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Built Review
Decals for M18 Smoke Grenades
120mm (1/16th) and 90mm (1/20th) decals for M18 Smoke, CS Gas and Thermite Grenades
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by: Mario Matijasic [ MAKI ]

Originally published on:
Historicus Forma


I remember the first time I wanted to paint the lettering on M18 Smoke Grenades in 1/16 scale; no matter how hard I tried, the results were always far from perfect. Printing my own decals was not an option since very few printers actually print white. I was stuck... until now.

Arms Corps Models recently released several sets of smoke grenade decals in various scales: 1/10, 1/16, 1/20 and 1/35. This review covers their 1/16 & 1/20 scale set.


The set is packed in a zip-lock bag and includes a decal sheet and instructions. The decal sheet is printed using Alps MD-5500 printer on "Experts Choice" decal paper; it consists of 22 decals in 120mm (1/16) scale and 18 decals in 90mm (1/20) scale. The instructions provide basic tips for working with decals, and also include painting guide and decal placement scheme... definitely a very useful addition to the set.

The grenades:

The set includes decals for:

M18 Smoke Grenade
M8 Smoke Grenade
M6 Riot-Control Hand Grenade
M14 TH3 Incendiary Hand Grenade

Chemical and gas grenades include smoke grenades and incendiary grenades. Unlike explosive grenades, these are designed to burn or to release a gas, not to explode.

Smoke grenades are canister-type grenades used for ground-to-ground or ground-to-air signaling, target or landing zone marking, or for screening unit movements. The grenade body consists of a sheet steel cylinder with a few emission holes on top and at the bottom to allow smoke release when the grenade is ignited. The M8 Smoke Grenade is filled with hexachloroethane (HC), a chemical agent that produces a thick white smoke when burned. M8 featured light green body with black markings and white top. Since HC produces harmful hydrochloric fumes, the filler in the modernized M83 Smoke Grenade is terephtalic acid (TA). The M83 features forest green body with a white top, white markings and a blue band. The M18 Smoke Grenade is visually similar to M8 but with a different type of filler. M18 was produced with four colors of smoke: yellow, green, red and violet. M18 featured olive drab body, single white band and white markings, with the top painted yellow, green, red or violet to indicate the smoke color.

Riot-control grenades are filled with non-lethal chemical agents and used in crowd control situations. The M6 Grenade contains a combination mixture of chloroacetophenone (CN - tear gas) and diphenylaminochloroarsine (DM - sneeze gas). CN-DM is an irritant to both eyes and respiratory system. This grenade features gray body with a single red band and red markings.

Incendiary hand grenades are used to destroy equipment. Working off the intense and violent reaction of the thermite filler, these grenades can damage, immobilize or destroy vehicles, weapon systems, shelters, or munitions. The M14 TH3 Grenade is filled with thermate (TH3) mixture and features gray body with purple markings and a single purple band.

All these grenade types were used extensively during Vietnam War and since. The M8 and M6 are no longer common to the US inventory though.

The decals:

The decal sheet represents the markings of the aforementioned grenades well. Other than a slight ink smear on one of the decals, the print is absolutely fantastic. To help with decal identification, the 120mm scale ones are enumerated:

#1 - 8 markings for M18 Smoke Grenades (violet, red, yellow and green, 2x each)
#2 - 2 markings for M14 TH3 Incendiary Grenade
#3 - 2 markings for M8 Smoke Grenade (white markings with blue band)
#4 - 2 markings for M6 Riot-Control Grenade
#5 - 4 markings for M8 Smoke Grenade (black markings)
#6 - 4 markings for M8 Smoke Grenade (white markings)

My research showed that #3 markings most probably depict M83, not M8. Thus the text should read AN-M83, Smoke, TA, instead of AN-M8, Smoke, HC. A minor thing actually and I doubt anyone could actually spot the difference on such a small decal. The #6 represent markings of the M8 Dummy Smoke Grenade. So, if one wants to portray the M8 Smoke Grenade as issued in Vietnam, I would suggest using #5 markings exclusively.

The 90mm scale decals include all of the above markings, and are easily identifiable.

Using the decals:

I'm sure you all used waterslide decals before so I won't go into details here. The 120mm scale grenade was painted and gloss coated. One of the decals was cut from the sheet using a sharp blade and carefully positioned on the grenade. The decal film is very thin and the marking conformed well to the grenade. After applying decal setting solution, a matt coat was airbrushed. To subdue the white marking color, some basic weathering was also performed.

I would suggest checking the references before weathering the smoke grenades... the variations between the markings are enormous; different text fonts, band thickness, etc. but most of these were pretty faded and chipped. The possibilities for realistic finishing in-scale are endless.


For me, it really is a no-brainer... these decals are worth every penny. No more nerve-wrecking painting sessions trying to get the perfect smoke grenade markings; these decals are easy to work with and are bound to give perfect results every single time.


Highs: Waterslide decals that are easy to work with and give optimal result every time. Good selection of different grenade markings.
Lows: A slight ink smear on one of the markings.
Verdict: Highly recommended.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Multiple S
  Mfg. ID: ACM35878
  Related Link: Arms Corps Models Website
  PUBLISHED: Mar 20, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Arms Corps Models!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Mario Matijasic (Maki)

You wonder how did this addiction start? I was a kid when my dad broght home a 1/72 Concord airplane; we built it together as well as couple of other airplanes after that. This phase was just pure fun: glue, paint, decals in no particular order... everything was finished in a day or two. Then I disc...

Copyright 2021 text by Mario Matijasic [ MAKI ]. All rights reserved.


Nice review, Mario, and high time something like this comes out. Thanks!
MAR 20, 2013 - 12:10 PM

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