In fact, it's more true to say that Gas Patch have produced two sets - because they offer the masks as die-cut paper or, alternatively, vinyl. I've purchased the paper masks to review because I find washi tape conforms to tight contours better than vinyl. Against that, vinyl is less prone to distorting so, like most things in modelling there's an element of compromise, whichever path you chose.
In both cases, the sets arrive on two sheets, the larger one including masks for the topside splinter camouflage pattern.
The sets provide multi-element masks for the national insignia and unit numerals for all the colour schemes featured in Gas Patch's model. You'll need to use the kit's decals for the unit badges and all the servicing stencils, which I think is fair enough, but I'm a little surprised that there aren't also masks provided for the Werknummern which I’d have thought would work fine in 1:48.
Looking at the washi tape masks, the quality appears to be excellent. The die-cutting is precise and the elements peel away cleanly and easily. So long as you're careful, you should be able to reuse the masks across more than one kit (that should be even more feasible with the vinyl set).
The masks are accompanied by a simple set of instructions which are printed in colour. The template for the camouflage is self-explanatory, but the guide for masking the insignia and numerals is a bit basic and best suited for modellers who've already mastered the art of masking markings. If you've never tried it before, I'd highly recommend checking out the work of our own Mal Mayfield (Holdfast) who developed Miracle Masks, because he gives detailed explanations of the technique.
I think it's fair to say that some (indeed, many) modellers will consider this masking set superfluous; after all, Gas Patch include beautiful decals with their Komet by Cartograf (among the best decal producers in the world), and the camouflage pattern isn't at all complex to mask off. But there's no denying that the only way to absolutely guarantee a "painted on" look for markings is, well... to paint them on(!) and Gas Patch’s painting masks are nicely produced and affordable.
For me, though, the missed opportunity is that Gas Patch haven't included markings for alternative colour schemes to the ones already featured in the kit. Admittedly, that would have entailed cutting masks for Werknummern (as I noted above, I think that would have been perfectly feasible in this scale), but it would have been a real extra incentive to buy the set and go the "masking route".
As it is, it's a well produced masking set that should work well for experienced modellers as well as anyone wanting to dip a toe into the world of painted-on markings (with the proviso above about the rather basic instructions) - but do note that you will still need to rely on the kit's decals to complete the featured colour schemes.
Both sets are available from Gas Patch Models now:
Me163B Special Paper Painting Mask - €12.00
Me163B Vinyl Painting Mask - €10.00
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