So you are working on the last details of your diorama of a PAK 40 in ambush being provided new ammo by an Opel Blitz? Everything is painted up to the greatest detail and not a chip is out of place. One of your scale modeler buddies casually strolls in to see how you are doing. Proudly you show him your work… No… the efforts of many a month of labour. The kind of stuff that your wife or girlfriend clearly doesn’t see the value in.
We have all been there.
And this friend of yours, who DOES recognize the blood, sweat and tears, the endless hours to make sure that even the paint colors of the ammo crates’ insides are pretty much RAL matched, just nods and tells you "man don’t those ammo crates look half boring. Couldn’t you have used some stenciling on them?"
You panic. "How could I have missed such a detail?" Luckily you haven’t glued them down yet so they are still accessible. But who creates decals to finish this month-long journey? Look no further: the answer is Archer Fine Transfers. Who for years has been the companion of the modeler to help them out with decal issues great and small. And now also with two very useful sets of waterslide decals to put on pretty much all sorts of 75 mm ammo crates.
All throughout WW2 the German 75mm gun played a very prominent role on the battlefield. It was used in tanks, tank hunters, anti-tank guns and on reconnaissance vehicles. It was available in 2 tastes: long and short. A lot of the earlier medium tanks like the Panzer IV and the Stug IIIs were equipped with the short version, but it could also be found on the Sd.Kfz. 250/8 (Stummel), the 251/9 (also called Stummel to make matters easier), The Sd.Kfz. 234 (to name a few). Later on in the war, the longer type made its appearance on the stage, and found its way to the battlefield installed in the later variants of Panzer IV, Stug III, and Panther. In the anti-tank gun role, the 75mm came in the form of the PAK 40, a name that struck fear in the hearts of many an Allied or Russian tanker.
Two sizes also means two sizes when it comes to ammo crates. Usually the ammo crates were marked with what kind of caliber was inside, the type of round, and also for what vehicle or gun it was.
The decal sets
Archer has two new sets of stencils (in black lettering & white) that will cover pretty much all of the boxes used by the Wehrmacht. The decals come in a plastic bag with a folded piece of paper stapled to it.
Inside the bag is a decal sheet measuring 11cm high by 9 cm wide and an instruction sheet on A4 folded twice. The decals include:
3 variants of the long projectiles
2 variants of the short rounds
Along with some generic decals
2 types of weight indication decals
and the eagle & swastika that mark everything that was possession of the Reich.
This review took much longer than most reviews because of the thorough work put into comparing the decals to pictures of the crates in question over at Wehrmachts-Kisten
, a remarkable French (!) site which is a valuable reference source when it comes to everything the Wehrmacht used to transport ammo in.
The long rounds
In the set you will find five decals for cases that contain long 75 mm rounds. As was doctrine in the German army, they are marked with which type and for which gun they belong to. This marking tells you the following:
Patr. 7,5 cm Kw.K. 42 – Stu.K. 42
7,5 Pzr. Patr. 39/42 Kw.K. 42
Heeres-Mun. Ges. Gew. 19,5 Kg
"Patr." is an abbreviation for Patrone
, the German word for "cartridge" or "shell." The two indications mean it is ammo that can be used on either the SturmKanone or the Panther gun.
On the sheet you will also find eight decals which are for long 7,5 cm shells that were crated purely for the "Stu.K 42." These decals state "Patr. 7,5cm Stu.K. 42."
The last of the long variant decals on the sheet is that specifically created for the PAK 40. These six decals state:
"Patr. 7,5 cm Pak 40
7,5cm Sprgr. Patr. Pak 40"
And the shorts
There are two types of decals for short 75 mm rounds; these were usually stored three to a wooden crate.
The first is a set of eight decals stating: "Patr. 7,5cm Kw.K. 40."
The second variant has 12 decals and was the more common one seen on crates of short rounds. The markings state:
"Patr. 7,5cm Kw.K.
u. StuG 7,5cm K"
A good example of this crate can be seen in this link
Common to all crates
Additional to the markings above, you get some generic decals which can be placed on a lot of crates. These include four decals saying Zundmittel
("fuses"); four decals saying Werkzeugkasten
("toolbox"); four with Vorratskasten
("supply box"); and an additional six Nicht Werfen!
("Do not throw!"). Some of these decals are not limited to ammo crates alone, as it is known that for instance tool boxes and supply boxes were also marked accordingly on vehicles.
We move on to the bottom half of the sheet where you will find two types of weight indications. You get 12 decals stating "Heeresmunition Kg. and 12 more elaborate Heeresmunition gesamtgew. _ _ _ _ Kg." Heeresmunition
basically means "army ammo" (to distinguish it from the Luftwaffe or the Navy), then followed by the weight in kilograms. And it is a marking that can be found on a lot of the ammo crates in use by the German army. Over the past few days I have seen a lot of ammo crates, and one thing that stands out for me is that the weight indication stencil used on most of the crates I have seen so far is way, way smaller than what is offered by Archer. I think that it could very well be a quarter of the size it is now.
You also get 37 eagles & swastikas complete with a year beneath it, which the German army stamped on everything that was (or what they thought of) their possession. The years go from 1941 to 1942.
The A4 sheet with the instructions is very clear. It gives an overview of the meanings of all the terms that are on this decal sheet, as not everybody is fluent in the German language. It also gives a bit of information on colors, and in which situation you use white stenciling or black. And it gives a rundown of how to get the best results applying the decals.
Looking back at this review, which has been halted for a while to discuss matters of size between me and the researcher of Archer responsible for these sets, I have to say that from my point of view, I don’t totally agree with the opinions that came out of it. I have done a lot of background checking on ammo crates - not only surviving examples, but trying to figure out how crates of this kind are produced. I found patterns and guidelines which make the decals on this sheet on the large side. The researcher, who I have had a good chat with some weeks ago at an event here in Holland, said he could back up all the decals with photographs he had taken, and that exceptions were the rule with the German army during WW2. And I think I will leave it at that.
Thanks to Archer Fine Transfers for providing these review samples. Please say you saw them reviewed on Armorama when ordering.