Sherman Basics: Basic Markings for Sherman Tanks

Published: November 26th, 2012     
Product Package
Product Package
Reviewed by: Andrew Birkbeck - IPMS# 27087
Scale: 1/35
Price: $7.95
Product / Stock #: AR35362
Product provided by: Archer Fine Transfers

Over the years, I have discovered there are four ways to apply the required markings to my military models: first, and most obviously, the water slide decals that come in almost every commercially available model kit; second, one can, of course, hand paint one's own markings, provided you have the high degree of skill this requires; third, there are various forms of masks - photo etched versions or various forms of tape masks; and finally, there are dry rub transfers, the subject of this review.

Each type of marking has pros and cons. The pros of water slide markings are that the kits you have purchased come with a selection of markings right in the box, and the modeler also has a decent range of generic aftermarket markings, and often vehicle specific markings. Water slide markings are also relatively forgiving to apply, in that you don't have to drop the decal exactly where you need it to stick; you usually can place it in the approximate position, and then slide it around until you are happy with its location. The cons are that said kit decals come with a clear carrier film as well as the actual layer of ink for the markings themselves. This often makes the decal thick, and so can be seen to be proud of the surface unless the modeler goes to great lengths to bury the decals in layers of gloss clear paint. And a coat of gloss clear must also be applied to the model before the water slide decals are laid down, otherwise silvering (reflective air bubbles trapped between the decal and the painted surface) will almost certainly take place.

With the various masks out there, these have to be positioned precisely, but at least with the photo etched ones these can be laid down, then lifted up again fairly easily should you find they aren't positioned quite correctly the first time. They are also reusable, at least the PE ones are. Not so much the tape mask type, which suffer from being less user-friendly when it comes to trying to lift them up if you initially get them placed cockeyed. Another problem I have had with them is that the paint can run under the mask if it is applied too wet, or if I haven't burnished the tape mask down well enough.

Hand painting? Forget it, I am not artistic enough, nor do I have a particularly steady hand when it comes to holding a paint brush.

Which leaves dry transfers: these must be purchased as an aftermarket product. I have yet to find a mass market kit manufacturer who includes them as part of the kit. The pros of the dry transfer are that there is no clear decal film, so the markings are super thin. They are easier to line up than masks because they have a rigid backing paper that is only temporarily tacked down prior to application, via simple low tack tape. The one con I have experienced is that they are a little intimidating when it comes to applying them over raised detail. That said, Archer has the widest range of dry transfers on the market today, of extremely high quality, and as you will see, provide a ton of help when it comes to supplying the modeler with instructions on how to apply their range of transfers.

The Sherman Basics sheet measures 3.5 by 4.5 inches in size, and is crammed to capacity with basic Sherman markings, as the title indicates: 9 US Star national insignia markings in 4 different sizes, side hull registration numbers, both early- and late-war styles, together with bumper codes. The instructions that come with the set are simple yet very thorough and informative as to how the transfers are to be laid out on your model. As a relative novice when it comes to the history of Sherman markings, I found these instructions very informative indeed.

But when it comes to the actual application of dry transfers to a model, Archer truly shines; by going to their web site, the modeler finds four extremely useful video tutorials on dry transfer application at http://www.archertransfers.com/PAGE_Instructions.html

The first video provides an overview as to what dry transfers are and the correct tools necessary for the successful application of dry transfers. The following three videos then delve into the process in more detail. A moving picture with voice overlay is worth a million printed words, so please go directly to the Archer Fine Transfer site and check these out for yourself.

In conclusion, AFT provides the armor modeler with a huge range of extremely useful dry rub transfers, each at an affordable price. The instructions that came with the Sherman basic sheet were very enlightening, and the application videos referenced above are superb. My thanks to Archer Fine Transfers for allowing IPMS USA to review this excellent product.

  • Dry transfer decal
    Dry transfer decal

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