On this page I’ve tried to create a comprihensive list of the paintings an camouflages utilized by the VVS, the soviet air force in the period leading up to the second world war to a bit thereafter. It is based mostly around the research of Mikhail Orlov. Even though I’ve tried to create this list carefully, mistakes are possible.
The shown colours are an approximation. The exact colours are often difficult to determine, and could vary from factory to factory and fade over time. The displayed colour can also differ depending on the monitor used. The shown expamples should only be regarded as general approximations.
Prior to second world war, or Great Patriotic War as the Russians call it, a few old systems were still in use on older planes, namely “A”, “AEh” and “AE”. When the war broke out in June 1941 they were already abandoned for the AMT system.
Relevant Government Institutions
VVS: Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily. Lit Military Air Forces. Air force of the Soviet Union from 1918-1991.
NKAP: Narodniy Kommisariat Aviatsionoy Promishlinosti. Lit. People’s Commissariat for the Aviation Industry.
NIIIT: Scientific-Test Institute of Technical Engineering
UVVS Upravlenie Voyenno-Vozdushnikh Sili Directorate of the Air Force
Аэроэмали [Aeroemali, Aircraft enamels] were aviations paints and varnishes on an oil enamel base to be used on metal surfaces.
AЭ colours were oil enamels for external use, and were resistant to atmospheric influences.
|gloss. Overall colour early metal planes|
|Overall surface colour of some eearly bombers|
|The paint was designed for external duraluminium surfaces on aircraft, however it chalked in after a short period in open air conditions, and was quickly replaced with AE-8 on exterior surfaces. It was still used for internal surfaces. Officially introduced in January 1938, but could be used earlier accoridng to emergency specifications.|
|Underwater parts of wooden seaplanes|
|backside of metal blades|
|internal surfaces of wooden waterplanes
Underwater parts of wooden seaplanes
A-X / A-Xф
In 1940 The Э disappeard from the designation. An “ф” [f] could be placed behind the code to denote it was an alkyd paint instead and was alchohol soluable.
|Fuel systems, Propeller blade tips|
|general interior colour|
|A-18ф [A-18f]||Light Blue|
|Alkyd enamel for undersurface camouflage|
|A-19ф [A-19f]||Light Green|
|Alkyd enamel for upper camouflage|
These were a series of matte, multi purpose surface primers, which were painted over by regular camouflage schemes.
|Oil based primer for aluminium and magnesium alloys. The shade wasn’t standardized and could range from light yellow to chromate green. Unlike other primers, there are no known cases where this primer was used as a surface finish.|
|mix of 50/50 ALG-1 and A-14. After 1943 this was recommended by the NKAP as the standard cockpit finish.|
|Industrial Metal Use Primer. The offical designation of this primer is unknown. Found commonly onf steel and duraluminium surfaces. IMUP Is not an aviation laquer, and was widely used in Soviet manufacturing.|
The AII or A2 family were a series of nitroc cellulose laquers. They were quite durable and were fire retardant. While they had a shiny finish when new, this quickly became satin to matt under influence of the elements. The laquer also didn’t adhere very well to untreaded surfaces and a coating of primer under the laquer was recommended.
The name comes from Аэролаки [Aerolaki, Aerolacs or aircraft dopes] and the roman numeral II, indicating they were for the 2nd coat. As opposed to AIH [AIN], which were transparant laquers used for the first coating.
an п [p] or an к [k] was placed behing the code to indicate the paint was optimized for brush or airbrush respectively. The only difference was the viscocity.
Please note that research to these colours is still ongoing. A multiple of different names is also used for this series in different documents, such as ‘tobaco’, orange’ and ‘cream’.
|Official name||Colour||FS equivalent||Gunze||Tamiya||Vallejo||Hataka|
|Used for the star insignia|
|Used for the star insignia and markings|
|AII-light grey||FS-25466 to FS-35550||71.317|
|Overall surface of some pre/early war planes. Introduced 1937.|
|FS-25466 to FS-35550||71.317|
|undersurface of mixed construction planes
very brilliant colour, however shine fades fast
|FS-24258 to FS-34151||71.410|
|undersurface of mixed construction planes
very brilliant colour, however shine fades fast.
While the colour is very well known trough large amounths of physical evidence, the official name of this colour is still debated. The most commonly used are “green” and “Zashchitnyi”, meaning protective. The NIIIT referred to this colour as “AII Yellow-Green” and the VIAM as “Light green”. Introduced 1940.
|upper surface camouflage|
|FS-10111 to FS-30206|
|upper surface camouflage. Introduced 1940.|
|FS-10260 to FS-30480|
|upper surface camouflage|
|upper surface camouflage|
AMT-X / AGT-X
End 1941, a series of specifications for a new series of aviation finishings was drawn up known as ‘AMT’, or aerolak Matoviy for use on mixed construction aircraft. These were ordered together with the A-Xm series for all metal aircraft, however these paints were introduced much later. Due to large shortages and the harsh winter of 1941, the indroduction of these new laquers happened only gradually, and the usage of pre-war finishes was used up to 1945, sometimes together with the new laquers.
