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Curtiss P-40 E white 10 of Lt. Col. Boris Safonov, 2 GIAP VVS SF
Updated on April 28, 2015
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Drawing by Tapani Tuomanen

The early P-40E 41-13531 was delivered to Soviet Union with a convoy arrived on May 5, 1942; it was presented by a US delegation, and assigned to the Soviet top ace of the time, Lt.Col. Boris Safonov, of 2 GIAP VVS-SF, stationing on the Vayenga Air Base.

The plane didn't bear good luck to the ace, that died on May 30, crashing with his plane during a mission of escort to a covoy over the Arctic Sea.

Despite the existence of a video and a photo, the look of the plane was interpreted in many different ways.

Voices describe the plane as blue, but this was not absolutely a standard nor for US planes, not for Soviet ones even if assigned to the Navy Air Force.; besides the plane was lost much before blue-greys as AMT-11 and 12 became utilized in SU inventory; besides the plane lasted in service for a very brief time, so an extensive repainting is unlikely.

P-40E 41-13529 till 41-13559 were allocated as lend-lease to USSR in January 1942; so this plane was one of the very first P-40E to be delivered; being presented by a delegation, it probably was a brand new plane.

It is likely that this plane resemblet to plane 41-13570 that was lost on June 2, 1942, two days after Safonov disappeared, and was recovered from a lake in the North recently:

http://www.airpages.ru/us/p40saf.shtml

This plane was plain Olive Drab and Neutral Grey, without traces of deleted US markings nor yellow seriaòls on the tail, that started to be applied later on US planes.

Later, many P-40 E-1 were delivered to the soviet Union and to the 2 GIAP VVS KBF; they were built for the United kingdom with the Dupont equivalent of British Dark Green/Dark Earth/Sky camouflage and sometimes bore bort numbers with the same fonts of the plane of Safonov, but not the same livery.

A photo of a partial view of the P-40 of Safonov with what seems an even too sharp Dupont camouflage was published on some site; the image was obtained from a movie that is now available, although in low quality, and that doesn't show anything similar to that camo, so that image is at least suspicious.

The plane of Safonov was provided with a more powerful radio, probably from an Hurricane, and a mast of light color (or unpainted) bended on the right side, well visible on photos.

 

Image from Red Stars 4, of Geust and Petrov, ed, Apali

 

 

Some available photos and screenshots show the non-standard aerial mast bended on the right side, position of the star on the fuselage, the font of the bort number, the absence of stars and numbers on the tail (at least, on the small part that can be seen) and no camouflage, only small disuniformities in colors. The parts under the rear windows look painted with the same color of the outside.

Thanks to Aleksandr Ruckovsky for the informations and photos.