for model painters are my gripes.

I am otherwise impressed with this set and equally interested in sampling more of these sets. Happily recommended if you can find this set.

* Wikipedia. Senegalese Tirailleurs. [Web.] 27 February 2013.

Military insignia of French Tirailleurs sénégalais: you can see these at Click here for additional images for this review, below.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Good detail and molding.
Lows: Softer detail and lack of any insignia information for model painters are my gripes.
Verdict: A commendable set of unique WW II French army soldiers.
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 137
  PUBLISHED: Mar 13, 2013
  NATIONALITY: French S. Territories

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


Thanks Frederick, I had a chance to purchase the Koufra and Samaur (SP?) diorama sets in a little store in Bitsche, France back in the late '80s. They are really neat and the Koufra Diorama set has a really nice Camel and rider figure, the Senegalese figure set reviewed here, two Arab soldiers and a mule. You can purchase the entire set, under the SK Model label at: LINK I have had good luck with this hobby shop in Poland and the prices are unbelieveable. They used to have all of the ex-Heller kits...but now it is more hit and miss. I would recommend these figures of WWII French subjects as they are pracically the only injection molded French figures available.
MAR 15, 2013 - 01:03 AM

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