Archer Fine Transfers has been a player in the aftermarket armor markings game for a long time now. They do have some traditional water-slide decals available, but their bread and butter is dry transfers. For those of you who do not know what dry transfers are, they are markings that you do NOT have to use water to apply, but instead you gently rub them on with a blunt tool or object, when they are dry. You can use Archerís dry transfers wet, but you would have to take additional steps to do so.
The benefit of using dry transfers over water-slide decals is that dry transfers are usually more realistic in appearance because they appear painted on like real vehicle markings. This better appearance is due to the transfers not having excess carrier film and also being (generally) thinner than water slide decals. Thus, transfers will snuggle down and hug the object better.
Another of Archerís latest releases is a set to represent vehicles of the 1st, 2nd or 3rd Batteries of the 197th Sturmgeschutz Battalion. The set provides transfers to mark Stug III Ausf. B,C,D,E and/or F vehicles during the early war period. Although there is no indication in the instructions, the markings are good for 1941 through about early 1942 or so. Archer states the sheet has enough transfers to complete two vehicles, but it appears to me that you could complete 3 if youíre careful. You can use these transfers on any of the myriad 1/35 early Stug III model kits, specifically the Dragon and Tamiya models.
Right after I received this set of transfers, I was notified that there was a problem with the accuracy of the tactical symbol markings. In a couple days I promptly received a correction addendum with the new markings. The Stug tactical symbols in this set consist of a vertical line above an oval, with two shorter vertical lines parallel and flanking the longer line. The ovals contain a number such as Ď1/197í which would represent a vehicle in the 1st the Battery of the 197th Stug battalion number. Apparently, the battalion numbers in the oval portion of the tactical markings were printed incorrectly as 1/192, 2/192 and 3/192. So, if you have or receive a set with Ď192í in the tactical marking ovals, you should contact Archer Fine Transfers directly for the corrected markings.
To be completely honest my references about early Stug IIIís in general, and on Stug Abt 197 in particular, are pretty limited. But from what I can determine based upon my personal references as well as internet based information, they look like they accurately represent 197 markings of the early war period. Furthermore they should be able to represent any of the 18 vehicles ( 3 batteries of 6 Stugs each) in Abt 197. Also, Archer is well known in the modeling community for producing highly accurate transfers of excellent quality. So, since I cannot find any information to the contrary, Iíll assume these markings are correct as well. You might think this is a cop-out on my part, but at least you know where I stand.
Quality of Decals/Transfers
The quality of this set of dry transfers is of the typical high quality of other Archer sets. The transfers are micro-thin and are printed completely in register with no color overrun. This set is printed in four colors: black, white, yellow and red. The colors are vibrant and the text represented is very clear.
Ease of Use
I did not use the entire set of these transfers, but I did use a couple to test them out. Basically, they were a treat to use and worked beautifully just like the other Archer sets Iíve used before. The transfers come off very nicely in that they donít come off too easily, yet you donít need to rub like a nut to remove them either. The transfers come off in a matte/flat finish with no excess glossiness. Lastly, they come off with no excess trim you would have to remove.
Remember also when using Archer transfer sets (and any other companyís dry transfers) you have to be extra careful when setting them up prior to application. If they are lined up incorrectly or in the wrong spot and you commence the application process, youíre out of luck. There is no moving them once they are applied, or even partially applied. This is one of the minor negative aspects of using all dry transfer markings, not just Archerís of course.
The instructions Archer provides for this transfer set are very good. They are in full color and show exactly which marking goes where. There is no confusion and they are very easy to use.
The Archer Fine Transfers Stug Abt 197 marking set is again up to Archerís high standard in quality and accuracy. If you want to build an early war Stug III in 197 markings, you are in luck as it is a nice one. Like most early war Stug markings, they arenít very colorful compared to mid to late war vehicles. However, they are more colorful than many early war markings and they adequately do the trick to help you make a nice looking Abt 197 Stug.
Thanks to Woody Vondracek and Archer Fine Transfers for the review sample.
Highs: This set is up to Archerís high standard in quality and accuracy. Also, these markings are a bit more colorful than many Stug III early war markings.Lows: Initial printing error with incorrect tactical symbol markings. Rectified with later printings and anyone with aVerdict: