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Table of inside colors and primers utilized on Soviet warplanes 1937-1950
by Massimo Tessitori
Updated on November 16, 2014
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Here is an attempt to make some order in the available informations on:

We have attempted to summarize informations from Vaklamov and Orlov books, from Alboom Nakrasok, from Akan site and catalogue and informations from Mr.Akanihin, from Colors of the Falcons, from posts on Sovietwarplanes (many of which of Konstantin Lesnikov), Scalemodels.ru, Britmodeller, Arcforum and from other sources. I would thank Peter Zanella for his help about the postwar part.

Some parts of this work are reasonably sure, while other ones have required some hypothesis. All contributions to make clarity will be taken in consideration.

The page includes a lot of images, not always credited. Should anyone have rights on some of these images, please don't feel offended, email me and I'll provide to credit or to remove them.

 

 

Metallic structures

 

Metallic structures can be, or not be, primed with zinc chromate paint to protect them from corrosion and to improve the adhesion of paints. The primer can be put on external and/or internal surfaces.

The use of zinc chromate primer (ALG-1) in Soviet Union started around 1938.

Two pieces of duraluminium wrecks painted with unprimed A-14 grey on their inner surfaces.

(Image courtesy from Mr.Akanihin and Scalemodels.ru)

The inside of a SB fuselage. We can see the A-14 grey overposed to a layer of zinc chromate ALG-1 yellowish primer.

DB-3F fragments in the Kiev museum. A description by Aleksey Shtan aka Shaitan737:

Interior ... is all zinc-chromate. ... DB-3F is sprayed in green and sandy brown. On DB-3, literally a few flakes of paint are preserved. At first only the primer is visible.

(photo elaboration by Konstantin Lesnikov)

Two wrecks of Il-2 in Kiev museum seem to show greenish anodized duraluminium.

In the first image, the anodization is visible on the inner surfaces (probably of a wing) while the outside has lost any paint.

Second image: main wheel door of an Il-2. It seems that the anodization is intact on the inner side of the sheet, while the struts have partially or completely lost it.

According to another interpretation, this grey-green could be ALG-5 primer.

The first photo shows a piece of wing painted with ALG-1 zinc chromate primer.

The second image is a fragment of SB of Spanish Air Force, showing the ALG-1 yellowish zinc chromate primer. The grey should be AE-9, while the green visible in traces could be a Spanish paint.

(Thanks to Isaac Montoya)

Here is the wing of an Il-2M in the Kiev museum shows well preserved light blue over a green/yellow primer, probably ALG-1 zinc chromate addictioned with 6&% aluminium powder.

The description by Aleksey Shtan aka Shaitan737:

IL-2M, straight duralumin wing. The plane was carrying black and green camouflage and colors are preserved beautifully! Undersides are still shiny! Interior is primed with "zinc-chromate”, bomb bay sides are covered with the fabric lined plywood painted in silver. Access covers, gun bay covers and flaps skinning - all made of plywood. All internal surfaces are primed with zinc-chromate of different shades, in places it looks like Russian "aotake”. Serial number is preserved on the landing gear doors. No traces of other paints there.

http://dishmodels.ru/wshowp.htm?p=416&id=8312

An image of a wreck of another late Il-2 (M or M3) showing a reddish primer, probably glyptal n.138; it is unclear if the yellowish visible is an overlaying layer of ALG-1 yellow primer, or strongly altered remains of brown paint.

Two fragments of the metallic skin of a LaGG-3.

They show black-green camouflage on the outer side, and yellow zinc chromate primer ALG-1 both inside and outside under the camo colors.

Surprisingly, there is a further red brown primer under the ALG-1, probably glyptal red brown n.138.

 

Mixed structures

 

Fabric skinning required to be tensioned with five layers of transparent nitro lacquer A1N, then painted with AII Aluminium to be protected from UV rays. Usually it was painted on the inside too.

Plywood structures could be painted first with thinned VIAM B-3 reddish transparent glue, then painted in silver or black. The outer layer was made smooth with a layer of fabric glued on, that was covered both inside and outside with yellowish nitro putty.

The first photo shows a piece of MiG-3 wing in a Finnish museum. While the outside is painted with AII green, we see thin scratches showing the yellow color of the nitro putty (ALG-2?) utilized to make smoother the fabric layer glued outside the plywood skinning.

The inside of the wing shows A_II aluminium paint and a brown glue. Structures and skinning were painted before being glued together.

The second photo shows a fragment of a LaGG-3 fuselage, always in a Finnish museum. We can see green paint (probably AMT-4) on a layer of fabric. Yellowish putty (ALG-2?) was both between the green layer and the fabric, both between the fabric and the underlying plywood.

A nearly intact rear fuselage of MiG-3 in Vesivehmaa depot.

The inner face of the wood structure is not repainted aluminium. We can se light grey-blue metal profiles for the dismountable side panels.

The side panels are reportedly painted with light blue-green paint (the same of the profiles?).

It's unclear if the part under the transparent is dark grey or green.

Image by Antti Lappalainen

A wartime color photo of MiG-3 allowing to state that the internal surfaces of the landing gear were light blue as the undersurfaces, while the hub was some green.

The inner surfaces of flaps are known to be light blue from the pieces in Veesiveehma depot.

Two images of the restoration of I-153 in Bourget from an article on L'Aviation by Neoking.

Under the (non original) green paint, part of the original fabric is still painted, inside and outside, with AII Aluminium over five layers of transparent coating for tensioning it. The reddish fabric is a German addition when they first restored the plane.

The metal parts were painted in a light beige-grey, probably aged AE-9, while the inside of metal panels and structures was painted with a more bluish grey, probably A-14.

The original bort numbers 21 were painted red with thin black outline.

http://sovietwarplanes.com/board/index.php?topic=1000.0

   

 

Systems

 

Elements of the various systems were mare recognizable with characteristic colors:

  • Azure: oxygen system
  • light green: cooling system;
  • dark brown: lubrification system;
  • black: compressed air system;
  • red: fire extinguishers and inert gas system, plus many levers and buttons in the cockpit.
Those elements of oxygen system show remains of A-10 azure paint.

The first photo shows the cooler of a downed SB shows well preserved light green A-7 green.

http://nnm.ru/blogs/shamba/hronika_propavshego_bombardirovshika/

 

The second photo shows the partially restored nose of LaGG-3. The green coolant tank over the reduction gear is noteworthy (thought the paint seems not original).

http://sashapak.livejournal.com/52302.html

The oil tank of a DB-3 shows a well preserved A-8 paint, utilized for the lubrification system.

 

Cockpits

 

 

The inside of the Ilya Morumetz preserved in Monino museum. The plane looks have been restored; anyway, the cream dominating color is interesting.

http://igor113.livejournal.com/

The surprising inside of the TsKB-15 (I-17) of 1934 at Chkalow museum features white walls, red doors (as the outside), a green (with cracked black paint on) instrument panel, and a dark floor of undefinable color (Sort of olive green? Darkened clear paint over duraluminium?).

http://walkarounds.airforce.ru/avia/rus/polikarpov/i-17/index.htm

It's not clear if such combination could be representative of other planes of that age.

The inside of the ANT-25, of the Chkalow museum is another matter: despite the red/blue external livery, the inside is in shades of olive green, with white control bar and brown rear part of the seat. The paint looks worn, so it could be original.

http://walkarounds.airforce.ru/avia/rus/tupolev/ant-25/index.htm

The cockpit of this I-16 at Chkalow Museum is painted light blue. This was not a factory paint, but light blue and light grey were allowed as inside colors during overhauls.

From Maslov's I-16 book, published by Yauza-Eksmo 2008: "Interior fuselage surfaces were painted with gray oil paint (A-14?) during the early years of production. Starting from February 1939, in order to improve moisture resistance, wood was first covered with yellow primer ALG-2 a then it was painted with gray AE-9."

VIAM instruction LK-14 allowed use of A-18F, AE-9 and AE-14 for interior wooden surfaces. Lagg-3 and La-5 overhaul instructions allowed use of AMT-7 and AII Light Blue. (cit. Konstantin Lesnikov). A-28m light blue is in the inventory of possible paints for internal surfaces too.

http://sovietwarplanes.com/board/index.php?topic=777.0

http://walkarounds.airforce.ru/avia/rus/polikarpov/i-16/index.htm

The MiG-3's colors of cockpit were long discussed without finding a consensus.

The tube struts look very dark grey; the back armor plate appears green but probably it was of the dark grey shade we can see close to the head cushion. Lower part of seat, floor and cloche appear without any paint on the wreck, but it's possible they were painted when new, A-14 was suggested as possible color. Instrument panel and side boxes appear black. Some red, yellow and brown details are still recognizable.

The lower part of the seat appears as painted with a light glossy color on the bw photo from the maintenance manual of MiG-3. The floor shows an intermediate shade between the seat and the tubes, so it could be A-14.

On the small color photo, we see an unexpected light green ( A-7? ALG-1 with a bit of blue?) on the lower part of a fragment of MiG-3 seat.

In an interview with Oleg Korytov, a veteran of the MiG-3 ground crew said that the internal parts could be uniformly painted with turquoise blue, or with black, or with an unidentified skin color, or, I suppose, with grey.

The instrument panel of MiG-3 appears light in many photos; it was suggested this could be due to the omission or remotion of the thin black shaped plate covering the lights for instruments.

Many photos of planes of the late '30s up to 1942 show light instrument panels.

 

An image of a detail of the instrument panel of a DB-3 gives some light on the 'light' instrument panels: well preserved traces of light grey, probably AE-9, are well recognizable.

from http://scalemodels.ru/modules/forum/viewtopic_t_3652_start_400.html

 

A bw photo of a MiG-3 with the side panels removed. We can see some details:

  • strut tube and armored seat backrest: dark grey (AE-10?);
  • fixing plates for dismountable fuselage panels: scratched dark grey or light blue-green;
  • lower part of seat: light color, probably green;
  • weapons ammo rails: unpainted aluminium or light grey;
  • ammo boxes: military green;
  • firewall: light (probably unpainted aluminium);
  • starter fuel tank: probably black.
  • The inner face of the side panels of the cockpit preserved in Finnish museum is light blue-green FS 25352, the same of the outside (AE-14, according to Averin) http://www.oocities.org/capecanaveral/4676/reference/russian.htm;
  • the inner part of the panels of the engine/weapons zone is known to be darker than the outside color, probably dark grey (or unfaded green?).

Image courtesy Jan Koennig

A detail of the cockpit of a LaGG-3 early type. We see that the wooden structure is finished with AII silver. We see also a part of the backrest, probably grey A-14, a leather stripe along the upper strut of the cockpit, an unpainted aluminium box with red cross, whitish collector for signal rockets, a black lever, blue tubes for oxygen.

Some details of the Yak-3 in Bourget.

Through the open panel on the left side, we see the internal struts whose dominant color is gray (A-14). The red pipe should be for fire extinguisher or inert gas for the tank;the blue bottle and small tube is for oxygen.

The second image shows the cockpit, whose base color is grey A-14, with black instrument panel, consoles and cloche and many colorful levers. The gunsight is missing.

Right: a small image of the gunsight from another Yak-3. It is painted black with a leather brown cushion.

 

An image of the Il-2 in Prague-Kbely museum seems to show a grey pavement (A-14?) while the instrument panel, left console and seat were repainted in grey-blue, possibly PF-36.

Other noticeable details are the different shades of green on the control column and leverages and the brown leather strips on the edges of the cockpit opening above the instrument panel.

The second image shows a detail of the cockpit after a restoration; now it is uniformly painted in medium grey with a greenish tint.The leverages of the control column have preserved their green paint. The radio (not visible here) is still painted with the original grey, more bluish than the new one.

http://scalemodels.ru/modules/forum/viewtopic_t_7288_start_0.html

Photo of the cockpit of an early Il-2 captured by Germans in summer 1941. It don't seem painted with grey A-14at all, but with a combination of black or a nearly black color (dark grey AE-10?) with unpainted aluminium side console, control bar and light grey AE-9 instrument panel.

According to Aleksey Shtan, the wreck of an early Il-2 preserved in Kiev museum showed no any paint, not even primer, in the inner surfaces of landing gear bays and bomb bays, while the external paints are still preserved. He couldn't say anything about the cockpit where no any paint was preserved.

So, we have to take in consideration that many aluminium alloy parts of early Il-2 could have been left unpainted, or perhaps that the paint wasn't preserved because there was not a layer of primer to improve adhesion.

