Red Army Armor Camouflage & Markings
- Published: 19 May 2012 19 May 2012
- Last Updated: 19 May 2012 19 May 2012
by Thorleif Olsson
First of all: During the war, Red Army did not adapt standardized tactical marking system. Therefore it can be hard to tell that they used that pattern from that date until that date and so on, and it also differs a lot from the German camoflauge patterns.
Painting & marking the T-34/76
The most common pattern for T-34/76 tanks was painting the entire tank in dark green. They were painted like this in June 1941, and reached Berlin in April of 1945 in the same way. Various types of paints & shades of green was used, everything from very light green to black green. In the winter vehicles were painted with washable Type B paint, but sometimes even with water mixed with lime. Most often the vehicles turned out white-green. Rarely, in the summer a two color scheme was painted, green and dark earth or ground brown. Even more scarce were a three color scheme of green, dark earth and yellow or red. Some vehicles were painted with two contrasting shades of green. Geometric and numerical markings were used, and this system was a compromise between overall military secrecy and organized command system. For example a T-34/76 marked with "87" on the turret showed that the tank belonged to the 114th Tank Brigade. Tactical number consisted of two, three or four digits, combination of two numbers or combination of geometrical sign and numbers were used. In some units, organized markings system was used allowing to specify e.g. company. Vehicles of the 1st Company had tactical markings beginning with "1" and from the 2nd Company with "2" and so on. In this case the second number was for platoon. Some Guards and Independent units had their own tactical markings such as geometric figures, letter etc. Sometimes tactical markings were mixed numbers and geometric figures. Tactical markings for the air recognition were also used, especially from 1943-45. During the battles at Don and Kursk white geometric figures were painted on top of the turret or engine compartment. During the Berlin operation from April 24th of 1945, special markings were applied as white stripes on the top and side of the turret. It was done with the knowledge of the high command for recognition by Allied airforce in the eastern and western Germany. From May 1st of 1945, white triangles painted on top of the turret were introduced.
On the sides of the turret and sometimes on the hull, patriotic or fundator signs were painted, few examples:
"Za Rodinu" (For the Motherland)
"Za Stalina" (For Stalin)
"Lidice" (Revenge for the German massacre on civilians in Czech village of Lidice)
They were applied using either white, yellow or red paint. On some tanks symbols for destroyed enemy equipment were painted on either the gun barrel or fenders. Very rarely national emblem was applied.
A red star was painted on the frontal part of the turret above or below the tactical marking. Very rarely it was painted on the front of the recoil mechanism of the tank gun (below the barrel). In Guards units, sometimes guard emblem was applied on the turret.
Soviet camoflauge patterns
KV-1 Model 1941/42 with standard brown paint.
Notice the painting on the turret where a soviet tank fires at Hitler
Suggestion: Use Humbrol's Dark Earth #29. Common in 1941/42. Were sometimes applied by factory.
KV-1S with standard green paint, Kursk, July 1943
Suggestion: Use Humbrol's "Matt Russian Green" #114. This pattern was painted on most vehicles, and it was often applied at the factory.
(Different situations, e.g Stalingrad, resulted in that tanks were driven directly from the factory to the battlefield w/o being painted.)
T-34/76 Model 1943 - "Staliniets". Dark green and dark earth paint with "106", a red star,
and the Order of the Red Banner below
Green & Dark Earth Pattern
Suggestion: Use Humbrol's "Matt Russian Green" #114. Then apply about 50% of either Humbrols "Matt Dark Earth" #29 or Tamiyas XF52 color.
Green & White Pattern
Suggestion: Use Humbrols "Matt Russian Green" #114. Then apply about 75-90% of one of the following colors: Humbrol #34, Gunze Sangyo #H11, Pactra #47 or Tamiya #XF2.
KV-1s, Winter 1942/43. The green base color is evident
Suggestion: Once again use Humbrols "Matt Russian Green" #114 as base color. Then wash over Humbrol #34 or Tamiya XF2 on the whole vehicle.
British Lend-Lease camouflage Pattern
Suggestion: Use Humbrol's "Matt Dark Green" #30. Standard on all British LL vehicles. Paint entire vehicle green.
American Lend-Lease camoflauge Pattern
Suggestion: Use Humbrol's "Matt Olive Drab" #155. Standard on all American LL vehicles. Paint entire vehicle olive drab.