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Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-45


by Erik Pilawski

Classic Publications



S u m m a r y

ISBN: 1 903223 30- X
Media: Hard cover; 224 pages; 9" x 12" in portrait format, more than 300 photos and 250 colour illustrations
Price: $56.95 plus shipping, online from Specialty Press
Review Type: First Read
Advantages: The most detailed examination of camouflage and markings for Soviet fighter aircraft in the English language; logically structured by aircraft type; very helpful colour profiles, line drawings and camouflage plan illustrations; interesting additional information on Soviet fighter development and performance.
Disadvantages: Does not cover Lend-Lease fighter types
Recommendation: Highly Recommended


Reviewed by Brett Green

Classic Publications' "Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-45"
is available online from Squadron.com




Reference books in the English language on Soviet WWII fighters are still quite rare, although the situation for VVS fans is improving. There is some coverage of specific types in recent titles; and Midland Publishing's "Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War Volume 1: Single Engined Fighters" by Yefim Gordon and Dmitry Khazanov is a helpful introduction to the overall topic.

Even so, the specific and complex issue of camouflage has not been tackled in detail - until now.

Erik Pilawski has written the definitive English language book on Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-45.

The book is presented in hard cover, with 224 glossy pages in 9" x 12" format.

The text commences with a Preface which proposes that most Western histories of the role and record of the VVS is dishonest, wildly inaccurate and vastly underestimates the effectiveness and importance of Soviet air power during the Great Patriotic War. The author then goes on the assert that "...the Red Army Air Force...accomplished infinitely more than all of the Allied Air Forces combined". This, and a few other statements, seems to disregard the sacrifice of other Allied airmen, and really requires further evidence to sustain the argument. It should be kept in mind, though, that this is a five paragraph section in a 224 page book.

The main subject matter is tackled first with a Glossary, then an insightful table of VVS colours of the old and new systems. This table alone serves as an aid to help understand the confusion about VVS colours, as there were wide discrepancies between factory designations and the multiple common field names. A further complication is the lack of a single standard for comparison to these colours. Indeed, some of the colours do not have equivalents in the FS, Pantone or Methuen colour ranges.

Next, the colour schemes of the old and new system are described, followed by a discussion about regional and naval aviation; and the use of templates.

Armaments, powerplants and aircraft are also examined.

This helpful initial 30 pages is followed by the description of camouflage schemes for each operational native Soviet fighter type. These chapters are really the heart of the book, and they specifically cover:

  • LaGG-3

  • LaGG-5, La-5FN and La-7

  • MiG-I-200, MiG-1, MiG-3

  • I-15, I-152, I-153

  • I-16

  • Yak-1

  • Yak-7, UTI-26

  • Yak-9

  • Yak-3

These chapters take up more than 160 pages and are a most valuable and well-organised source of reference. The Soviet camouflage and markings of Lend-Lease fighters is not included, but I do hope that a future volume will cover this interesting subject too.

Each chapter kicks off with a description of the development, operation and wartime record of the aircraft type. This includes statistical tables, line drawings and variant explanations. This is followed by a detailed description of camouflage colours and patterns supported by captioned wartime photos and three-view colour diagrams of all major camouflage pattern variations.

Forty colour profiles by Chris Banyai-Riepl are the icing on this tasty cake, providing a wide selection of schemes as inspiration for modellers.

The format really is excellent. The information is equally good, and quite surprising in some instances.





Erik Pilawski's "Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-45" is set to become a classic reference for anyone interested in Soviet fighter camouflage and markings.

With its groundbreaking text, ample illustrations and detailed descriptions of individual aircraft and their colours, this should be an essential companion to any modeller interested in Soviet fighter aircraft.

Highly Recommended.

Thanks to Karin from Specialty Press for the review sample

"Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours", and other Classic books, may be purchased through
specialist bookstores worldwide or fro
m Specialty Press Website

Review Copyright 2004 by Brett Green
This Page Created on 23 February, 2004
Last updated 23 February, 2004

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