A Type 10 Indeed, is a Type 10 In Need

...Or, Celebrating the I-16 Type 10

With the release of the Airwaves I-16 Type 10 correction set, modelers will now turn their attention to locating a camouflage scheme for their accurate models. Type 10s are a fine choice, really, because their employment spans the breadth of VVS utilization: from Spain to China, from the Mongolian deserts to Finland.

As a result, one might expect that their colouration would tend to reflect that fact. Well, it does. Indeed, the Type 10 might have been the most widely coloured variant of the lot, if one looks at it in that way. And so, to assist with this "onerous" choice, we have elected to complete an article entirely devoted to this I-16 model.
This article has been updated with newer artwork and research. The original text will be left "as-is". This helps to track the progress of newer and better information, discoveries, and thoughts about VVS camouflage. Also it is fascinating to see how, or if, perceptions evolve. The updated text will appear in a box like this, and this should be seen when in contradiction to the original to be the correct current interpretation, supplanting the former.

I-16 Type 10 "Yellow 4"
Pilot  A. Brazovets
ca. winter 1939

"Yellow 4" is a curiosity in a number of ways, and was photographed at the very outset of the Russo-Finnish 'Winter War' of 1939-40. The paint scheme here (which is thought to be the pre-War AEh-5 or AEh-15 finish dark green), green with a black cowling, was no longer common by the time of Type 10 manufacture, being much more common on earlier Type 5 machines until 1937. Also unusual are the Circle type national stars, which are equally uncommon on I-16s, in general. Indeed, "Yellow 4" carried these markings in eight positions (including the wing upper surface), which is also odd. And lastly, the usual position for I-16s of this time period of the star on the fin (when seen) and the numeral on the rudder is here reversed.

The colour of the tail/rudder of this aircraft is a matter of protracted debate. In the photo (which was taken with 'journalist' type film), the exact nature of the colour is unclear. It seems to be darker than the red of the star markings, and also of the yellow numeral. One author has suggested that the colour was in fact 'Crimson' or 'Scarlet' red, based on some anecdotal evidence. This might well be, as I am not overly expert in the appearance of these difficult journalist type films. However, it is also well known that dark-ish blues of this shade were very much in vogue in the VVS at this time, and was widely used for trim colour and numerals, and so forth. On balance, I have completed the profile in this way, as it seems the more likely to me.
Update: It subsequently appears that this type of darker pre-War green was more common on the Type 10 than thought at the time. The finish is here shown as AEh-15, which is the likely varnish in these cases. The cowl is finished in AEh-11, but the undersurfaces are shown in AII Blue.

I-16 Type 10 "Blue 8"
Pilot  unknown
29 IAP
ca. 1939

I have seen two photographs of this delightful aircraft, and the captions on them contradict each other. One caption states that this aircraft belonged to St.Lt. Postnov at the time of the invasion of Poland, in September. The second caption attributes the machine to Dmitri Lavrenenko at the outset of the Winter War. In retrospect, it is theoretically possible that both are correct, or neither. The only agreement between the two is the assignment, the 29 IAP.

The finish of "8" is probably AEh-5 or AEh-15 green over the upper surfaces. The cowling is completed entirely in the upper colour, as is the spinner. There is a wonderful bordered star painted on the spinner, as well, and the numeral "8" is trimmed smartly in white. Plain red star national markings are worn in six positions (upper wing surface, as well).
Update: Again finished in AEh-15 with AII Blue unders.

I-16 Type 10 "Za VKP(b)"
Pilot  Gen.Maj. Ivan Lakeev
46 IAP
ca. June 1941

General-Mayor Lakeev is surely one of the overlooked heroes of the VVS during the 1930s, and the Great Patriotic War. Lakeev was an outstanding pilot of great skill, and a brilliant leader of men. He was, as well, a "fighting General" in the truest sense, refusing all orders (even a personal reprimand from Zhukov, himself) to remain on the ground and engaged in combat with his pilots. Lakeev scored heavily in the Spanish Civil War, piloting a Type 5 and a Type 10 there. Next, he participated in the Khalkin-Gol conflict, downing several Japanese machines. Lakeev was active in the Russo-Finnish 'Winter War', scoring again and being promoted to General rank.

This I-16 was the personal mount of Lakeev, then Gen-Maj., at the outset of the GPW. At this time he was assigned to the VVS KOVO (Kiev District HQ) staff, and based himself with the 46 IAP at Vasil'kov. The photo shows an aircraft that is very smartly turned out, with fresh looking AII Green paint and absolutely polished and shining stainless steel cowl bands. One suspects quite strongly that this was not the original finish of this aircraft, and surely it had received much attention (as was befitting a General, perhaps).

