In-Box Review
Modern U.S. National Insignias
Modern U.S. National Insignias- Black Stars
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by: Jason Bobrowich [ LEOCMDR ]


The 1970s created many unique camouflage schemes for NATO forces staged in Europe at a state of readiness to fight off an anticipated attack by the Soviet Union & Warsaw Pact forces. One of the most unique camouflage schemes was created by the US Army Modern Army Selected Systems Test, Evaluation and Review (MASSTER): this scheme was commonly known as the MASSTER camouflage or the 7th Army scheme, and was trialed by the 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division in Germany and by the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd (US) Armoured Division in the U.S. The multi-colored, hard-edged camouflage schemes were applied at a unit level, and tested between 1972 and 1973, though some vehicles may have remained in the scheme until the late 1970s.

The very visible and easily-identifiable white stars denoting the U.S. national insignia commonly seen on vehicles were ordered to be painted in black as part of MASSTER. As well, bumper codes and vehicle registration numbers were also to be painted in black, but vehicles combining black stars and white bumper codes could commonly be seen. The final MASSTER report stated that "eliminating, or painting in lusterless black, the star and administrative markings on a vehicle is the most important factor in reducing its visibility."

Simple yet effective the black stars would become history as part of MASSTER.

The larger black stars could also be seen on single-colour vehicles such as the M60A1 prior to the MASSTER scheme.

As with anything in the military, the size of the stars was regulated based on the type of vehicle. However, there were some variations where hand-painted black stars could be seen on vehicles instead of the more consistent stenciled black ones.

Archer Fine Transfers has created a set of markings that would be perfect for a MASSTER or a solid green schemed 1/35 vehicle.

the set contains:

The set includes the following:

2 x 36" stars for M60/M60A1/M60A3 tanks.
This is somewhat inaccurate, in that the M60A3 only used the small 3" stars in Forest Green, MERDC, or the three colour NATO scheme.

10 x 16" stars and 9 x 20" stars for the M113, M577, and M551 Sheridan.

the review

In reviewing reference images, the 16" and 20" stars can also be seen on the M548, M48 Chaparral, M88, M114, M106A1, M578, M110 and pretty much all other vehicles painted in MASSTER in the 1970s. It appears as well that the 20" star would be suitable for the glacis plate of the M60A1.

As with all Archer products they require a bit of preparation and foresight by the modeller to apply them correctly and to ensure they seat and adhere properly. Instructions for proper application are included in the package. My review sample had one of the 20” and 16” stars damaged and separated from the backing paper but there are plenty there as spares.


This set is a must have if you want to create an accurate MASSTER scheme and you don’t have black star waterslide decals. The markings for sure fill a gap in some lesser-known, yet very unique and important Cold War U.S. national insignias.

This set is also a terrific supplement to Archer’s previous set AR35322 of smaller 3", 6", and 12" black stars.

Here are links to fantastic sets of images of MASSTER scheme and single color green vehicles showing the black stars.

Army Years

US Army

7th Army

Photo database

Panzerbaer: MASSTER-Tarnanstrich

You mean the US Army wasn't always Olive Drab?

For additional excellent reference material on the MASSTER scheme and the black stars, I highly recommend Tankograd No. 3017 MASSTER, MERDC, DUALTEX.
Highs: A great assortment of black stars for multiple projects.
Lows: It would have been nice to have included more than just two of the 36" stars.
Verdict: A great addition if you are finishing a project in the single colour or MASSTER scheme.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: AR35363
  Suggested Retail: $6.95
  Related Link: Archer Fine Transfers
  PUBLISHED: Sep 23, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Archer Fine Transfers!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Jason Bobrowich (LeoCmdr)

Copyright ©2021 text by Jason Bobrowich [ LEOCMDR ]. All rights reserved.


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