The German Military during World War Two was highly organized, so it is not a big surprise to know that even their Uniforms had very specific markings by service branch: the [/i]Heer[/i] (usually misidentified as the Wehrmacht, which actually refers to the entire armed forces); the Luftwaffe (Air Force, which also included the Fallschirmjäger or paratroops); The Kriegsmarine (Navy) and finally, the so-called “elite troops”: the Waffen-SS. All three regular services were provided with two types of shoulder boards: one sewn onto the uniform itself, the other a slip-on type. The latter was discontinued after 1942. But all three had one common feature: color piping. This means that each branch of service could be easily identified by their particular color code, with a dozen different ones within the army alone:.
1.) White for infantry
2.) Yellow for signal/communications units and cavalry;
3.) Red for artillery or AA (or FlaK);
4.) Pink for Panzertruppen (armored units)
5.) Moss green for Panzergrenadiere (mechanized infantry)
6.) Yellow green for mountain troops and Jäger (lit. “hunters”), a light infantry
7.) Dark green for Polizei Einsatztruppen (special police units infamous as the extermination squads operating the mobile gas vans in the Soviet Union)
8.) Brown for armored reconnaissance
9.) Orange for Feldpolizei (military police) and mechanized cavalry
10.) Interlaced black & white for Pioniere (engineers);
11.) Bright blue for transport units
12.) Dull blue for medical troops
In addition, there were variations for Administrative Staff and Special Services, like railroad workers, firemen, administrators, etc.
The Luftwaffe had a somewhat similar organization by color, but with some changes specific to their needs:
1.) White was the color of choice of the elite Hermann Göring Division (since Göring himself favored White)
2.) Yellow was shared by both Pilots & flying crews, and paratroopers
3.) Red (as with the army) was strictly reserved to Artillery Battalions or FlaK Batteries.
4.) Green in the late phases of the War started to become popular with a grounded Luftwaffe (called the Felddivisionen or Field Divisions, infantry troops fighting under the command of the Luftwaffe).
I addition to shoulder boards, army troops had Kragen-Litzen or collar braid: two parallel fabric bars applied on each side of the collar. Officers wore them, too, but theirs were usually bigger, made with finer fabric, and embroidered with silver. Generals wore Lahren, similar to their British counterpart, and are embroidered in gold on a bright red backing.
Luftwaffe personnel, armored troops (except assault guns after 1941) and Waffen-SS all shared a common trait: they all wore collar tabs instead of the Litzen (“braid”) of other groups. The tabs were simply rounded squares with each service adding its own touch: for example, a metallic skull & crossbones for tankers. This emblem grew out of Frederick the Great’s Imperial Dragoons, and should not be confused with the “deaths head” emblem of the SS. Panzer collar tabs were piped in pink (red for anti-tank units), with some quite esoteric variations. Yellow lining, for example, meaning a Panzer reconnaissance battalion, or black & white interlacing a cadet school or a mechanized pioneer battalion.
For the Luftwaffe, the more wings on the tabs, the higher the rank of the wearer, with those for officers surrounded by special wreaths. The regular Waffen-SS wore plain black with the infamous “SS” runes (traditional German lettering) on the left side of the collar, and “pips” for the various ranks on the right for NCOs and officers. High-ranking SS officers had embroidered oak leaves instead of pips (the more leaves, the higher the rank).
The shoulder boards of the early Army and Luftwaffe enlisted men and NCOs were usually a slip-on variety in the color of the early uniforms (Feldgrau I, a form of dark gray/green) or plain black. After 1943, shortages resulted in a sewn-on variation that could either be Feldgrau II or Feldgrau 44 (which was actually more brownish/khaki). Waffen-SS boards were almost always black, though there were variations, especially due to wartime shortages; even the elite had to relinquish style to practicality.
Despite the importance of accurate uniform markings, there have been gaps in the decals and dry transfers available to modelers. Alliance Model Works (distributed by Verlinden) has two sets of decals that are excellent for German army personnel (misleadingly labeled “Wehrmacht”) and Luftwaffe/paratrooper (aka Fallschirmjäger) personnel. The sets help fill some of the gaps that Peddinghaus, Archer, Verlinden, Lion Roar and even more recently, Tamiya itself have left open.