Some exceptional images of the cockpit of the Tu-2 in Monino museum from a walkaround at http://igor113.livejournal.com/71576.html

(images of igor113)

 

 

 

The images reveal:

  • grey A-14 as a base color for the cockpit, and for many boxes;
  • yellow zinc chromate visible where the grey is scratched;
  • black instrument panel, instruments, gun support and some side boxes;
  • green (A-24g?) for the lower part of the seat, the control column and some other things;
  • lighter shade of green for the back of the pilot's seat, pedals and some levers;
  • light blue- green (A-28m?) repaintings over grey, and a light blue-green painted panel over zinc chromate;
  • unpainted aluminium flexible ammo ducts;
  • some elements only of the oxygen system (tubes and small supports, and bottles) were blue, while other items are unpainted aluminium;
  • red brown leather pilot cushion with light grey/beige belts;
  • dark brown flat cushion on the gun support;
  • grey landing gear legs, doors and probably bays;
  • emerald green (DM green) wheel disks.

 

 

Differently for the inside, the outside colors of the Monino exhibit are clearly non original and unreliable.

Anyway, the colors of the landing gear are likely.

The red thing is a manifold to lock the suspension of the leg, and was not present on operative planes.

The inside of the Tu-4 (Soviet copy of B-29) in Monino museum shows to be repainted at least twice: we see first a general light green predominating (A-7?), then some parts painted with a turquoise usually seen in the cockpits of MiG-21s and similar jets.

Many scratches, as those under the red levers, show a dark green (A-15?) that was likely the original factory finish of the plane.

Other colors include:

  • black instrument panels, seats, boxes;
  • khaki fabric for internal insulations
  • blue oxygen bottles
  • yellow circular doors for the non-pressurized central tunnel
  • many red levers and buttons.

Photos by Igor113 from a wide walkaround at: http://igor113.livejournal.com/368363.html

An image of the Yak-17 of Monino museum. The color of the instrument panel and consoles seem A-14, while the pavement and the control column seem painted with a darker unidentified shade of grey.

An image of the cockpit of the Yak-9 of OKB Yakovlev museum.

The colors probably are not original; one can see an unidentified military green and, over it, a grey-green that could be the DC-23 nitro paint utilized by Z-292 for the cockpits of its Yak-11s after 1946. The frames of the windshield seem painted with a darker green, possibly A-15f, not original.

It is likely that the original base color was A-14 grey instead of grey-green or green.

   
   
   

According to Armada n.10- Istrebitel MiG-15, all the cockpits of MiG-15 were painted with light blue-grey PF-36m as a base colour.

According to some sources, the only exception was Zavod 153 whose aircraft had the cockpit painted green A-15f. The same color were painted also the inner surfaces of all the inspection and removable panels. Anyway, the photos of the cockpit of MiG-15bis 2015357, built in z.153 and flown to a South Korean airport by a defector in September 1953, show an usual light blue-grey background. (see Squadron Signal Walkaround MiG-15).

Landing gear bays, landing gear struts and associated equipment were always painted grey A-14 with the inner surfaces of the landing gear doors being either A-14 or natural metal / aluminized paint. Wheel hubs were painted green A-24.

Here are two images from http://scalemodels.ru/modules/forum/img_860071_1367774288_029.jpg.html

supporting the description of light blue-grey cockpits.

The third photo shows a MiG-15 with light grey insides, unclear if original or due to an overhaul.

The bw photo is of a MiG-15 during tests; it confirms a light color of the cockpit, with a black instrument panel. ( From Warbird Tech n.40). The white stripe at the center of the instrument panel is a reference to put the control column in neutral position.

Below: another photo of MiG-15. The instrument panel is in a medium color.

A comparison the fun panels of MiG-15s built in different factories.

While Z.1 and 292 show silver or natural metal, the pieces of z.153 appear dark, coherently with their description as painted in dark green A-15f.

The pieces of Z.21 are more difficult to describe: one of them is painted with a light gloss paint, while the other one looks unpainted.

A photo of a Yak-23 at http://www.airgroup2000.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=224364

The inside looks painted in at least two different shades of green. It is likely that the original one was pained with A-15f.

