MiG-3 striped n.97

Updated on 16 May 2023

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One of the most striking MiG-3 profiles was drawn in the '70s by John Weal; it showed a plane numbered white 27, with a brown-green striped camouflage with some black streaks. The plane was based on a real photo.

Image from Air International



On successive years, many other interpretations of this surprising camouflage and of the color of its number were proposed with the help of slightly better versions of the same shot; the simplest one was of a green plane with black stripes, probably considering the evident light stripes as a photo artifact or a reflection on glossy black paint.



Many years after, new photos of German origin became available, showing close shots of a similar downed plane numbered 97.

A doubt arose: was it possible that the supposed number 27 was misinterpreted, and all photos show plane 97?

On a close comparison, the fonts of the supposed numbers 27 and 97 were different; besides the extension of the white area on the spinner (visible on photos below) was different.

Was this enough to conclude that the supposed plane 27 and 97 were not the same one?



these side-by-side images allows to compare the camouflage of the left side of the fuselage. This image vaguely allows to see the rockets under the wings.

Apart for the obvious difference of the spinner and radio mast, the black bands are well consistent between the photos, despite the camouflage was improvised without any standard template or mask; this comparison suggests that the photos are of the same plane in different timeframes that could go from fall 1941 to summer 1942.

Probably the plane had always been numbered 97, and 27 has been only a wrong interpretation.

Image from Agefotostock archive


This photo of the same plane from the other side is interesting also because it shows the white front cone of the spinner, with a cone covering the starter tooth that doesn't appear on the photo aside; besides it shows the radio mast, the wings still in place and some other detail of the camouflage.

The plane had received some modifications in the meanwhile: the most noticeable is the repainting of the spinner and the apparent addition of the starter tooth and of the radio mast visible on the photo above. The rocket rails seem vaguely visible under the wing.

The font of the number 97 was different from side to side, being more rounded on the left side and more squared on the right side.


photo from the right side of the same plane just landed, that confirms the presence of the front cone and of the radio mast, and let see something of the painting of the wing root.



detail of the photo above that let see:

  • the rounded font of the 9,
  • some radio equipment behind the headrest
  • the torn away early type tail wheel door (with cuts for the wheel).


the images of 97 suggest the use of silver on the number, that appears very light when reflecting the sky but dark when reflecting the ground. Anyway, this could also be an illusion due to the stains of the exhaust pipes.

Another question arose: are the photo showing black bands on a green background, or light brown bands on a green background, or what else?

This photo seems to show three different shades on the top of the cowling. Even the old photo of the supposed plane 27 seems to show some stripes of a lighter shade, at least where the surface reflected the light of the sun.

On the photo aside, shadows projected by two men on the wing and fuselage side could give a wrong idea; the light area on the wing was probably a surface where the paint let see the aluminum shining, worn and dirty because of the soldiers' boots.

It is possible that there was a third shade that was distinguishable from the base green on bw photos only for its more glossy finish; if it was so, photos don't allow to trace the pattern of this supposed third color, so the drawings will show only green and black areas. If there was a third color, this should be on part of the green areas.


a reconstruction of the look of plane 97. The first profile represents the configuration of the first photo while landing, the second one and the top view represent the later configuration of the belly landed plane. The font of 97 is different from side to side; the spinner and the radio mast changed between the shots.



This work collects also a lot of photos and drawings from many sources, not always identified and mentioned.
If someone has some rights on the images here reproduced, please email to me and I shall provide to remove or to credit them.
While the historical photos are of public domain (except where otherwise stated), my color profiles and coloured photos are copyrighted.
If someone is interested in any use of them, please email me; higher resolution version is available for printing purposes.
If someone has questions, critiques or corrections, or some further images to show, please email to me.
Massimo Tessitori