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Opening the VVS Paint Can of Worms

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Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:12
1/144 Interest: Yes
Location: Ringwood, Victoria, Australia

Opening the VVS Paint Can of Worms


Post by smeg1959 »

Whilst waiting for various bits and bobs in order to complete an ever-increasing number of partially built kits in my Ferrero Rocher boxes (yes, including my Cold War pair), I have recently started on a resin kit from a true garage manufacturer in Japan. Indeed, I will have to rely upon those on the forum who can read Japanese to tell me who the mystery manufacturer is, assuming this info is included on the photocopied sheet that is the assembly instructions. I will hold off on identifying the aircraft other than to hint that (i) it was a prototype Soviet single-engined fighter of conventional design and (ii) this could well be the only model of it in any scale. Given the prodigious output in 1/72 of people like Igor at Unicraft, that’s really saying something.

So why the thread here? Well, I want to raise the matter of VVS colours of the Great Patriotic War, because I will obviously be painting the thing somewhere along the way. There are various schools of thought out there and, sadly, reading through numerous online resources, there’s been a lot of bad blood between the different camps. Some of you might be aware of the site Modeling the Aircraft of the Soviet VVS 1917 – 1950, co-founded by Erik Pilawskii and our very own Matt Bittner. Erik is a much published author on the topic of the VVS but, over the years, has drawn criticism over his interpretation of colours used by the service. Not sure of the history, but the level of vitriol appears to have gotten out of hand at times, and some of the exchanges don’t make pleasant reading IMHO. Whilst it does attest to the passion many have for “getting it right”, I never believe it should come to abuse. Alas, that’s unfortunately what we often get with the Internet. In the end, it defeated Erik, as he and Matt have pulled the plug on the site.

True, wherever possible, I try to “get it right” too, but I’m also cognisant of the perils of researching things that happened way back when. Whilst info on the RAF, USAAC, USN, Luftwaffe and IJN/ IJA is readily available, we in the West are still restricted in our access resources from behind the former Iron Curtain. And, if my reading of the situation is correct, a lot of the resources dating back to the period have disappeared in the meantime anyway. As one Britmodeller respondent aptly put it, “Unless someone’s got a time machine, who is to say what is right or wrong anyway?” Well said, that man.

As you can probably gauge from my builds over the years, I am a Luftwaffe tragic and, flying the flag, an avowed follower of the RAAF. The collection has plenty of contributions from the RAF, US forces and both the IJA and IJN. Surprisingly then, even to myself, my Soviet collection is meagre by comparison. True, I’ve got a few kits sitting in the stash that would swell the VVS representation on the shelves, but it’s still a mere fraction compared to other services. To further complicate matters, half of the "completions" are actually diecasts (albeit that the SB2 was repainted). Indeed, my sole built-up Polikarpov I-16 is the Nationalist one post the Spanish Civil War! To offset that a little, I do have a scratchbuilt Yermolayev Yer-2 that I acquired from the late Russ Chmela which, like all the items I bought from Russ, has a special place in the collection.

With so few true completions then, my knowledge of VVS colours is poor compared to, say, the RLM colours of the Luftwaffe. As is often the case when faced with deciding what paints I’ll use, I went online, visiting such faves as Urban’s Colour Charts. But even these got me nicely confused. The upper surfaces of the model I am building appears to have been finished in a light grey colour but (i) which one and (ii) what options do I have in the way of model paints? With the level of knowledge on the forum, I know I can get some pointers as to the palette I should put together, particularly as more VVS builds will be on my radar.

To start the ball rolling, here’s a list of VVS colours from WW2, taken from Erik and Matt’s site (incidentally, AII is an A and two I’s; it is NOT “ALL!”):

AII Green
AII Dark Green
AMT-4 Green
A-24m Green
AEh-15 Factory Green
AMT-6 Black
AEh-11 Black
AE-10 Wood Aehrolak
Industrial Metal Primer (sometimes referred to as IMUP)
ALG-5 Primer
A-14 Primer
AMT-11 Blue-Grey
AMT-12 Dark Grey (also referred to as Dark Sea Grey)
A-32m Dark Grey
AII Brown
AII Light Brown
AMT-1 Light Brown
All Blue
AMT-7 Blue
AEh-8 Grey
AEh-9 Grey
MK-7 White
Industrial Green
3B Green
AEh-4 Blue
A-21m Light Greyish Brown
Industrial Blue

Wege posted a link to which lists all these colours and more, and relates them to the Russian paint brand AKAN. Unfortunately, these babies are nigh on impossible to redirect Down Under. The table does list approximate FS595 equivalents where possible, but many of these don't equate to any known hobby paint, so it's back to base one. Sooooo .... feel free to add your suggestions for each and, obviously, expand the list if there are colours I’ve missed.

And yes, I know Vallejo have issued sets to cover some of these. But I’m waiting for all memory of my disasters from the RAF GB to be erased before returning there … ;-)
OTB ...
GB13 - Late 298 (Aeronavale), Bf109E-3a Strela (Bulgarian AF), Hurricane Mk I (257 Sqn RAF)

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