SBs in Spanish Nationalist and postwar service

Updated on February 2, 2019

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Nationalists captured SB n.2 on 12 August 1938 when it had to land in Guadalajara province.

In our opinion, this plane is the one reemployed by Nationalists with a nearly unaltered camouflage, as suggested by the resemblance of the dots.


Plane 2 captured by Nationalists.

The tricolor on the rudder and the band on the fuselage seem already altered. On the ground, one can see what seems a can of paint.

Image from Tupolev SB of M.Maslov

Closer image of plane 2.

A closeup of the camouflage suggests that the background color could be the medium one, probably brown or brick red, and the darker blotches (probably green) and the lighter ones (probably sand yellow) were added on it.

Image from Tupolev SB of M.Maslov


Below: an attempt of reconstruction of the look of plane 2 when still in Republican service.


The plane was repaired and put into service in grupo mixto 70/86 with reconaissance duties.

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A closeup of the bose shows tha the glazing was modified: this photo shows one slot for a machine gun that seems not installed; the original curved trasparents were replaced by multiface plain windows.

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The closeup photos seem to show that the camouflage had at least 3 shades: probably a brown background, with dark green and light sand small dots distributed in non-uniform way.

This seems to be the same camouflage the plane had when still in Republican service.

Some partial repaintings seem made, probably with some light sand.

Note the camouflaged prop blades.

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The Nationalist markings are well visible on this photo.


Image from Tupolev SB in action, Squadron/Signal


The S.Andrew's cross on the rudder seems painted in a very crude way.


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This is believed to be a photo of the same plane, but the black rounds with S.Andrew's crosses over the wings, visible on other photos, are absent here.

Image from Tupolev SB of M.Maslov


Another close up of the rear of the plane. Looks that the size of the dark blotches is very variable, and some parts look very light.

It can be that the Nationalists employed a very light sand for partial repaintings all around.

Here the S.Andrew's cross on the tail appear well executed.


The repaintings of the red bands on the fuselage and wings seems to match roughly the camouflage colors.



photo after a belly landing.




Below: reconstruction of the look of this plane.





At the end of the war, Grupo 24 surrended to Nationalists on 30 March 1939.

19 SB in Barajas air base were more or less serviceable.

Below, we see some of the planes. Their republican markings were altered after the capture: the purple band on the rudder of the planes (except n.52 at the date of the photo) was repainted, probably with a shade of yellow lighter than the one utilized by Republican, that contrasts. Besides the red bands on the fuselages were altered with a central light yellow band, that covered the previous codes; this alteration was later made on the red bands under the wings, while the red bands over the wings had already been deleted by Republicans by camo colors (perhaps not on n.46).

Many of the planes show a modified rear gunner position: the sliding hood was deleted, and an opaque metal windshield was added to protect the gunner's head against air flow.


This photo shows the planes of 24o Grupo just after the end of the war.

The first plane, marked 20W1, was very likely the one of the photos above.

Its rear part is already repainted with the new postwar camouflage, while the front and nacelles still bear a wartime dots camouflage.


Postwar service in Spain




Just after the war's end, in 1939, the surviving SB were repainted with a new splinter camouflage of German inspiration, probably made with Spanish-produced paints imitating Italian or German shades.

The colors were (probably):

  • light grey-green similar to German RLM 63;
  • medium grey-green similar to German RLM 62
  • dark red brown similar to RLM 61
  • light blue undersurfaces similar to RLM 65.

Image from Tupolev SB of M.Maslov


In a first time, Nationalist markings were applied:

  • 2 black stripes under each wing
  • black roundels with white S.Andrew's crosses above and below the wings
  • white wingtips
  • white rudder with black s.Andrew's cross;
  • black circle with red/white Yokes and Arrows emblem on the fuselage
  • code 20W followed by a number.

On this photo, we see that the front of the engine cowling was painted with the same livery of the nacelles, not black as seen on successive photos of other Spanish Katyuskas.




After some time, in 1939, the emblems on the wings were modified into red-yellow-red roundels with white wingtips and no black stripes.

The Yokes and Arrows on black background on the fuselage were kept red up to 1941, then they was changed into white on black background.

The white rudder with black S. Andrew's cross was preserved.

Here we see that the front of the engine cowling is dark on its lower part too; probably it was painted glossy black to improve the cooling.



The most part of the available photos suggest that the camouflage pattern was the same for the most of Spanish SB, but individual variations were possible.



Three SB inflight with the splinter camouflage.

The camouflage pattern is not visible due to exposure, but it seems that the farthest plane had a dark side of the fin, while it was light on the other visible planes.

So, it seems that some of the SB had a different camo pattern.



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Detail of postwar Spanish Katyuska. Some detail of the camouflage of the right wing can be seen.

It seems that the left side of the fin of the plane on the background was painted green instead of grey; the camo pattern allowed some variations.


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Detail of some postwas Spanish Katyuska. Here the propeller looks painted medium grey.


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planes 20W4 and 20 W 5 seem to show red-yellow-red tips of the propeller blades.

The prop blades were painted aluminum on 20W5, while seem medium grey on 20W4.

All the propellers hubs seem painted in medium grey.

Note the ventral aerial, a postwar addition.

Both planes seem to have a machine gun on the right slot of the nose only. It doesn't seem a ShKAS, probably it was replaced with a German built MG.


Plane 20W5 around 1940.


a reconstruction of the look of 20W5 around 1940; it was well representative of postwar Katyuskas.

Below: a reconstruction of the look of the plane after 1941, when the red color on the fuselage emblem was turned to white.



Below: a reconstruction of the camouflage pattern of 20W5, made on the base of photos of 20W1 and other Spanish planes with very similar camouflage pattern. It could be not identical on all planes, but it should be well representative.





plane 20W6. This features the original sliding hood for the rear gunner.

The profile of the ventral aerial under the fuselage is noteworty; this is a Spanish postwar installation, curiously similar to the aerial introduced on Soviet SBs in 1938 and never seen on Republican Katiuskas.

Other noticeable details include the rear part of the prop blades, that looks black on outer 2/3 and aluminum on the inner 1/3 as on prewar Soviet planes; the apparently green right side of the fin; the arrows and joke emblem moved more forward than on the left side.

Image from Tupolev SB of M.Maslov

The Ejercito de l'Aire kept its SBs serviceable up to December 1943, then they were grounded for lack of spare parts and replaced by Ju-88As.

The last two Spanish SBs were scrapped in 1948.



Tupolev SB of M.Maslov, ed. Icarus

Squadron-Signal in Action n.194- Tupolev SB



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