US Markings Sets
Archer Fine Transfers
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
Those who did not attend the AMPS 2000 show in April 2000 missed a really fascinating and useful seminar by Woody Vondracek, who is the owner and chief employee of Archer Fine Transfers, into how these excellent markings are produced and how to use them at least three different ways.
As Woody noted in his short history of dry transfers, they were originally designed only for use by graphics artists on layouts and not designed to fit on three-dimensional objects. As a result, he uses a special layer of material which is elasticized to fit around bumps and grooves. Woody brought a short video which showed how each sheet is produced, and all of the steps involved. One sheet produced on its own takes up to 17 minutes of hands-on activity to produce to the point of letting it set for 2-3 days prior to packing.
Woody also demonstrated several good ways to use his transfers:
Dry – best for flat, easy to reach surfaces. (Note: all surfaces must be CLEAN, not necessarily smooth, for the transfers to work correctly. The transfers are then burnished onto the surface from the carrier sheet and once in place, rubbed again with the protector sheet on top of them (or any convenient piece of clean paper, such as bond paper) to get a tight adherence with the surface.
Wet/Dry – best for irregular surfaces such as Zimmerit or gratings. The transfer is attached to a sheet of decal paper (paper with adhesive but NO clear film). Once it is transferred, the markings are then soaked in water until they release from the decal paper. The marking is then floated into position and blotted with a makeup sponge. This presses it down into the grooves or notches and assures a good fit. The marking can then be further enhanced with decal setting solution such as MicroSolve or Solvaset (Woody was using the Micro product).
Wet – best for long complex marking sets, such as specific vehicle numbers or serials, names, etc. The transfers are rubbed down onto a sheet of decal paper WITH clear film and then lightly coated with Micro Liquid Decal Film. The transfer is then cut from the sheet and used as a normal waterslide (decal) transfer.
Also recommended for use were: standard wooden cuticle pushers from beauty aids sections of drug stores, with a pointed tip and a flat tip; makeup sponges; a hard block for use in burnishing the transfers to other media such as decal paper; and a small paint brush for use with the wet/dry method to float the transfers into place.
For this show, Woody and his wife Jenny (who appears to be the packer, shipper, and management) had a vast selection of new markings for sale. The five sets listed above answer many of my personal wishes (and no, I had nothing to do with them!) as they cover many of my favorite subjects.
When the 2nd and 3rd Armored Divisions came ashore in Normandy, they were very difficult to tell apart at a distance as both divisions used nearly identical turret and side number codes. The codes were in yellow (recently confirmed by Steve Zaloga and others from newly discovered color photographs of the units at that time) and very prominent for the first six weeks of the campaign in France. Beginning with August 1944 many of the markings were painted out as they were found to draw the attention of German antitank gunners to the vehicles which was not a pleasant thing to do.
No one has yet encountered the regulation governing these codes, but there is a pattern which both divisions appear to have used to differentiate the regiments from one another. The 32nd (3rd) and 67th (2nd) Armored Regiments appear to have used the markings in a split fashion, with the stars used as dividers between the company code (letters) and the individual number. The 33rd (3rd) and 66th used them with a dash. The 36th and 41st Armored Infantry Regiments used them with dashes as well, or stacked with the letter above the number.
The companies all used a single letter (A to I) with some other letters used for specific vehicles and functions. The reconnaissance company used "R", the maintenance companies "M", and the battalion headquarters a digit (1, 2 or 3 followed by a dash and the vehicle's number). Regimental headquarters vehicles appear to be marked with a "P". Note: all this is based on observation, as the orders and regs are apparently no longer extant. One difference between 2AD and 3AD is that 2AD tanks used the flat plate type track links (i.e. T51 non-reversible) and 3AD used rubber chevron T48 track. This apparently was a division commander's order, as one order does exist for 2AD in which General Harmon orders all tracks in 2AD replaced with T54 type steel chevron track to provide the tanks with better traction during the fall of 1944.
The other sheets are excellently rendered markings for standard vehicles. New to the list are pre-formatted generic US registration numbers for tanks and other armored vehicles such as SP guns, halftracks, and tracked armored vehicles. Unless you need a precise match – and extra digits are provided to replace some of those on the sheet – they fill the bill pretty well. Both W and USA prefixes, as well as S suffixes, are also provided.
The bumper codes are also there, with generic prefixes set up make applying them easier. Researched by Kurt Laughlin, the markings are very thorough and will make life easier. Woody has also noted that after these sheets are done he will be switching to "number jungles" or mixed number rather than 0-9 runs to make setting them up on the model easier.
Overall, another great effort and one which definitely responds to need. Thanks to Woody and Jenny Vondracek for the review samples, and their time in presenting a very good seminar at AMPS 2000.
Cookie Sewell AMPS
Review Copyright © 2000 by Cookie