Table of colors utilized for experimental camouflages of Soviet warplanes in 1940-41
by Massimo Tessitori
Updated on February 23, 2015
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All illustrations are from an article by Vakhlamov and Orlov on M-Hobby. The text is resumedboth from Colors of the falcons by Jiri Hornat and Colour and Markings of Soviet VVS Aircraft, 1941-1945 by M.V. Orlov and V.S. Vakhlamov .

Experimental camouflages of Soviet planes, 1940

The new green/light blue scheme introduced in May 1940 was criticized by some officers of the VVS, because the use of only one color for the uppersurfaces, gloss furthermore, and suggested a disruptive camouflage with matt colors.
These objections led to the costitution of a special committee to test new disruptive camouflages. Six SB, three I-153s and seven I-16s were given to NII VVS, the Scientific Institute of the Air Force, to test camouflages up to 5 colors. The base color was semimatt yellowish green 4BO (an army color, similar to A-19f but matt) supplemented by many water-soluble matt colors. At the same time, various colors were tested for the undersurfaces, the best of which turned to be light grey.
A Bf-109E purchased by Germans, with a dark green/black green camo, was included into the tests as a comparison, as some planes with standard green painting.
Trials were concluded on August 28, 1940, when results were confirmed by six crews of the 134 BAP, that flew over the camouflaged planes and were unable to detect many of them. In consequence of this success, some multichromatic schemes were suggested for adoption, and led to temporary instructions in late 1940. Unfortunately it turned out that raw materials for the production of those paints were insufficient for all the planes; besides, the water-soluble colors were scarcely durable and increased the aerodynamic drag. So it would have been necessary to develop new durable paints, even if glossy waiting to develop new matt paint. Repainting of the whole Air Force fleet in 1941would have required 124 tons of glyptal or oil enamel and 266 tons of nitrocellulose dope. Despite all the work carried out in 1940, none of the multicoloured patterns were used in mass production.

Ilustrations from an article by Vaklamov and Orlov appeared on M-Hobby  




name of paint indicative chip match typical use notes

matt yellow green

AKAN 381 army color; utilized on planes only for experimental camouflage in 1940 oil enamel

matt sand

AKAN 382 army color; utilized on planes only for experimental camouflage in 1940 oil enamel

matt brown

AKAN 383 army color; utilized on planes only for experimental camouflage in 1940 oil enamel

matt light green

AKAN 322 army color; utilized on planes only for experimental camouflage in 1940 oil enamel
matt camouflage green
AKAN 320 army color; utilized on planes only for experimental camouflage in 1940 oil enamel
gloss light grey

(4, 6)

Overall scheme of most SB;
I-15bis, I-153, I-16, R-10 and other types metallic parts (eventually, of the undersurfaces of types that had green uppersurfaces)
Oil enamel
Specification issued around 1937
1937-1940 exterior paint for metal 
from 1941 interior paint
AII Sv.gol. (svetlo goluboi) 
gloss light blue
AKAN 342 
Undersurfaces of I-16s and I-153s
Nitrocellulose lacquer 
standard after june 1940


On May 6, 1941, a new directive ordered factories to deliver planes with disruptive camouflage on uppersurfaces and light grey undersurfaces. Disruptive camouflage was intended not only to match the plane to the prevailing colors of the background, but also to distort its shape and make its detection more difficult. The scheme was not specified, and this directive was not immediately applied.


Camouflaged LaGG-3s of Gorki, June 1941

In early June 1941, 28 LaGG-3s were painted in multicromatic camouflages in factory n.21, in Gorki.
The applied colors were: sand, brown, grey, green and black. The paints were semi-gloss nitro paints. Between those planes there was n. 3121376, wich crashed in a test flight on June 14, 1941 (in the photo).
Despite the camouflage was effective even at short distance, those planes were repainted few days later and delivered to the VVS in standard green/black scheme .

  Camouflaged Pe-2, June 1941

There are many photos of an unit of Pe-2 destroyed on the ground in June/July 1941 (one of the photos taken by German soldiers was dated 21-7-41).

All these planes show a complex camouflage involving four or five shades on the uppersurfaces.

The shades are not clearly identified: they seem to be two light ones, two dark ones plus black. It is possible that they were the same experien ced on LaGG-3s.

The camouflages were probably made just before the war outbreak; some of the planes were updated with red stars on the tail.

To know more, go to the Pe-2 page


Camouflaged MiG-3, June 1941

Early MiG-3 of 7 IAP, piloted by Capt. S.N. Polyakov, Leningrad front, summer 1941; according to some sources, the photo was taken some day before the war outbreak.

Noticeable is the non-standard camouflage, apparently composed by four colors, and the red stars over the wings as prewar use; the fuselage star is unusually large if compared to those applied in factory before the war.

The colors can be only guessed, but it's likely that were more or less those experienced on LaGG-3s.

(Image from Red Stars of Geust, Keskinen, Steinman)


Camouflaged I-16, August 1941

I-16 white 71 of V.Romanenko, 13 IAP VVS KBF around August 1941.

The fantasious camouflage doesn't match the pattern suggested by the early 1941 directive, but it seems to feature 5 different shades so it could be easily inspired to it. It's not clear if it was made before the war outbreak, or later. seems that there is not any red star on the fuselage, so we have to suppose that there was one on the tail.