Soviet SBs during Barbarossa:

grey prewar standard

Updated on February 22, 2018

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The SB with M-103U and M-103A engines were characterized by a tunnel cooler located under the engines.

The planes produced in late 1939 had the air inlet controlled by a movable plate that could close completely the inlet, and introduced a landing light on the left wing leading edge.

Another improvement are the plates covering the hinges of the control surfaces, improving their aerodinamicity.

The radio equipment, with relative mast and wiring, was introduced into production on late SB, and refitted to many older ones.

Apart for very early produced planes, the pilot's mirrors were positioned on the sides of the sliding hood instead of the top of the windscreen as was on flat-cowlings SB 2M-103; so, the clear extension atop the windshield was suppressed.

Planes produced in 1940 in the first half of 1940 introduced a fixed air inlet, while those built in the second half of 1940 featured a recess under the cowling for the retractable ski landing gear.

All these planes could feature both the old-fashioned TUR-9 turret, both the ball MV-3 turret, that appear to have ben refitted on many already built ones.

The SB with the improved M-104 engine were put in production in March-April 1940 at Factory n.22, namely Series 201. 53 planes were built; they were exteriorly undistinguishable from contemporaries SB 2M-103.

The prewar painting of these planes was uniform gloss light grey AE-9; about markings, propellers and the later updates of the turrets, they were as the silver flat-cowlings SB.

Above: photo of two SB with typical prewar livery. Plane 10 should be of 50 SBAP of 4 SAD. Planes are probably from different units, grouped by Germans as war booty.

As noted on nearly all photos, SB M-100A and 103 with flat cowlings are usually painted silver as used for SBs built in 1938-early 1939, while the later type with M-103 engines and streamlined cowlings were painted glossy light grey AE-9, always with aluminum/grey prop blades. Aluminum and grey liveries are often distinguishable in photos because of different reflection.


Black 5, unidentified unit

The image aside shows a light grey SB 'black 5' with a white cap as regimental marking.

Despite the full sun light, the appearance of the plane is darker than expected for AE-9 light grey, but none division line between upper and lower surfaces is visible, so it doesn't seem a green-blue livery.

The plane is of late production, equipped with fixed intakes and radio mast (unclear if refitted or from factory). the type of dorsal turret is unknown.


Another plane of the same unit, with green-blue livery, can be seen at

Soviet SBs during Barbarossa: late SB-2M103 with green-blue prewar standard



Black 2 and other planes of 40 SBAP


Black 2 was characterized by red starlets with thin black outline on both spinners, and by a small broken arrow on the top of the rudder, of light color (silver?) with black outline.

The bolt appears on photos of other planes, something with a dark look, so it could be the emblem of some regiment. For now, we haven't found photos of other similar SB with starlets on their spinners, so they could be individual markings, maybe denoting some squadron commander.

The plane had 'pointed-cowling' M-103s engines, probably with movable shutters coolers inlets, and a typical gloss light grey AE-9 livery.








profile of Black 2

Plane yellow (?) 12 at Vindava airfield, captured by Germans in summer 1941.

The bolt appears darker than the number, but lighter than the red star. Colors can only be guessed. If the number was yellow with black outline, the bolt could be the same, or orange.

Plane black (?) 8 seem similar to black (?) 2, but the arrow could be red.


Unidentified regiment with red stripe

There are many photos of a regiment characterized by a red (?) horizontal line across the tail.

Waiting for a sure identification, here are some images.


Aside: tail of a plane without any bort number, but recognizable for a red star on its rudder. it is likely that this was the plane of some commander.

The light grey livery suggests an SB 2M103 with pointed cowlings, unknown if with fixed or adjustable intakes.

The old-fashioned turret with sliding hood is recognizable.

On this photo, it is clear that the red (?) band is filleted by thin white lines.

Images of plane yellow (?) 9 of the same unit. here we see the hinges of the rudder covered by thin plates, that suggests that the plane had a fixed intake of the coolers.

Another plane of the same regiment, showing a red (?) stripe and a (black?) number 2 on its rudder.


Planes of 9 SBAP




9th SBAP had a regimental emblem that was derived from that of the Soviet Air Force.

While the emblem of the V-VS (Air Force) was a pair of yellow wings with a two-bladed propeller, 9 BAP had a pair of yellow wings with a black bomb and a red bolt.


SB-2M103 with the emblem on its rudder. No bort number is visible.


plane yellow (?) 4 again with the emblem on its rudder. The rudder is locked to the elevator by a rod.

Below: emblem of 9 SBAP

Plane red (?) 6 with the emblem of 9 SBAP well visible on its rudder.




There are photos of other planes of the same unit with flat cowlings and aluminum liveries at

Soviet SBs during Barbarossa: aluminum prewar standard





Below: profile of plane red (?) 6 of 9 SBAP, summer 1941.


Plane E of 39 SBAP


SB M-103 of 2nd Squadron 39 th SBAP, Captain DT Zhuravsky, left at the Bobruisk airfield due to a damage, June 1941.

It is the type with movable-shutter tunnel cooler built in late 1939/early 1940.

The plane is light grey overall with usual silver/black prop blades.

The most interesting characteristic is the cyrillic E, meaning "squadron (Eskadrilya) commander", and the thin trim on the top of the rudder, they are represented as blue on Aviatsiya i Kosmonavtika 2016-08.






Below: profile of plane 'E'.




Black 6 of 24 SBAP



An interesting color photo of the tail of a SB of 24th SBAP of 13-BAD. The number on the tail looks black. The color of the tip could seem as dark green. The light stripe seems white.


image Militaria-fotos

This plane had old-style TUR-9 turret under sliding canopy on a profile of Aviapark 2/2010.

The plates covering the hinges of the rudder suggest that it was produced in the first half of 1940, and had fixed intakes of coolers.


Images of other SBs of 24 SBAP can be found here:

Soviet SBs during Barbarossa: late SB-2M103 with green-blue prewar standard

Soviet SBs during Barbarossa: SB-2M105

Soviet SBs during the Winter War



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