Military types are usually quite anal.
They like their things organized, cataloged, and most of all, labeled.
The Wehrmacht was especially good at labeling its stuff, but it's surprising how hard it is to find the stenciling needed for recreating the ammo boxes, packing crates, hospital gear and other "stuff." Kit makers often include the boxes, but not the stencils. Who cares about tiny labels? I do. But what's a modeler to do?
(Cue the dramatic music)
Into this breach has stepped our friends at Archer Fine Transfers. They've issued a series of ten sheets of stencils in both black and white lettering that will go a long way towards organizing all the ammo your vehicles and dioramas could want.
what you get
Each sheet comes with dozens of stencils, and a brief informational sheet. There are black versions for unpainted boxes, and white versions for painted ones:
AR77001B & W: stencils for rifle cartridge cases, 2cm, 3.7cm and 5cm ammunition
AR77002B & W: stencils for 88mm boxes
AR77003B & W: stencils for 75mm long & short boxes
AR77004B & W: stencils for unpainted 100mm, 105mm and 150mm boxes
AR77005B & W: stencils for Nebelwerfer
In a departure for a company that is best-known for its dry transfers, these sheets are waterslide decals printed by Cartograf. They're so good, you don't really need to apply any Future or other gloss before applying, though the directions suggest a glossy surface.
As might be expected from a country whose industrial & military planners were told by Hitler to expect the war to start in the 1940s, German armaments factories often ended up using whatever was at-hand, resulting in a proliferation of containers for things like ammunition. Germany failed to standardize its weapons, largely due to the staggering amount of captured guns, tanks, rifles, etc. that all served in the Wehrmacht meat grinder. And to make matters worse, the armaments companies had a somewhat loose oversight, resulting in non-standard versions of the "same" caliber.
Take the legendary 88mm, for example. There is no STANDARD 88, as there not only were FlaK (anti-aircraft), PaK (anti-tank) and KwK (tank) versions of the gun, but even different guns: the Tiger I mounted the KwK 36, which fired a different, shorter shell than the Tiger II's KwK 43. To make things even more confusing for modelers, 88 rounds were shipped in wicker "baskets," at least two varieties of wooden cases, and three metal versions, too. Oy.
The good news is that each sheet has standard markings like Wehrmacht eagles, as well as individual markings specific to a particular variant, with enough items to mix & match for most contingencies (my favorite is "don't throw this!"). I also like Archer's decision to issue sheets peculiar to specific calibers; too many decal makers put out sheets with every imaginable caliber on it, meaning there are only a few decals for any particular ammo box. These sheets allow modelers to focus on a particular caliber, which is handy if you're showing a busy 88 with the ammo boxes piled up like crazy.
The quality of the printing is exceptional, and makes the stencils readable without magnification. On the close-up detail of the Wehrmacht eagles, I have blurred the image to protect Archer from counterfeiters. The original image is sharp enough to read without magnifications.
A very minor "quibble" with the sets is the lack of a placement guide. This is nearly impossible, especially on sets meant to retail for $7, because of the non-standardized nature of German ammunition stenciling. So Archer has kindly included a link on their website to the most comprehensive source for German containers
I've spent a lot of time lately on dioramas and "stowage" on vehicles. Stencils are an important part of recreating World War 2 in 1/35th scale. I can't recommend these sets too highly.
Thanks to Archer Fine Transfers for providing these review samples. Please be sure to mention you saw them reviewed here on Armorama when ordering from Archer.