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Camouflage utilized on Soviet planes, 1945-1948 (wartime models)
by Massimo Tessitori
Updated on September 18, 2013
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In late 1944 the Soviet Air Force had altready reached a position of superiority over the German Luftwaffe and its alleys. While Germans reverted to green/brown camouflages to hide better their planes on the ground, the Soviets decided to extend to all planes the blue grey/dark grey camouflage that has been successful for fighters since August 1943.

On October 1, 1944, the Resolution n.6339 was approved, but burocratic delays retarded its publication till January 1945. These colors were prescribed for all types of planes:

  Nitro lacquers for mixed construction planes Oil enamels for all-metal planes
light blue AMT-7 A-28m
blue-grey AMT-11 A-33m
dark grey AMT-12 A-32m

The resolution included templates for many types of planes, all non-fighter ones. The instructions of 1943 for fighter planes (grey-grey camo) were implicitely confirmed.

Comparing those drawings to the photos, there are doubts if the directive was applied, and how; very few types respect the new templates, but many planes could have been updated, as suggest Vaklamov and Hornat, by repainting blue-green over green areas and dark grey over light brown areas. This would have led to a predominance of dark grey over blue-grey, but seems to be not a common case on photos.

Many types, Pe-2 and Tu-2 in particular, received wide soft repainting with a light color, leaving visible part of the previous camo; one can think that this light added color is blue-grey, even if one could have expected something darker from the description of A-33m, said darker than AMT-11. Perhaps it was sometimes surrogated with a mix of light blue and black, according to the formulas prescribed in 1943 for fighters.

Anyway, the most part of the Soviet non-fighter planes of 1945 continued to bear the same camouflages used in 1943-44.

In late 1944 some planes with uniformly painted uppersurfaces did appear; the new livery was probably blue-grey AMT-11 or A-33m with light blue undersurfaces. Uniform grey uppersurfaces started to appear on fighters around the end of the war, and this use lasted up to 1948 when grey was replaced by green; anyway it's impossible to distinguish grey from green on bw photos.

Anyway, many wartime planes preserved their old camouflage after the war.

Yak-3

Photo of difficult interptretation, probably after the war. Looks that a wide part of plane n.81 was repainted with AMT-12 dark grey.
A Yak-3 of 1 Gv.IAP in 1948. The plane looks painted with AMT-11 solid uppersurfaces and light blue undersurfaces. Apart for the rudder looks to have a glossy finish, the plane is finished matt as use up to 1946-47.

According to some sources, these planes were painted with glossy red uppersurfaces and light blue undersurfaces after the war for aerobatic purposes.

La-7

Some La-7s with uniform grey (AMT-12 for the first and second plane, AMT-11 for the third one) in 1945 (not known if during the war or immediately after). Note the unusual shape of the bort number, probably in red. Probably these liveries were not from the factory, but were due to a repainting. The dark grey extends on the side steel plate behind the exhaust stacks, but paint looks to have adhered very badly on it. The uppersurface color looks to extend under the rear fuselage of plane 06 too, but not of the closer plane, possibly n.33, that is visible in other photos too.

This La-7 flight of 176 GIAP photographed by the frontline reporter Aleksander Dmitriyev from the rear place of an Il-2 in April 1945 near Berlin. The planes could have been repainted with fresh AMT-12 livery and red noses.

(from MBI monograh)

Il-2 and Il-10

No any photographic evidence proves that any Il-2 or Il-10 was ever painted with grey-grey camouflage in 1945.

Some images were proposed in the past, but they were relative to Yugoslav postwar planes, likely with green/grey livery.

Other color images, showing grey-green planes in Prague-Kbely airport, look manually colorized.

Anyway, it could be that some Il-2 and Il-10 were repainted with AMT-11 grey uppersurfaces just after the war, but it's very hard to distinguish an uniform grey from an uniform green finish on bw photos.

 

 

 

This UIL-2 was photographed in Leningrad military school in 1948. It clearly features an uniformly painted uppersurface, but it's difficult to say if it is a faded green or grey.

From Ilyushin Il-2 and Il-10 of Yefim Gordon and Sergej Komissarov, ed. Crowood.

Photo of a group of Il-10s after the war. They were of the type built in 1944/45, as visible from the photos of the air filters of ealy type on some photos.

The livery looks made with an uniform color lighter than the red of the stars, apart for the stabilizer and rear fuselage where one can see dark parts that could be due to an unperfectly repainted previous camouflage. Anyway, these doesn't correspond absolutely to thepattern of the AMT-11/12 camo described on the NKAP resolution.

These images are compatible with a wide AMT-11 grey repainting of the uppersurfaces.

From http://scalemodels.ru/modules/forum/viewtopic_t_4219.html

Il-4

Despite the inclusion of a template, there is not any photographic evidence that Il-4s were ever painted according to it.

 

Left:

An Il-4 in 1948. Some Il-4s were painted with uniform uppersurfaces after the war, but it's unclear if they were green or grey.

Pe-2

Despite the inclusion of this template in the instructions of 1945, thee is not any photographic evidence that any Pe-2 was ever painted according to it.

Anyway, veterans confirm the existance of grey Pe-2s, suggesting that their uppersurfaces were painted in solid color.

Accoding to Orlov, on Pe-2 the old camouflage was rather simply updated by painting green fields with gray-blue paint, and light brown with dark gray, except for the paint on the left side of the tail; dark grey should, of course, be left unchanged, perhaps appearing lighter than freshly repainted parts. This style of repainting would generate a camouflage where the dark grey is predominant over blue grey, but from photos it seems that this was not the case of many planes.

It seems, instead, that many Pe-2 had a repainting where a light shade covered all the previous light brown areas, plus other ones that were previously painted in green or dark grey.

