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Bison British Armour decal sheets (1/76 & 1/72, NW Europe 1944-45)

by Peter Brown

Years ago I cut my modelling teeth on small-scale kits, building many Airfix Shermans, Churchills etc, various Matchbox models and even trying my hand at conversions and scratch-building. At the time they were all that was available, and aftermarket items were all-but unknown apart from some vac-form items and only a few limited run decal sheets - we old-timers called them "transfers". Then along came 1/35th tanks and the emphasis moved on, taking many including me with them.

As fashions change in clothing so they do in modelling, and in recent times new AFV kits in 1/76 and 1/72 have appeared alongside re-released old timers (some of which rival me in age). To support these we have add-on items and these new sets of decals from Bison will be welcomed by those who model in "braille scale" and doubly so as they cover British subjects.

I have received four sets for review: these provide complete sets of markings from serials and white stars to division and arm of service signs for several vehicles grouped in themes. These are based on photos and the references used are quoted in the instructions which makes life easier for those who want to get the correct appearance of the original vehicles as several will need some conversion to make accurate replicas though the line drawings showing decal placement are good guides to the changes needed.

These are described as for 1/76 and 1/72, in some cases models will be available in one or other scale and maybe both and the difference in this scale is not great. All cover subjects in the NW Europe 1944-45 campaign. Sources for the markings are listed, and wisely the designers suggest referring to photos. I spotted a few areas I was not happy with which I will mention as I go along. Please take these as clearing up what may be printing errors, not criticism of the designer's research, which looks very good.


BD-72004 (shown above) covers Centaur, Cromwell and Comet tanks. Matchbox's Comet had some nice decals with their kit and this set gives two options, the one for 1RTR tank is post-war - 7th Armoured Division did not re-equip with Comet until after VE-Day - and we get sets for two Centaurs, one 6-pounder armed tank used for trials and the well-known HUNTER of the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group complete with the turret traverse markings, which would be hard to depict without a decal. The remaining seven subjects cover Cromwells of various units, one set is for General Maczek's command tank in 1st Polish Armoured Division, another replaces the Revell kit markings for a 5th RHA tank as at Villers Bocage while one more is for an Armoured Recovery Vehicle.


BD-72005 (shown above) deals with a range of what could be called artillery vehicles. Ten subjects are covered; three M10 (named "Wolferine" and "Achilles") with one 3"-armed vehicle used on D Day and two 17-pounder ones serving with Corps-level Anti-Tank Regiments; two 17pdr SP Valentine otherwise known as Archer serving with different Infantry Divisions and what is strictly speaking a tank, an A30 Challenger with 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars; two Crusader AA tanks, one from a well-known shot with the vehicle still carrying its wading trunking and another serving as a OP or "Officer's Charger" with the Royal Artillery; and last but not least are two 25pdr SP Ram or Sexton, the one for the Essex Yeomanry even has the divisional sign in two parts for greater accuracy.


BD-72006 (shown above) is headlined as Firefly Vc but covers a wide range of Shermans, a DD and a wading tank from 13/18 Hussars on D Day, a Crab Flail, three Fireflies including one of Wittmann's victims at Villers Bocage and the Vc which ended his career and a composite-hull version with 60-lb rockets. We also get three Observation Post tanks, the one for the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group comes complete with the traverse markings for the turret was a Sherman V not an M4A1, another is another Wittmann victim and finally an Essex Yeomanry tank.

BD-72007 (shown above) covers the widest range with markings for no less than 17 vehicles. These include three from the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, two Tetrarches of the type flown in on D Day and a T.9 Locust from the 1945 Rhine crossings; and two Stuarts, a V from 5RTR just after D Day and a VI from 1945. The other subjects are all wheeled, an AEC Mk III, two Daimler Armoured Cars - the 11th Hussars car was a Mk II version on a post-war parade in Berlin - and a Dingo, two Humber Scout Cars, one Humber and one Morris Light Reconnaissance Cars, two Staghounds and two White Scout cars with a range of markings for Divisional and Corps units.

Overall the quality of the decals looks good, with several less than obvious choices of subject alongside some well-known vehicles. Apart from some minor issues as recorded above and a slight q uibble on the shape of Guards Armoured Division signs these appear accurate. Though they depict specific subjects many items could be adapted for other vehicles, and some sets fit naturally with others with different vehicles for the same unit or location which will be useful for dioramas and themed collections.

As to availability of kits for these – well, I am not well up in this area but a visit to the model shop or online retailers will no doubt turn up many suitable items.

More details can be found on www.angelfire.com/pro/bison – I think these sets will be good sellers and certainly hope they become so. Maybe they will inspire a new generation of modellers to try small scale AFVs or even tempt others back?

Peter Brown, 22 February 2004