by: Stefan Halter [ ]
This is one of Decalcomaniacs’ older decal sheets (considering the item ID number). While it is mainly for Churchills, it also contains decals for a Sexton and some Stuarts. The set comes simply packaged in a plastic bag with one decal sheet and a letter size text-only-instruction.
Marking Options and Historical Notes
As this is an older set, it only references the venerable old Tamiya Churchill VII and any conversions to it. Of course it can also be used with the new AFV-Club kits. The set is based mostly on Osprey’s Vanguard “The Churchill Tank”. This is unfortunately out of print and I have seen comments doubting its accuracy, but as I can’t confirm this I will not pursue it any further. Some other references are mentioned but all are from between 1977 – 1980. I think this is unfortunate as there have been several releases on the subject of British Armor in the past 30 years and I would think that quite a bit of new information has surfaced over the years. For this review I used the Osprey book mentioned above as well as Concord’s “British Armor in Sicily and Italy” by Dennis Oliver. I also scanned several other titles but could not find any of the marking options provided in the set.
The first option of the set is for Churchill IV (NA75)s of A Squadron, 51st RTR in Italy. The instructions describe where to put the insignia, which serial numbers to use and which name was used for which tank. The set includes 5 names for A Squadron, 3 for B Squadron and also two for Stuart recces used by the Regiment. The markings are based on the color plate of the Osprey book and the description follows the color plate description of the Osprey book. The Concord book has a color plate of a vehicle of the same squadron. It shows not only more markings (such as for example the red-white-red identification squares), but also a different one: the Arm of Service (AoS) sign is 162, not 163 as in the decal sheet and the Osprey book. This is also confirmed by Armoredacron.com (http://www.armouredacorn.com/Reference/BAM/25 Tank Bde - complete.pdf) according to which the background would be green (not dark brown as in the decal sheet and the references used for this review). I’m not in a position to definitely say which one is correct, so more research will be needed here. Another thing to note is that A squadron also used regular Churchill IVs not just NA75s as suggested by the decal sheet.
Next are Churchills of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade: “Jester” (Churchill VI) of 4th Grenadier Guards of which I could not find any photos. According to the decal sheet the AoS is a white 152 on a red square whereas Armoredacron.com shows a black square. Again, I cannot say for sure which one is correct. “Mull” (Churchill V) is from 3rd Scots Guards and again I could not find a photo of it. The same comment as above applies for the AoS. “Eagle” and “Waterloo” are from 4th Coldstream Guards and the only photo I had was in the Osprey book, a view from behind with US paratroopers blocking the view of the turret. The AoS would be a 153 on red or black square but this is not provided in the decal sheet with the comment that it was covered with stowage in all photos. Also, there is no mention as to what Mk the Churchills are and I cannot tell from the photo I have.
The only Mk. III in the set is “Minden”, which was used in Tunisia with the 142 Regiment of the RAC. A color plate of this vehicle appears in the Osprey book and the decals conform to this. The decal sheet indicates the tank to be overall khaki Brown while the Osprey book indicates a middle bronze green with local mud over it. No AoS is included in the set and none is visible in the color plate.
“Castlerobin IV” is a Churchill VI of the North Irish Hussars during the attack on the Gothic Line in Italy in 1944. A color plate of this vehicle appears in the Osprey book and the decals conform to this, with the exception of the 4 that goes into the blue circle: This is either too small, too big or not on the sheet at all (due to the way the sheet is laid out it is not clear which – if any – of the white 4's in the set is meant for this version). No AoS is included in the set and none is visible in the color plate.
The last two options are two Churchill VII Crocodiles used by the 7th RTR in Korea. They carry the correct AoS markings for Korea as evidenced in a photo in the Osprey book. Also mentioned in the decal sheet instructions and clearly visible in the photo are an “A” and “A538” on the left front fender. This is however not included in the set, which is unfortunate.
The Sexton marking is for the 147th Field Regiment, 8th Armoured Brigade. They have the correct red and blue artillery AoS as well as the 8th Armoured Brigade fox insignia. Unfortunately, my library offered no picture of this vehicle so I cannot add any comments to the accuracy.
Last there is a marking option of a Stuart VI (M5A1) of the 21st Canadian Armored Regiment. I could not find any pictures of this vehicle either so I cannot comment on the accuracy. The instructions mention an allied recognition star on the turret roof; this is not provided in the set.
The decal sheet is printed on a continuous clear backing so each decal will have to be cut out individually. The decals are quite mixed and it can be hard to spot the right ones for your marking option, especially with the white decals which are hard to see on the light blue backing paper.
In my view the main issue with this set is its printing quality. Not only are some of the colors on a light side and the individual printing dots can be seen, they are also quite blurry along the edges. While the outside edges can be cut to remedy this, this can not be done at the inside edges of the individual colors, including the numbers on the AOS signs or the tank names. Some examples of decals that can hardly be called clearly printed are the 6th Guards “Sword and Shield”, the 51st RTR diabolo with maple leaf and the 8th Armoured Brigade fox. To give you a comparison, I have added a scan of the fox from a 40 year old decal sheet of the old Tamiya Matilda next to the Decalcomaniacs decal.
I tested a few of the decals on my trusty Quad guinea pig. Each decal has to be cut out individually so it depends on your cutting skills how much of the clear backing can be seen. Dip it in warm water and after a few seconds the decal comes off the backing sheet (personally I have never seen a decal that comes off so fast and easily). I applied my decals in the normal way I usually do on a coat of future with the help of micro sol. The decals themselves are flat when dry and the backing sheet is quite thin. Once you’ve added your flat clear coat, the decals can be weathered normally. On the photos at right you can see the effect after a simple weathering with pigments.
I am not convinced by this set mostly due to the printing quality which is simply not up to today’s standards. There are some doubts as to the accuracy and completeness of the set, not least due to the very old reference material used. On the other hand it is good to see a set of British markings and my personal favourites are the Korean War Churchills.
If you’re looking for a particular marking option and can’t find it anywhere else, you may consider this set. If you’re just looking for a good set of British markings I would look somewhere else. I know Decalcomaniacs can do better than this and hopefully they will some day provide us with a revised edition of this obviously older set.