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Petlyakov Pe-2 unusual polichromatic camouflage in July 1941
Updated on December 10, 2015
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Between the many photos shot by German soldiers in the first months of war, there are someones depicting the remains of Pe-2s with interesting polichromatic camouflages.

The planes are believed to be of 410 BAP (and perhaps 411 BAP).

The units came to the front on early July 1941, but were badly hit on the grounds of Smolensk and Vitebsk.

Besides the units were badly hit on air, due to the German superiority, to the lack of escort fighters and also to problems with their unreliable defensive weapons.

Besides, at least two planes had to been burned during the retreat from the air bases, quickly occupied by advancing German troops.

Many images and some on the story of 410 BAP can be found at: http://imf.forum24.ru/?1-4-100-00000091-000-0-0

The unusual camouflage shown by these photos is particularly interesting, and worth of an attempt of interpretation.

The camo could be an application of the directive of May 6, 1941, discussed here : http://sovietwarplanes.com/board/index.php?topic=1809.0

Samolot 100 shown here was the prototype of Pe-2 (then in fighter configuration), but the pattern shown on photos don't correspond to this sketch, nor the sketches for SB or DB-3; although this, the directive is the only key for a likely interpretation of the photos below. Note thast the Samolot 100 and SB are drawn in 4 colorscamouflage, while the DB-3 is depicted camouflaged in five colours.

The image below looks as the legenda of the table above. (from http://scalemodels.ru/modules/forum/viewtopic_t_954_start_300.html ) . According to who posted this scheme, the numeration could be related to the AMT one, answering to the question 'how were AMT-2,3,5 like?', but this is only a likely extrapolation not supported by other known documents.

The colors, trying to reconstruct them from the parameters of this table, could be as the following chips:

or alternatively, assumed similar to the camouflage colors of the army:

As a third alternative, it's likely that the unit mixed its own paints, taking as a base those described into the directive.

 

 

 

Plane n.12 is the only one whose photo let clearly see a red star on the fuselage side. Besides, the camo is soft and looks mottled on the fuselage close to the tail, and look very different from that of the other planes of the unit.
Another image of plane n.12. It's difficult to interpretate the discontinuity in shade on this side of the fuselage. Probably the camouflaging colors were intentionally made asymmetric, lighter on the left side, on this plane.

Here we see a depression on the ground, close to some planes, where many Russian bombs with their wood canisters were abandoned.

Plane n.24, the best documented of this unit, is visible here.

The fabric tail surfaces have been burnt, Besides the fuselage behind the cockpit is broken, perhaps with a grenade to make impossible to repair the plane.

These damages could have been done by retiring Soviet troops that had to leave the plane on the airfield.

Some photos suggest that it could include up to 5 shades on upper surfaces. Both the supposed lighter shades are hardly distinguishable, or undistinguishable, on photos, but the extension of light patches is unlikely wide for one color, compared to the darker ones.

If the planes were painted at the unit, so it's likely that part of the original factory colors, green A-19f and light blue-grey A-18f , were preserved.

On many planes, the colors are accurately brush-painted, and have a semigloss finish.

The prop blades appear painted black, a progress over prewar use to leave them unpainted.

It is likely that the bands that seem of an unique light color were of two different colors, nearly unistinguishable on the bw images. At least one of these colors was subject to strong chipping; this suggests the use of an improvised paint unapt to adhere well on the underlying layer of paint.

A small red star is barely visible on the tail, overposed to the dark mottle.

 

Below:

The painting of the nose is strange; it's unclear if it's intentional, or resulted from repaintings, deterioration or vandalism.

Again, plane n.24 in even worst condition. The camouflage looks to extend under the fuselage.

This image of 24 from behind, although poor, allows to understand how was the camouflage on the left wingroot.

Here is a sketch of the painting of plane 24. Where unclear on the photos, the camouflage was continued on the base of photos of similar planes and by guessing.

The choice of shades was based on the previously seen palette; the division between the supposed sand and grey areas, undistinguishable on the photo, is a guess;

the photos doesn't seem to show areas with a medium color, suggesting that there were not bands of (AMT?)-3, yellow-brown, on this plane.

Plane n.27. The camo pattern is somewhat different from n.24; it has many outlines on common, but colors look exchanged.

Plane n.27.

The contours of the camo are similar to that of n°. 24, but the colors appear exchanged. The camo seems not to extend under the fuselage. Note that, while the most part of the demarcation lines appear hard, some are clearly soft.

An interpretation of the camouflage of plane 27 made with the same assumptions of n.24.

Seems that the outlines are forthemost from the same sketch of n.24, but colors appear exchanged.

Note some soft border lines, particularly on the right wing.

On the back of this photo, there is written: "Monoplane 28, 21.7.41".

No any number is visible on the fuselage, although the position should be about where the shadow of the soldier is. A small 7 looks visible on the tail., close to the blotch.

Note that the plane was partially covered by grass or nets after the belly landing, when the ground was still in Soviet control; this seems to confirm that the camouflage wasn't very effective on the ground, because of the massive presence of light grey.

A dismantled plane with paint still in good condition. The wide extension of the lighter bands encourages to believe that they were of two different colors, undistinguishable on bw photos.
Another dismanted plane after a belly landing.

Another (or the same?) plane after a belly landing.

 

Crashed rear section of plane white 35, that has many points in common with n.24.

Surprisingly, it looks that on this plane the camo could be extended under the fuselage.

The light color of the camouflage appears just a bit darker than the original light blue of the undersurfaces.

Another image of 35. the undersurface of tail looks chipped, leaving to see a darker color. Possibly, in a first time the dark camouflage was extended under the tail surfaces, then someone changed his mind and they were repainted light blue that started to chip away.
This clear image let clearly see the hard lines of the camouflage and the black outline around the red star.
Remains of a Pe-2, perhaps n.35.
Plane n.33 seem to feature a soft camouflage.

Left:

Plane n.44 looks to have been put upside down by a bomb explosion on the ground. Unusually, the camo lines appear soft.

Despite the fonts of the numbers resembling to those seen on the polichromatic Pe-2s, this plane could have an usual black/green camouflage instead of a polichromatic one.

Below:

piece of wing of an unidentified Pe-2 of the same unit; unlike n.44, this looks to have his camo extended on the sides of engine nacelles.

The black outline of the star is visible.

The sad remains of another Pe-2, that received not any luck by his original painting. The tail star is not visible in its usual positioning, or perhaps it's lower than usual, confused in the dark spot.

 

Thanks to Alexandr Ruchkovsky, Andrey Averin and Konstantin Lesnikov for their well-documented help.