 

A photo of the Yak-23 of Polish museum during the restoration. The original cockpit has been described as mainly painted in olive green by the restorers, so it could easily be A-15. During the restoration, the cockpit was partly painted grey to conform to the common belief about the Soviet planes. Here we see struts under the floor still with the original color.

http://www.kartonwork.pl/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13778&postdays=0&postorder=desc&start=20

 

The cockpit of the two-seater Yak-23 of the OKB Yakovlev/Zadorozhni Museum. The color appears grey-green and probably it is not original;it could be the DC-23 grey-green utilized for the cockpits of Yak-11 built in Zavod 292.

http://sovietwarplanes.com/board/index.php?topic=1490.15

The color inside this Yak-25 is thought to be A-15
   

 

Radio boxes

 

 

Some photos of typical radio apparatus from www.rkk-museum.ru

As one can see, the dominant color is grey (A-14 or similar) with black, aluminium or dark red details.

An image of the radio apparatus inside the Yak-3 of Bourget. Again we see the radio box of grey color. The aerial wire passing through the canopy is noteworthy.

 

Engines

 

 

Three images of a Klimov engine at Bourget. The reduction gear cover is grey (CF-108?), while the cylinders banks are black, widely hidden by grayish aluminum auxiliaries and tubes. The cooler pipes are green (A-7?), and the gun is, of course, gun metal.

The shaft is covered by some brownish clear layer.

 

 

 

The M-105PF2 construction line. On this image, only the cylinder banks appear black, while the most of the engine appear lighter, possibly CF-108 or MV-108.

 

The M-105 restored in Monino museum (image by Dmitry Sribniy)

http://walkarounds.airforce.ru/avia/rus/engines/m-105r/index.htm

Mikulin AM-35 preserved in the Central Finland Aviation Museum (Photo of Thomas Siepert)

The dominant finish is black, although many scratches reveal the underlying metal. The cooler pipe preserve some traces of green.

Mikulin AM.42 preserved in Prague/Kbely museum.

The dominant color is black, partially hidden by grayish metal tubes, green tubes for coolant and grey (A-14) air duct to the supercharger.

http://mig3.sovietwarplanes.com/mig3/engineam35a.html

M-11 of Monino museum. Image by Dmitry Sribniy.

The colors look black and CF-108.

http://walkarounds.airforce.ru/avia/rus/engines/m-11/index.htm

 

M-25 of Monino museum. Image by V.Fadeichev. The colors look CF-6 and MV-1.

http://walkarounds.airforce.ru/avia/rus/engines/m-25/index.htm

   
   
VK-1 of MiG-15 in the nuseum of Prague, from http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soubor:Klimov_VK-1_Engine.jpg
   
   
The gun pack of a MiG-15. Ammo boxes were usually painted with military green.
  http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/MiG-15

 

 

 

 

Paints
 
Notes on names and chemical mediums of the paints:

 

Interior and cockpit colors

 

A-14/A-14f 
steel grey
FS-26187 

AKAN 340

general color for interiors (both metallic and wooden surfaces) since 1930 

oil enamel

AE-9 
semigloss light grey
FS-15630 

From photos of SB

Overall outer metallic surfaces in 1937-40; usable for painting cockpits both in factory and during overhauls.

Oil enamel
Specification issued around 1937
1937-1940 exterior paint for metal 
from 1941 interior paint
AE-10 

dark grey

etalon 806-860

internal parts of wooden seaplanes below the water line

late 30s and later; oil enamel

 

AE-14 

light blue

FS 25352

internal surfaces of wooden seaplanes above the water line; according to Averin, undersurfaces of early MiG-3 link

late 30s and later 

oil enamel

AII aluminium Photos and Alboom Nakrasok some wood or fabric surfaces (including inside); Nitrocellulosic lacquer, protective of the fabric against UV rays.
DD-118 

grey

etalon 806-860

aircraft interiors after 1943 perchlor-vinyl enamel for wood (unflammable)

matt black nitro lacquer
  instrument panels 

(not on all planes)

 
A-15 etalon 321-327 internal surfaces, bays, and canopies of some types from late '40s.

Oil enamel

shade provisionally guessed from photos

DM green From Nakrasok Alboom, Akan site and photos of postwar planes wheel disks from late '40s. Nitro paint.
DC-23 grey-green From photos of the Yak-9 of Yak OKB collection cockpit of Yak-11 made in Z. 292 after 1946

Nitro pain equivalent to oil enamel A-23m utilized after 1947 on Yak-11 made in Z.292.