The primary reason for these new paints was that they could be applied without a primer, and were very durable.
The delivery of the first three colours, AMT-6 Black, AMT-4 Green and AMT-7 Blue began begin 1942 to LaGG and Yak fighter programs. These were manufactured using the same pigments as their AII counterparts and only later new colours were introduced, which also bore a close resemblance to earlier finishes.
|AMT-1||Light Brown||FS 30372||H-072
|Upper surface camouflage of all aircraft types except fighters together with AMT-4 and AMT-12. Fades to a darker shade.|
|Upper surface camouflage|
|Upper surface camouflagepropeller blades|
|Undersurface of planes.|
|Upper surface camouflage together with AMT-12|
|Upper surface camouflage together with AMT-11|
AXX-m / AXX-g
The Ax-m were a family of alkyd enamel paints. They were ordered in 1941 alongside the AMT paints, but no evidence exists of their usage until fall 1943.
It was lighter then the AMT line, but less robust and didn’t stick very well to wood and was therefore restricted to metal surfaces.
|Upper surface camouflage of all aircraft types except fighters together with A-24m and A-32m|
|Upper surface camouflage of all aircraft types except fighters together with A-21m and A-32m|
|While ordered, no evidence exists of it’s usage and no samples are known. It is possible that this paint was used for propellors, as described by Album Vozdushnyikh Vintov from 1943|
|No evidence exists of the usage of A-28m during the second world war, as all airframes painted with Ax-m upper surfaces still use AMT-7 for the underside. The usage is confirmed from 1948 onward.|
|Upper surface camouflage of all aircraft types except fighters together with A-21m and A-24m
Upper surface camouflage of fighter aircraft together with A-33m
|Upper surface camouflage of fighter aircraft together with A-32m|
|black wash for under surface of night bombers, removable. F variant was alchohol soluable|
|MK-7 was developed as a cheap paint that could easily be applied and removed on the front lines, was safe to handle by ground crew and was workable under very low temperatures. It consisted of a paste of chalk and 0.1%-0.2% aquamarine and a bonding agent made of casein glue. It was water and kerosine soluable, the latter only recommended for low temperatures. It gave a nice matte white surface. It was also indistinguishable from snow in the ultraviolet colour spectrum.
The wash became available early 1942 and was pushed to field units and factories and was used with great vigor. However this paint was, remarkably for the VVS, never tested, and impacted the flight performance of aircraft significantly due to its drag inducing rough surface. Depending on the size of the chalk, a speed loss of 10-25 km/h was achieved. It was also discovered that the wash didn’t adhere very well to AII-x laquers, resulting in the wash being almost gone near the end of the winter.
For these reasons a new variant was developed for the winter ’42-’43. MK-7f with an alchohol solvent and MK-7sh, which was said to be simular to plaster. However the usage of MK-7 gave considerable drag on airframes, and no variant managed to remove this, and these new variants were only deployed at select factories.
During the winter the usage of MK-7 greatly reduced. Many fighter pilots refused to use MK-7, preferring preformance of stealth. Some choose to apply it to select parts of the plane, making a compromise between performance and camouflage. Bombers kept using the wash more as concealment was more important than performance, however bomber crews also opten for half-white winter schemes often.
By the winter of ’43-’44, nothing was left of the original enthousiasm for MK-7, and only a small group of bombers choose to use the wash.
|Alternative for MK-7 based on gypsum. In terms of handling, AB-1 was very simular to MK-7, and even closer to snow in terms of camouflage. While used on Sukhoi Su-2 aircraft from Factory No. 135 in the Ural mountains, it wasn’t really used much elsewhere.|
|Due to chalk shortages, alternatives for MK-7 were tested, S-1 being on albaster basis.|
|Due to chalk shortages, alternatives for MK-7 were tested, S-1 being on lime basis.|
|Due to chalk shortages, alternatives for MK-7 were tested, S-1 being on gypsum basis.|
|undersurface of night bombers, permanent|
lacquer No.67 asfaltoviy. Bombs were painted double, first normally with the markings and then with asfatoviy, a dark grey , slightly sticky laquer which was easily removed with turpentine, presumably to check the markings.
E. Pilawskii, Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-1945. Classic Publications (2004). ISBN 978-1903223307
M Góralczyk, G. Högl, J. Kiroff, N. Millman, M. Orlov, Real Colors of WWII Aircraft. AK-interactive (2019) ISBN 8435568300385