In-Box Review
SS Shoulder Boards - Infantry
German SS Shoulder Boards for Infantry Units
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]


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):

Infantry: white Waffenfarbe
Panzers: pink Waffenfarbe
Artillery: red Waffenfarbe
Panzergrenadiers: green Waffenfarbe
Recce: ocher Waffenfarbe

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.
Highs: The usual superb Archer quality. All the shoulder boards you need for any enlisted man or officer.
Lows: Too many officer ranks and not enough enlisted men.
Verdict: Highly-recommended for putting the perfect touch on your 1/35th scale figures.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: FG35043A
  Suggested Retail: $12.95
  PUBLISHED: May 06, 2011

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 Bill Cross (bill_c)

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright ©2021 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. All rights reserved.


These look great and saves frustration in one way but are difficalt to work with you must use hi quality scotch tape and secure in position then rub comes in handy when your doing a dio of a large gun crew werkin an 88 or large morser
MAY 06, 2011 - 03:44 PM
In my capacity as editor, I'm going to step in here and say that Brian, you should disclose your role as one manufacturer commenting on the products of another. Woody has answered your criticisms, so I would ask you to stop beating dead horses-- in the case of the shoulder board background color, it is black as Woody has pointed out. If you have any new critiques, then make them. Otherwise, let's dispense with the back-and-forth tennis match. Your own company's decal set does not include the embroidery, and those who want the Edelweiss patch can find it here. Steve, your observations don't in any way undermine the quality of the set, or IMO limit their application. LSAH and GD add-ons exist, and perhaps other manufacturers include the embroidery, though I don't know of any sets that do. That's probably a refinement that we will have to wait for, or perhaps enough of y'all will petition Archer to do a set of "classic" SS embroidery. Whether the majority of modelers prefer one SS unit or another is a matter of speculation (I imagine you're right, but it's just two men's opinion, not even 2 1/2 men, LOL). While this set might not get you all the way there, it's certainly closer than without them. My review of the set stands. I invite each reader to draw their own conclusion.
MAY 07, 2011 - 09:14 AM
Ohhhh, you're selling something similar and bashing Archer products. How classy is that? I have more important thing to do than listen to your self aggrandizing and it seems like having the last word is a big deal with you so I'm going to show you what a nice guy I am and let you have your fun. Go on now, jump. Woody Vondracek, owner ARCHER FINE TRANSFERS
MAY 09, 2011 - 03:49 AM
All of our uniform patches come with our Wet Medium Paper which allows you to apply them like a waterslide decal without the aggravation of clear or silvering. Instructions for its use can be found on our website HERE.
MAY 09, 2011 - 03:53 AM
Over and out
MAY 09, 2011 - 03:54 AM
Hi Brian, Archers Transfers can be used wet or dry as Bill points out in the review, the wet medium paper probably being easier for something this small. Cheers Al
MAY 10, 2011 - 07:19 AM
All right, gents, I think we've established that Archer Transfers and Alliance Model Works won't be sending Christmas cards to one another.... It seems to me there are several issues here. Let's not beat them to death: 1.) decals vs. dry transfers: whatever one thinks of the process of using wet medium paper with dry transfers, it works amazingly well. If you haven't tried it (I have), don't knock it. And the WTP is free with the transfers; 2.) price: Archer's products ARE expensive. But they are researched by some of the more-knowledgeable folks in the hobby (Roddy MacDougall in this case). If you think Alliance Model Works' decals are a better value, then have at it. I haven't been supplied with any review copies and can't comment. I don't particularly want to hear about these decals from one of the company's reps. 3.) knocking your competitor's products: Praising your own company's efforts over a competitor's is, at least in my book, base and unseemly. Put your products up for a comparison by the unbiased, or please be quiet. BTW, I don't review all Archer products, and have several sets out for review by contributors, just in case someone might think I'm biased. 4.) Let's let the reviews or user comments speak for themselves. If you haven't used Archer uniform transfers, then please refrain from speculation. If you have, then let's see some examples. I find them very easy to work with. Do you? I hope I've made my point?
MAY 11, 2011 - 09:44 AM
While I have never used any Archer transfers to date I do find the German insignia sets very appealing, and I am considering giving some of these sets a try sometime in the near future. As a complete newbie to dry transfer use and considering that Woody is here and actively participating in these discussions could I suggest/request that he considers sending in a feature on their application methods to get the most from them. I request this as I would hate to buy them and then bugger up their application. I do understand that this is available on Archer’s website but I would like to see it on this site as well with links to that feature from the reviews.
MAY 12, 2011 - 04:32 AM
In reply to Bill's request, I've used Archer Transfers, both the Dry and Wet method. I think they are great, they have one of the most extensive range of decals around and provide many items not touched by others. Must I always use archer transfers well no, I used whatever is appropraite to the build, but their range is excellent. I'd agree they can be expesive but if you are looking for something unique then it is good that someone does provide such a wide variety. I'd like to see some of their sets have greater quanity but that's only becaue I tend to build a lot of figuers and vehicles from the same unit. A slightly larger sheet of wet medium would be handy. Keep up the good work guys. Al
MAY 12, 2011 - 04:51 AM

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