The Luftwaffe sheet finally includes some accurate Luftwaffe Felddivision markings and excellent Hermann Goering Division ones. A Felddivision (“field division”) was a branch of the Luftwaffe tasked with infantry missions. After the Luftwaffe lost its air supremacy over Europe in mid-1944, their wings were clipped and many of its personnel were nailed to the ground. The High Command of the Wehrmacht concluded that Luftwaffe personnel not needed in their original functions should not stand idle and watch, considering there was a compelling need for additional ground forces. Thus the Luftwaffe had its own infantry (and as in the case of Italy, its own Panzer division).
The set includes a detailed information sheet for easy application and identification of each marking. There are enough markings for about a hundred figures or more, especially if you intend on painting some figures in camouflage uniforms, which required fewer markings. It does not cover all branches of the Luftwaffe, but at least the more well-known and publicized ones. The set is complete with shoulder boards and collar tabs with yellow piping (for Luftwaffe flyers and paratroopers), red piping (for Luftwaffe FlaK artillery), green piping (for the Felddivision troops), plus an additional set of slightly smaller late war collar tabs. Another plus is the inclusion of the dark blue version of the camouflage ranks worn on later paratroop smocks, which until now were only available through Verlinden in a brown version. Brown is fine for paratroopers in Greece and Mediterranean campaigns, but is totally wrong for the Western Front.
The Wehrmacht sheet (LW35035) offers regular infantry, but also the Gebirgsjäger (mountain troops) and Panzergrenadier motorized infantry markings in their correct colors. It may seem obvious to the layman, but throughout the years many producers only printed a somewhat “unitary” form of green-piped shoulder boards and collar Litzen (“braids,” those parallel bars in a dull white with piped color lining the middle of each stripe), sometimes in light green, sometimes in dark green. Yet the correct piping color was never fully achieved. Alliance Models have corrected this, including a very pale "pea" green for the mountain troops (Gebirgsjäger), and a full set in medium green for Panzergrenadiers. The sheet includes enough markings for slightly more than one-hundred figures. As with the Luftwaffe set, there are other colors included: yellow piping for Reconnaissance and Cavalry, red for Artillery and FlaK artillery units, and white for regular Infantry.
Both sets also include a full array of side-cap, officer's cap and appropriate helmet markings for their relative service positions. The rest is composed of cuff titles, special service sleeve markings, and various insignias. Cuff titles for the “Großdeutschland” regiment should be applied with care: unlike Waffen-SS cuffs, which were usually worn on the left lower sleeve, “GD” cuffs were worn on the right lower sleeve. There are also Edelweiss patches for mountain troops, Jäger patches, and Panzerjäger (tank hunter) patches (usually worn on the upper left sleeve).
Both sets also include photo-etched shoulder straps and medals (some of the most detailed ones I have seen in this scale). Among them you will find Iron Crosses, German Crosses, Belt Buckles, Campaign Badges, Assault Badges and more.
A slight word of warning: these decals are extremely delicate and should be treated with utmost care. The instruction sheet recommends to apply Creos Mr. Mark Setter to avoid unpleasant surprises. My guess is that any setting solution would be fine, as long as it is not too aggressive on the inks of the decals themselves. Micro-Set may also work in my humble opinion, but I have not used them yet, so my opinion is good as yours.
I can only welcome this addition in 1/35 scale figure markings. I own every kind of dry transfer or wet decal markings the After Market has ever produced. The best in my view still remain those offered by Archer, Verlinden, and Tamiya (their latest addition item #12625 is gorgeous), and the photo-etched fret by Lion Roar that is meant just for the very expert modeler with a fine eye for painting techniques and detailing. Now we have Alliance Model Works. Highly-recommended for all, the expert as well as the newbie to modeling!
Highs: Highly accurate, perfect color register, easy to identify, in perfect scale, details stand out.Lows: Very delicate, should be handled with a lot of care and absolutely need a setting solution after application.Verdict: Excellent choice for those who want the extra touch in uniform decals. Outstanding.
About Patrick Selitrenny (jlpicard) FROM: TICINO, SWITZERLAND
I am a stage actor / director / producer and now, also writer.
I have been involved in this business for over thirty years now and my passion has remained firm as the day I started.
I am also a history scholar and website designer.
I have a very creative mind, with a vivid and broad imagination. ...