I recently bought some vehicles off a bloke who was moving abroad. In general the paint job on them is ok, but one vehicle in particular is marked for a different unit (and to be honest a whole different army) than what I’d like to field it as.

Why bother?

This late war Cromwell tank has markings for a British armoured division (11th I think), I want to use it as Polish 1st Armoured. So out with the bull and naff “Havoc” nickname, in with the cool winged hussar symbol. Also, as a bit of a nitpick, the yellow tac signs are wrong.

Cromwells weren’t used by the armoured brigades that used the yellow signs, they had Shermans. A Cromwell would have been in the division’s armoured recce regiment, so they should have white tac signs. To be honest this is Warlord’s fault for putting a sheet of generic decals in with the kit and not saying which ones to use, and not wargamers who go ahead and apply what comes in the kit in good faith. Warlord aren’t helping by showing a 7th Armoured cromwell in the pics on their site, which was a bit unique and only division to use Cromwells in the armoured brigades. Maybe I’m being anal about it, but these days it’s a matter of putting one query into Google to get this stuff right.

The other reason you might want to remove decals is when you only realise that you’ve cocked it up after it’s dried. For example one of the tac signs on this tank is up the wrong way, and it’s pretty easy to get them slightly crooked in a way that’s only obvious from a distance.

Alright, how?

If you’re not using Microsol on your transfers then you should probably go buy some. One little bottle will last you a lifetime. It’s a solvent that softens the transfer and allows it to conform to whatever you apply it to. It’s absolute gold for making them stick to really bumpy surfaces, such as grilles on vehicles or zimmerit. The result is a transfer that really looks like it’s been painted onto the surface.

So with Microsol in hand:

  • Soak your transfer in plenty of Microsol. If it’s covered in varnish you might need to scratch through that to get the Microsol to soak in.
  • Leave it a while. Go put the kettle on.
  • Er, don’t wait too long though, you want it to still be wet.
  • Using a mildly abrasive object gently buff the transfer off. The rubber on the end of a pencil is a good option, as is a wooden coffee stirrer. At a pinch a blade can be used to get into any cracks, but go easy.
  • Gently clean up any bits of residual transfer with a cotton bud (Q-Tip).
Cromwell decal removal
The red unit ident is just starting to break up here. Getting it off around the rivets is going to be a pain though, that’s probably a job for gently scraping with a blade.

If it doesn’t come off easily, just apply more Microsol. Your aim here is to break up the transfer without causing any damage to the paintwork underneath. Go gently though, Microsol can dissolve paint if you use enough.

Depending on how much washing and weathering is on the vehicle you might have a bit of a job blending your replacement transfer in. Luckily in my case the previous owner hadn’t gone to town  on this tank, meaning I can just go over the whole vehicle and everything will blend nicely.

And here’s the before and after: