Ultracast Canadian Armour Decals
I have six sets of these waterslide decals, which are produced to a high standard. Starting with the simplest first, set D35012 is Allied Vehicle Stars of the stencilled star-in-a-ring type, printed in white with the rings broken at the points of the stars. Three sizes are included - three 19.5 mm equating to the 27 inch size, six 14.75 mm equating to 20 inches, and three 11.25 mm equating to 15.5 inches. No placement notes are included, but that shouldn't be a problem as we all have references for such markings.
Sets D35010 and D35011 are Commonwealth Tactical signs and Numbers, Parts 1 and 2 respectively and both are printed in two colours. Each set gives in both colours two each of the diamond, triangle, square and circle Squadron symbols and four sets of numbers 1 to 9 plus 0 to go inside them. A small sheet of notes is included giving typical placement on Sherman turrets and quoting the seniority rule - red signs for the senior regiment, yellow for the second, blue for the junior and white for an unbrigaded regiment. Oddly enough the two sheets come in reverse order of seniority - 35010 is blue and white, and 35011 is red and yellow, so watch out if you have a specific regiment in mind.
Now for the more complex sets which are printed I six colours. D35007 covers Shermans of the Ontario Regiment, D35008 covers Shermans of the Three Rivers Regiment and D35009 is for those of the Calgary Regiment, both in Italy 1943-45. Each sheet comes with enough markings for two tanks plus some leftovers depending on your choice of subject. For the Ontario Regiment there are four 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade flashes (yellow maple leaf on black and red backing), four 173 unit serials on blue over brown backgrounds, two 27 inch engine deck stars in stencilled circles, two each of the four Squadron symbols in the correct red, six red-and-white recognition flashes of the type used in the early part of the Italian campaign, two bridging weight discs showing 30 and two showing 33 for 75 mm gun tanks and Fireflies respectively, and three pairs of serial numbers - T-147534, T-146208 and T-147196. The Three Rivers Regiment sheet is identical except for unit serial 174 with the three sets of serials being T-147341, T-146283 and T-147590. The Calgary Regiment sheet is the same except for the unit serial 175 instead of 173, Squadron signs in blue, and the serials being T-147294, T-46371, and T-148502. Placement notes with each set show typical marking positions.
These sheets are quite well printed with thin clear backings. Although they're not in perfect register on my copies it will be easy enough to trim the sides of the unit flashes to straight lines. However, the sizes of both 4 CAB and Regiment signs are the same and scale out to 9 inches wide by 8 inches high. According to Don Dingwall's excellent Canadian Armour in the Italian Campaign, which I suspect most of you wanting to model Canadian armour will use, the 4 CAB signs should be 9 inches wide by 6.5 inches high and the Regimental ones 9.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches high. Given that many signs were applied by brush without measurement this need not be a problem, but if you're modelling from a specific photograph it would be as well to check that both signs are the same size on the chosen tank. The 4 CAB sign should be simple to trim down if necessary, and the 0.5 inch discrepancy in the Regimental sign is only 0.36 mm to scale so not really worth worrying about.
Unfortunately the RAF roundels used for aerial recognition in 1943 are not included - rather a shame since the correct size won't be easy to find without digging through piles of RAF decal sheets and paying for lots of things that you don't want just to get the roundels. I hope Ultracast will offer roundels as a separate sheet to save us this bother (and waste). There is also a distinct lack of names, which is equally odd since many photographs of Canadian Shermans in Italy show the names quite clearly - two are on the Canadian Tracks website, for instance, and that's just the first site I looked at for them. So for the names you'll just have to fall back on the good old rubdown lettering and hope to get the line straight. A further minor annoyance is that Ultracast gives no indication of what the names are for the serial numbers given, or even of which serials are for 75 mm Shermans and which for Fireflies. Some of the serials are listed in Don Dongwall's book, so they're not (or at the least not all) taken at random from known block allocations - why didn't Ultracast finish the job properly by saying which is which and what the tank names were? With photographs available showing names and serial numbers this would have been easy enough to do.
Despite the above criticisms, which are annoyances rather than disasters, I strongly recommend these sheets to anyone looking to finish Sherman models in Canadian colours. They have the all-important Brigade and Unit flashes which are so hard to paint well by hand, and the rest of each sheet is good even without the names and roundels.
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