Noted military history and modeling Illustrator Ron Volstad describes Wehrmacht insignia as a subject "to make the stoutest of us run away screaming like a little girl."
The name Wehrmacht ("armed forces") included all branches of the German military, including the Luftwaffe, navy and the Waffen-SS, but it is often mistakenly used to describe the non-SS forces. The correct term for the regular army is Heer
. All branches of the German military in World War 2 used very specific identification markings on their uniforms, as well as the usual badges, unit insignia and medals & awards common to all armies.
What makes modeling German figures in 1/35th scale something of a minor nightmare is the usage of a wide and sometimes confusing array of shoulder “boards” and collar tabs to show rank and branch of service: infantry, mountain troops, artillery/FlaK and motorized infantry (Panzergrenadiers). To make matters more confusing, the Waffen-SS and Panzerwaffe
(tank crews) both had their own markings (reviewed by me here
The shoulder straps present a particular problem for figure modelers because they aren't really boards, but stiff fabric loops attached at the shoulder. Along with the collar tabs (showing rank and membership in the various branches of service), both are difficult to cast in styrene without looking out-of-scale.
Alliance Modelworks has released sets of decals in 1/35th meant to handle most
situations for kitting-out German soldiers, including this set intended for members of the regular army or Heer
The set comes packed in the usual Alliance Modelworks poly bag with a stapled-on hang tag for display on a peg board. It contains:
1 sheet of decals
2 small frets of PE
1 sheet of instructions
Each of the branches of the various segments of the Wehrmacht had shoulder boards in specific colors (known as the Waffenfarbe
, literally the "weapon color" but the meaning being closer to "branch of service color"):
silver gray with white Waffenfarbe
Artillery (including FlaK batteries attached to other units):
green, but different shadesWaffenfarbe
AMW's solution to the vexing array of markings is to offer four sets with a simple, elegant idea: a set of decals that covers most, but not all situations
. At least enough to make the price of the set handle a wide variety of possibilities. The decals included here are helmet & cap eagles, sleeve patches & shoulder boards, various decoration ribbons (Iron Cross ribbons, plane destruction badges for FlaK crews, etc.), and a fret of PE with Iron Crosses, combat badges and even some shoulder straps for figures with poorly molded-on ones (a problem with some older figures).
The decals have excellent registration, and are easy to apply. You should make sure to use a good wetting solution; my new option is Gunze's Mr. Mark Setter followed by Mr. Mark Softer. Be sure to keep a sharp eye during application so the decals don't migrate off of raised surfaces like molded-on shoulder straps or collar tabs. When dry, be sure to cover with a protective clear spray to prevent abrasion or harm from washes or pigment application.
The set includes a sheet that lays out who gets what, and my only complaint would be that the various badges aren't identified. Do you know whether your figure should have the Tank Combat badge or the Tank Destruction badge? This site
will help you sort that out.
The set doesn't really deal with the differences between Early War markings (more elaborate and "fancy") and Late War ones. At this scale, I'm not sure how important that is, and AMW contends that variations in shoulder boards are a product of different construction methods over the course of production, washing, and other factors. They concede there are variations, but that it's impractical in this scale to include them in a sheet at this price. It's a debate that this review isn't going to settle, so check your references, and consult other options if this doesn't look like the answer for your needs.
For example, what exactly IS the correct color for Mountain troops vs. Panzergrenadiers? Both use a green Waffenfarbe
, but there is a debate about whether the US Army sowed confusion for historians when it transposed the yellow-green/lime green of the grenadiers with the medium green of the mountain troops in its manual covering the German army in WW 2. We won't go there.
As an added bonus, there are Edelweiß sleeve insignia, the symbol of the Gebirgsjäger
or mountain troops. While mountain troops get little attention from modelers, they actually were quite important during the war, both in the invasion of Crete and in Norway.
This set is a very good "one stop shopping" solution for finishing 1/35th regular army figures. I recommend this set highly. The quality of the decals is excellent, and the instructions mean you don't need volumes of research to complete a diorama's worth of figures. Reading is a good thing, but at this price, you can't really beat AMW's solution.
Thanks to Alliance Model Works for providing this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.