Whatever your feelings about the Waffen-SS, it’s difficult to model WW II German AFVs and figures and not include them at some point. The SS units usually had the newest and best tanks, half-tracks and other AFVs, and their distinctive uniforms and markings make them stand out from the regular Heer
(army) units. Archer Fine Transfers has captured this unique look in a series of uniform patches, shoulder boards and helmet markings for 1/35th scale figures. This review will look at the infantry shoulder boards.
The Wehrmacht used these “boards” (really stiff fabric flaps attached at the shoulder) to supplement the collar tabs showing rank and/or membership in the various branches of service (infantry, panzers, etc.). As in the army, the SS had five major branches of service: infantry, artillery, armor, mechanized infantry (Panzergrenadiers) and reconnaissance. Each had its own shoulder straps.
Again, as in the army, the branches were classified by colored piping around the edges of the straps known as the Waffenfarbe
(literally the "weapon color" but with a meaning closer to "branch of service color"). These colored straps of course created esprit de corps
, but also allowed for a quick recognition of which group a soldier belonged to (and presumably whether he had to obey your orders or not):
What you get
1 sheet of transfers
1 sheet of Wet Medium Paper
An instruction sheet
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.
One caveat to the set is that some SS units had individual versions of these shoulder boards. For example, the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler
had shoulder boards with "AH" in ornate embroidered lettering. It would, of course, be beyond the scope of a general set like this one to include such variants. As always, check your references. Archer sells a supplementary set that handles LSAH and Großdeutschland
Whatever your opinion of the Waffen-SS, they make up a significant portion of the wartime history of the Wehrmacht, and their soldiers were considered among the crack troops of the Third Reich. Kit & figure manufacturers have devoted a significant number of offerings to them, so Archer’s uniform markings are a superlative way of representing them accurately 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 Reconnaissance Shoulder Boards
Waffen-SS Panzer Grenadier 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.