Seen inside some planes of Yakovlev OKB museum.

AMT-7 
matt grayish blue
FS-25190 

AKAN 302

Undersurfaces;
usable for repainting of internal surfaces
Nitrocellulose paint for mixed construction planes, in use after 1941.
A-28m 
matt grayish blue
Alboom nakrasok
Undersurfaces;
usable for repainting of internal surfaces
Oil paint for all-metal planes equivalent to AMT-7 or AII light blue. The sample on the Nakrasok Alboom appears yellowish, similar to British Sky, but the chip of A-28g, its gloss correspondant, is much more bluish.
AII Sv.gol. (svetlo goluboi) 
gloss light blue
AKAN 342 
Undersurfaces;
usable for repainting of internal surfaces in 1940-43
Nitrocellulose paint  
Specification issued around 1937; in use after June 1940; continued to be used in parallel with AMT-7 in the first years of war.
PF-36m 
matt light grey-blue
Extrapolated from AMT-16 but a bit more yellowish Overall surfaces of all metal planes; usable for painting cockpits both in factory (ex. MiG-15) and during overhaulings In use since 1947

 

Engines colors

 

MV-1 From Alboom Nakrasok engines  
MV-2 From Alboom Nakrasok engines  
MV-3, MV-4 From Alboom Nakrasok inscriptions on engines  
CF-6 
blackish with some purple
From Alboom Nakrasok engines  

CF-8 or MV-8

grey-green

From Alboom Nakrasok engines  
CF-108 or MV108 
gloss grey
From Alboom Nakrasok engines   
101/19, 2318/19, 102/19 
gloss black
From Alboom Nakrasok engines  

 

Systems colors

 

A-6 
gloss yellow 

FS-13655

From Alboom Nakrasok

 fuel tanks and  pipes oil enamel
A-7 
gloss green

FS-14187

From Alboom Nakrasok

coolant pipes and tanks oil enamel
A-8 
gloss dark brown
From Alboom Nakrasok lubrification tank and pipes oil enamel
A-9 
gloss dark blue 

FS-15065

From Alboom Nakrasok

hydraulic system  oil enamel 
A-10 
gloss azure

FS-15187

From Alboom Nakrasok

oxygen tank and pipes oil enamel
A-12 
gloss black
From Alboom Nakrasok air system and bottles oil enamel
A-13 
gloss red
AKAN 374 inert gas and fire extinguishers oil enamel

 

Primers

 

Clear dope
AI N (1st coat nitro aero lacquer)
 
 
Nitrocellulose primer for fabric
“Unpainted” exterior fabric surfaces of many planes made in 1920-ies
In 1930-ies AI N primer for AII paints
VIAM B3 Guessed Utilized on Lavochkins. Usually not visible on finished planes, because wood was painted with silver or other colors after being impregnated. phenolic glue for wood utilized to make delta wood structural parts; when thinned it can be utilized as impregnant for structure and skinning. It is still in use for many purposes, as the wooden parts of infantry weapons.
AII aluminium
 
Nitrocellulose lacquer/primer for fabric and wood
Nitrocellulose lacquer
Primer for nitro paints 1941-1945 
nitro putty (ALG-2?) From photos of MiG-3 and Lagg-3 remains in Finnish museum nitro putty for wood and fabric surfaces Visible through the peeling off of paint and fabric on wooden surfaces of MiG-3, LaGG-3 and other types

anodized duraluminium

(translucent grey-green)

Guessed possible treatment for unpainted or painted metal surfaces.

duraluminium anodized in sulphuric acid

from 1941

ALG-1 
Zinc-chrome yellowish
From Alboom Nakrasok and many photos of wrecks primer for aluminium and magnesium alloys; usually covered by less visible colors shade not standardized; it could appear as light yellow, reddish yellow or apple green 
see here
ALG-5  (50% ALG-1 + 50% A-14) 
grey-green
From Alboom Nakrasok less visible primer for aluminium alloys and steel shade not standardized
n.138 glyptal primer From Alboom Nakrasok scans unclear use; it looks present on the wings of some Il-2s instead of (or under) ALG-1 yellow primer. glyptal primer