Have you ever tried adding markings to M18 Smoke Grenades? I remember being young and naïve modeler, trying to achieve a miracle painting the tiny grenade markings by hand… only to fail miserably every single time. Printing my own decals was not an option since very few printers actually print white. I was stuck... until now.
Arms Corps Models recently released several sets of smoke grenade decals in various scales: 1/10, 1/16, 1/20 and 1/35. This review covers their 1/35 scale set.
The set is packed in a zip-lock bag and includes two identical decal sheets and instructions. The decal sheets are printed using Alps MD-5500 printer on "Experts Choice" decal paper. Each sheet consists of 36 decals and, with two decal sheets included, the number of decals totals to 72 decals per set. The instructions provide basic tips for working with decals, and also include painting guide and decal placement scheme... definitely a very useful addition to the set.
The set includes decals for:
• M18 Smoke Grenade
• M8 Smoke Grenade
• M6 Riot-Control Hand Grenade
• M14 TH3 Incendiary Hand Grenade
Chemical and gas grenades include smoke grenades and incendiary grenades. Unlike explosive grenades, these are designed to burn or to release a gas, not to explode.
Smoke grenades are canister-type grenades used for ground-to-ground or ground-to-air signaling, target or landing zone marking, or for screening unit movements. The grenade body consists of a sheet steel cylinder with a few emission holes on top and at the bottom to allow smoke release when the grenade is ignited. The M8 Smoke Grenade
is filled with hexachloroethane (HC), a chemical agent that produces a thick white smoke when burned. M8 featured light green body with black markings and white top. Since HC produces harmful hydrochloric fumes, the filler in the modernized M83 Smoke Grenade
is terephtalic acid (TA). The M83 features forest green body with a white top, white markings and a blue band. The M18 Smoke Grenade
is visually similar to M8 but with a different type of filler. M18 was produced with four colors of smoke: yellow, green, red and violet. M18 featured olive drab body, single white band and white markings, with the top painted yellow, green, red or violet to indicate the smoke color.
Riot-control grenades are filled with non-lethal chemical agents and used in crowd control situations. The M6 Grenade
contains a combination mixture of chloroacetophenone (CN - tear gas) and diphenylaminochloroarsine (DM - sneeze gas). CN-DM is an irritant to both eyes and respiratory system. This grenade features gray body with a single red band and red markings.
Incendiary hand grenades are used to destroy equipment. Working off the intense and violent reaction of the thermite filler, these grenades can damage, immobilize or destroy vehicles, weapon systems, shelters, or munitions. The M14 TH3 Grenade
is filled with thermite (TH3) mixture and features gray body with purple markings and a single purple band.
All these grenade types were used extensively during Vietnam War and since. The M8 and M6 are no longer common to the US inventory though.
The decal sheet represents the markings of the aforementioned grenades well and the print is absolutely fantastic. To help with decal identification, the sheet is enumerated:
#1 - 16 markings for M18 Smoke Grenades (violet, red, yellow and green, 4x each)
#2 - 4 markings for M14 TH3 Incendiary Grenade
#3 - 4 markings for M8 Smoke Grenade (white markings with blue band)
#4 - 4 markings for M6 Riot-Control Grenade
#5 - 4 markings for M8 Smoke Grenade (black markings)
#6 - 4 markings for M8 Smoke Grenade (white markings)
My research showed that #3 markings most probably depict M83, not M8. Thus the text should read AN-M83, Smoke, TA, instead of AN-M8, Smoke, HC. A minor thing actually and I doubt anyone could actually spot the difference on such a small decal. The bigger problem is the fact the lettering should be white and only the bend blue (correctly depicted in Arms Corps 1/16 & 1/20 scale decal set reviewed here
The #6 represents markings of the M8 Dummy Smoke Grenade. So, if one wants to portray the M8 Smoke Grenade as issued in Vietnam, I would suggest using #5 markings exclusively.
Using the decals
I'm sure you all used water slide decals before so I won't go into details here. The 1/35 scale grenades were painted and gloss coated. The decals were cut from the sheet using a sharp blade and carefully positioned on the grenades. The decal film is very thin and the markings conformed well to grenades. After applying the decal setting solution, and making a thin dark wash to accentuate the details, a matt coat was airbrushed. As for the finishing, I would suggest checking the references before weathering the smoke grenades... the variations between the markings are enormous; different text fonts, band thickness, etc. but most of these were pretty faded and chipped. The possibilities for realistic finishing in-scale are endless.
For this review, I also used some photos of the 1/35 scale figures made by Joe Grafton. Joe is working on a big Vietnam diorama which will feature a number of US Grunts, heavily converted from various figure sources and super-detailed with loads of extras... including Arms Corps smoke grenade decals. The difference these decals make on finished figures definitely shows well on these photos. Great work, Joe!
For me, it really is a no-brainer... these decals are worth every penny. They are easy to work with and are bound to give perfect results every single time. Also, with 72 decal markings, this set provides a great value for the money. So, if you are thinking of adding markings to your 1/35 scale smoke grenades, look no further… this is definitely a set for you.
Army ROTC training manual