One of the techniques the Nazis used to capture the imaginations of the German people was their elaborate use of pageantry and ritual. Their ornate, often baroque unit standards and placards, propaganda festivities and appeals to Germanic myth were echoed in their usage of symbols in most aspects of everyday life. That same effusion of ritual and symbols was carried over to the new military establishment created after Hitler's seizure of power.
All military establishments employ symbols and markings, if nothing else to delineate rank and keep sorted out the various branches of service. The Soviet Red Army tried dispensing with ranks and other markings in the interest of communist ideals, only to return to them later with a vengeance. The Nazis decided early on to put their stamp on the army, right down to the oath all soldiers swore to Adolf Hitler, not the nation.
Some of the markings used by the Germans run counter to military logic, including their extensive use of helmet placards that stand out in the field. The old “coal shovel” helmets of the First World War were carried over to the Wehrmacht in slightly modified design, yet carried two shields, one on each side: a national placard and a branch of service symbol. For the SS, it was a bright red shield with a white ball containing a swastika, while for the army, navy and air force, it was a tricolor national placard paired with an eagle holding the swastika.
The "New Order" in Germany wanted the whole world to know about its arrival.
As part of their superb series of uniform patches and markings, Archer Fine Transfers has a set of German helmet markings that work well with their other patches and shoulder straps, some of them already reviewed here:
Heer Shoulder Boards - Panzer
Heer Uniform Patches
SS Uniform Patches
What you get
The usual Archer glassine envelope contains:
1 sheet of helmet markings for all branches of service
1 sheet of Wet Medium Paper
A sheet explaining the various branch insignias
This set has 120 emblems on it in five different designs:
Red shield with swastika
Regular Army, Luftwaffe & Kriegsmarine:
Tricolor national shield
eagle holding swastika (regular army)
Luftwaffe eagle (both regular units and paratroopers)
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. The research was by Roddy MacDougall
, a regular with Archer. 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. I have used the Archer Wet Medium Paper on other projects, and the results are truly eye-opening: if you have never used dry transfers or have been afraid to try them, this should push you over the edge.
The set comes with an instruction sheet showing which ones go with which branches of service, as well as the advice that after 1942, most helmets used only the branch of service emblem and not the national shield.
These are the kinds of detailing that are simply beyond the painting skills of most humans. I have seen waterslide decals that include helmet markings, but there is always the question of selvage and silvering from decals. These transfers go on without any borders or silvering, and make the process of including the insignias so simple, I can’t imagine not using them.
Our thanks to Archer Fine Transfers for providing this review sample. Please mention you saw them on Armorama when ordering.