Few groups in the history of WW II evoke as much fascination and horror as the Waffen SS. Admired for their ferocity as fighters, as well as feared and despised for their savagery, the SS inspire intense curiosity among both students of history and modelers. The colorful, distinctive uniforms and insignia of the various divisions makes them a challenging subject for figure modelers in particular. Archer Fine Transfers has devoted an entire series to the shoulder boards of the various elements of the Waffen SS:
silver gray with white Waffenfarbe
The Wehrmacht, including the Waffen-SS, used these “boards” (really stiff fabric loops attached at the shoulder) to supplement the collar tabs that showed rank and membership in the various branches of service (infantry, panzers, etc.). The branches were classified by color (known as the Waffenfarbe
, literally the "weapon color" but the meaning being closer to "branch of service color"). This review is for the Reconnaissance troops.
What you get
1 sheet of transfers
1 sheet of Wet Medium Paper
An instruction sheet
We often think of Recce units as glorified messengers or modern cavalry, but they as often as the advance guard for the division, and frequently absorb the same punishment on the battlefield. During the campaign in Greece in 1941, for example, the reconnaissance troops of the artillery section of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (LAH) led the attack through the Kleisouria Pass on Kastoria Lake that opened up the German advance to the Gulf of Corinth expelling the British from the Balkans. Their commander at the time was Kurt Meyer, whose nickname "Panzer Meyer" was earned before the war during a freak accident stemming from a prank intended for another soldier. So this release isn’t just a throw-away to fill out the complete set of SS shoulder boards, but an integral part of any rendering of these fighters in 1/35th scale.
One of the good things about modeling the Waffen-SS is their insignia remained constant throughout the Third Reich. With the regular army, there are early war and late war shoulder boards to choose, which requires some research into what the figures you’re modeling were wearing at that particular time. While the exigencies of war meant that some soldiers were undoubtedly wearing some EW items midway through the conflict, the lifespan of a garment was not such that you can use the EW markings for the Battle of Berlin. With the Waffen-SS, you can.
This set includes shoulder straps for forty-six figures starting with grunts (Schütze
or private”) all the way up to Standartenführer
(colonel). They will need to be coupled with the SS Uniform Patches set by Archer (reviewed here on Armorama
). The instruction sheet shows which rank goes with which straps, as well as the proper collar patches and sleeve ranks (also included in the Patches set). If your figure is wearing a helmet without camo covering, then you'll also need the German helmet insignias set
As with other Archer Fine Transfers uniform patches, these are among the best items in their catalog, both for the attention to detail and the precision of the execution. Once again, the research is by Roddy MacDougall
. This is the kind of detailing that is simply impossible to hand paint, and the few water-slide decals out there are infuriating to apply to figures this small. I have used the Archer Wet Medium Paper on other projects, and the results are truly eye-opening: if you have never used dry transfers or have been afraid to try them, this should push you over the edge.
The Wet Medium Paper isn’t a gimmick, it really is Archer’s recommended way of applying these transfers. Their website has simple instructions on how it’s done, but basically you apply the dry transfer to the Wet Medium Paper, then briefly soak it in water. The decal comes free then, and you simply guide it onto the place you want it. Unlike waterslide decals, there is no “selvage” or other transfer film to cause silvering.
With a wide array of light armored vehicles and motorcycles available in this scale, this set seems well-suited for adding that finishing touch to a recce unit build. Given the difficulty of painting these markings, these Archer sets are the perfect solution to the question of accuracy in this scale.
You can find the other Waffen-SS shoulder board reviews by clicking on the links below:
Waffen-SS Artillery Shoulder Boards
Waffen-SS Panzer Grenadier Shoulder Boards
Waffen-SS Infantry Shoulder Boards
Waffen-SS Armored Shoulder Boards
Our thanks to Archer Fine Transfers for providing this review sample. Please mention you saw them on Armorama when ordering.