While we know the Waffen-SS got the best equipment, we often hear very little about its artillery units. Thanks to Schiffer Publications' SS-Panzer-Artillery Regiment 1 Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler
by Thomas Fischer, I have uncovered a wealth of material about the artillery troops of the first and most-famous SS unit, Hitler's "Life Guards," the LSAH (my review of the book is here
The Waffen-SS started out as little more than street thugs grouped into a bodyguard for a charismatic rabble-rouser beer hall orator named Adolf Hitler. After the Nazis seized power, it grew rapidly under the political influence of its leader, Reichsführer
Heinrich Himmler. By the outbreak of WW 2, the Waffen-SS was a handful of regiments known as the SS-Verfügungstruppen (literally "troops available for use"). Their ferocity in combat and Himmler's support resulted in their growing to nearly 40 divisions by war's end, at least on paper.
The Waffen-SS used its own command and rank structure, but aped many of the customs of the regular German army, including the usage of shoulder boards for different ranks and branches of service (identified by colored piping along the edges). Little more than stiff fabric flaps attached at the shoulder, the boards supplemented the collar tabs all branches of the Wehrmacht used to denote rank and branch. As in the regular army, the Waffen-SS had five major subdivisions identified by colored piping (known as the Waffenfarbe
, literally the "weapon color" but with a meaning closer to "branch of service color"):
What you get
1 sheet of transfers
1 sheet of Wet Medium Paper
An instruction sheet
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.
But they are more than just the insignia, as Archer's Wet Medium Paper allows their application on small, tight surfaces in ways no waterslide decals can match. 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 the markings. 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 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. The good news is 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 complete line of other Waffen-SS shoulder board reviews by clicking on the links below:
Waffen-SS Reconnaissance Shoulder Boards
Waffen-SS Panzer Grenadier Shoulder Boards
Waffen-SS Infantry 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.