Pe-3 long-reconaissance version photographed by a NATO plane after the war. The NATO codename of this type was 'Buck'. The camo resembles as a variand of the 1st NKAP template of 1943, but could also be compatible with the drawing of 1945. (From Pe-2 Peshka of Smith, ed Crowood)
Pe-3 photographed on April 1947 by a US officer. Although recently repainted, this plane still looks to be painted according to a variation of the 1st template of 1943, and is clearly a 3 shades camouflage.

Many photos of Pe-2s of late 1944 and 1945 show extensive repaintings with a relatively light color, that often avoids the engine cowlings, the canopy area and the rudders. This color results marginally darker than the light blue of the undersurfaces.

It could be the uniform grey described by some veterans, possibly intended to reduce the inflight visibility of the planes.

To know more, go to the Pe-2 page.

Yer-2

Despite having been forgotten in the templates of 1945, Yer-2 utilized the grey-grey livery reinterpretating the scheme for Pe-2s into an hard-edged one.

 

 

Tu-2

 

The new grey-grey template for Pe-2 was intended for the Tu-2 too.

As it is traced here, it doesn't appear on any photo or wartime or postwar Tu-2.

Neverthless, as in the case of Pe-2, many Tu-2 photographed in 1945 show a strangely abundant application of the lighter color, that should be light brown; not rarely, the light color looks to extend over the totality of the wing and on a wide part of the fuselage, on which the fit to the new template is not too bad.

A possible, although unproven, interpretation of such photos is that the planes were widely repainted in grey to fit roughly the instructions of 1945, leaving part of the previous camouflage visible; against this interpretation, one can say that the first photos showing this finish are dated on October 1944, when the directive was already written but not yet published.

The construction of Tu-2 was first stopped after the war, then restarted in 1946 with a gloss camouflage similar to the 1943 style.

UT-2

Despite the existance of official templates, no photos of grey-grey camouflaged UT-2 are known till now.

 

 

 

Photo of UT-2 in unknown date and location, but surely after 1943, perhaps even after the war. Looks painted in uniform gloss green and light blue, but could also be grey AMT-11 and blue AMT-7.

Po-2

There are some photographic evidences that many Po-2s were painted with a two shades camouflage in late 1944 and 1945.

Although some sources interpretate it as a brown-green scheme, the contrast and pattern is broadly compatible with the template of 1945 (although not so angular); so it is likely that grey/grey Po-2 did exist.

 

ShCh-2

 

 

Quite surprisingly, it looks that the transport plane ShCh-2 was the only plane to come out of factory with the grey/grey camouflage, following the official template with accuracy.

Yak-6

Despite the publication of an official template, no any photo of Yak-6 with grey/grey camouflage is known.

Anyway, this type was already out of production in 1945.

Pe-8

Despite the existance of an official template, no any photo of Pe-8 with this camouflage is known.

Anyway, this type was already out of production in 1945.

 

 

However, photos of VIP transport version Pe-2ON, of which two vere built in late 1944, show uppersurfaces with solid color that could be blue-grey AMT-11.

As an alternative interpretation, the color of uppersurfaces could be green.

Li-2

Despite the inclusion of a template for Li-2, there is not any photographic evidence that Li-2s were painted with this pattern;

anyway, there is a photo of what seems a grey-grey Li-2 in August 1945 in Manchuria:

Its pattern looks similar to that of green-black camouflage, but with color darkness inverted and some more angular lines.

The plane on the background looks grey/grey too, but seems to lacks of the dark grey band on the tail, or perhaps it is there but with a much lower contrast.


 

Camouflage paints for Soviet shturmoviks, bombers and transport planes, scheme of 1945

(note: only few planes followed this standard, the most part of the planes continued to be painted as after August 1943)
 
name of paint indicative chip match typical use notes
AMT-12 
matt dark grey
FS-27003 (2,3) 

AKAN 345 

gray-gray camouflage of mixed construction planes (Po-2, ShCh-2...) 1943-1945 
Nitrocellulosic lacquer for mixed construction planes
AMT-11 
matt blue-grey
FS-26190 gray-gray camouflage of mixed construction planes (Po-2, ShCh-2...) Nitrocellulosic lacquer
A-33m 
matt blue-grey
FS-36081 uppersurfaces of all-metal planes, alone or with A-32m oil enamel 

darker than AMT-11

A-32m 
matt dark grey
FS-36081 (2,3) 

AKAN 345

grey-grey camouflage with A-33m ( Pe-2, Yer-2, Tu-2, Li-3) 1943 and later 
oil paint for all-metal planes
AMT-7 
matt greyish blue
FS-25190 

AKAN 302

Undersurfaces of mixed construction planes
( Po-2, ShCh-2...)
Nitrocellulose lacquer for mixed construction planes
A-28m 
matt greyish blue
new FS-34533 (1,6) 
aged FS-34533 (2,3)
Undersurfaces of all-metal planes (Pe-2, Yer-2, Tu-2, Pe-8...)
Oil paint for all-metal planes 
equivalent to AMT-7 (or to AII blue?)
MK-8  and “Noch” (night) 
matt black 
(1) undersurfaces of night bombers 1942 -1945 
permanent, darker than AMT-6

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrecks of a post-war Yak-9. We can see that it was repainted with gloss green AGT-4 (gloss equivalent of AMT-4), and it's clear that it was flown with this color.

The underlying color is AMT-11 blue-grey , it's unclear if in other parts of the plane the darker AMT-12 was employed.

This photo demonstrates that at least a part of the uniformly-painted Yaks visible on photos at the war's end or immediately later were painted with solid green on their uppersurfaces.

The lower color is the usual AMT-7 (or perhaps its oil equivalent, A-28m)