SB in Finnish Ilmavoimat: evolution of the painting and marking

Updated on November 1, 2017

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When just captured, the planes received wide Finnish marks over the original Soviet grey livery, or were repainted with Finnish silver grey (it appears as grey on photos) but they were not operating with this livery, apart for VP-10 (later renamed VP-1).

The code VP-10 was painted black.

On 26 August 1940, it was ordered that all warplanes had to be painted in this way:

  • top and sides: field green;
  • bottom: silver grey general colour.

No photos of SB painted in such way are available.

On 1 November 1940, the previous directive received an addition: the black areas. The proportion of black and green pattern was about 2:3. The colour demarcation of the top and bottom surfaces had to be wavy, instead of straight.

A remarkable characteristic visible on photos is that the left sides of the nose and both cowlings had a wide silver-grey band extended to the upper surfaces, while the right sides hadn't it.

The roundels were smaller than before, 100 cm diameter independently on the size of the plane.

Initial code prefixes of Finnish SB were VP (for planes from 1 to 8; previous plane VP-10 was renamed VP-1).

The codes on the fuselage sides were painted black on the green background, and green on the black background.

Planes hadn't yet some Finnish modifications as the tall radio mast, the MV-3 turret or the sliding hood and foldable windshield on the navigator's cockpit that appeared only in 1942.

In late June 1941, after the start of the Continuation War, warm orange yellow (Dicco 6) bands were added on the fuselage and under the wingtips.

In September 1941, codes prefixes of planes already in service were changed from VP to SB. Planes from 9 to 24 were put into service later, directly with SB prefix.

From 7 May 1942, the planes were painted or repainted with light blue ( matt Ikarol 291) undersurfaces, the same shade of German RLM 65 Hellblau, preserving the black-green camo and the yellow bands; the pattern of the upper camouflage was changed into a 'splinter' one inspired to German Do-17s, and the light grey parts on the nose and cowlings disappeared; the division line between camouflage and light blue undersurfaces became straight.

Some planes (as SB-9) preserved the early style 'oblique bands' camouflage on the wing uppersurfaces up to the war's end, but their undersurfaces were repainted light blue.

The planes received updates as:

  • the sliding hood and foldable windshield on the navigator's hatch
  • the radio mast on the windshield, with the relative wire aerial;
  • the MV-3 ball turret;
  • sometimes the MV-2 ventral turret.

Photos show that planes with the old style camouflage could already have these updates.



Occasionally, some of the planes received a temporary white camouflage during the winter. For now, this is documented only on SB-13.
In June 1944, the white rounds around the swastikas were repainted light grey to reduce their visibility from above. It is likely that the rounds under the wings preserved their white background.

After the armistice with Soviets in September 1944 the yellow bands were deleted, while the swastikas were preserved.

Finnish SBs fought against Germans during the so-called 'Lapland war'.

All survived SBs were written off and storaged in February 1945. Swastikas were replaced with white-blue-white roundels on April 1945; probably the planes never flew with these roundels.




Photos of Finnish planes are nearly all from Suomen ilmavoimien historia 9: "Venäläiset Pommittajat" of Kalevi Keskinen, Kari Stenman, Klaus Niska.

Other photos and informations are from Tupolev SB in action, by Hans-Heiri Stapfer, Squadron/Signal publications.

Other photos are from SA Kuva archive (usually marked on the images)

Some other photos and informations are from:

Warpaint- Finnish Air Force Colors - Finnish Air Force Series # 23 of Keskinen, Stenman http://www.amazon.com/Warpaint-Finnish-Air-Force-Colors/dp/9519875166

Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 24: LER 5 of Keskinen, Stenman https://www.booky.fi/tuote/keskinen_kalevi/suomen_ilmavoimien_historia_24_ler_5/9789519875170




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