The inscription on the port side, in red, reads, "For the VKP(b)" (the 'VKPb' standing for 'the All-Union Communist Party, Bolshevik'). Along the upper spine is an inscription in white which is very hard to make out on the photo. I believe that it says "Imeni Lenina" ('Named after Lenin'), but subsequent better pictures might confirm or deny that. The cowl face and spinner are bright red, as is the flash on the rudder. One author has stated that this marking was related to Lakeev's service in Spain, but as the Spanish Republic's lowest colour was the purple shade, one wonders. In any case, it was quite attractive. Black bordered national stars were worn in six positions (upper wing also). Alas, the starboard side is not known in photographs, and one does wonder what might appear on it.
I-16 Type 10 "White 91"
Pilot  unknown
728 IAP
ca. Winter 1941-42

I-16 Type 10 "White 91" has ocassionally made an appearance in print, as there are several copies of this negative in Russian archives, and it is owned by a few authors. However, hitherto I do not believe that the machine has been done justice, and the known profiles of it tend to be somewhat questionable.

This aircraft probably began life as a simple AII Green/Blue scheme of 1939, the likely date of its manufacture. The job was very much Factory practice for the time, complete with an AII Blue spinner, and in this case the cowl bands were painted over. At some point, possibly in 1940 following the NKAP Camouflage Directive, a substantial pattern of AII Dark Green was applied over the base camouflage. Following this, for winter operations, MK-7 white distemper was applied, especially over the tail and wing surfaces. It is likely that the machine's tactical number was originally worn somewhere on the tail or rudder, because a "91" was added to the fuselage by hand using the same MK-7 finish.

The port side upper surface can be seen in the photograph, and has been recreated here. No view is available on the starboard side, and I have thus not attempted it. As well, it appears as if the landing gear cover doors have been removed, and that the wheel hubs were painted with MK-7, so modelers will want to take note of that.

The caption information for the various versions of this photograph vary widely. The aircraft is attributed to various pilots, and the unit is quoted to be the 13 IAP VVS-KBF, the 13 OIAE, and the 728 IAP, the date to range from 1940 to 1943, and so on. Two pilots appear in the photo, one abviously reporting to the other, and many suggestions have been made for their identities. On balance, the appearance and type of this aircraft lead me to believe that the 728 IAP was the likely owner, the timing probably 1941-42, and the pilots in the photo are not identified, in my mind, to any degree of confidence.
I-16 Type 10  no number
Pilots  Yakushin, Klevtsov, Shishkin, et al
Krasnaya Pyaterka Flight Demonstration Team
August 1939

These spectacular I-16 Type 10s were the mounts of the Krasnaya Pyaterka ('The Red Five') Flight Team during 1939-40. Three of the pilots from this time are identified, including Mayor M. Yakushin (Flight Leader), Pod.Polk. V. Klevtsov, and Kapt. Yu. Shishkin.

These machines, despite their appearance, were not tarted up display aircraft, but were in fact fully armed and combat ready fighters. The exact finish is a matter of speculation (albeit, it is certainly grey), but on balance it seems to be AEh-10 finish (which is slightly darker than the better known AEh-9 grey colour). The nose and cowling were black, and a delightful black trim ran the length of the fuselage to meet the stabilizer, bordered in white. Thin black bordered stars appeared on the fuselage and probably under the wings, but it seems that the wing upper stars might have been plain red types (more investigation will continue on that point). The entire tail and fin were painted a brilliant red.
Update: That may be a pure typo, but the finish is actually AEh-8, not -10. Cowling again is AEh-11, as is the spinner.

I-16 Type 10 "CM-193"
Pilot  Fransisco Arais
4a Escuadrilla de Moscas
ca. early 1939

"CM-193" was photographed in the Vilajuiga area in early 1939. Fransisco Arais was the pilot of this aircraft for most of its service life.

This Type 10 finished as were many Republican I-16s, in AII Green/Blue camouflage. The spinner is often depicted as black, but it is certainly possible that it might have been green (I have noticed that in many cases where the artwork shows black, the photograph demonstates green colouration); even though no view was available to me of the nose, I have finished it in green. The red fuselage band seems especially wide, and there is a "double-six" emblem on the fin.

Modelers wishing to build Spanish Civil War I-16s might consider the shade of AII Green to employ. Exposed to such tremendous amounts of sunlight, any machine that survived in service for long might well demonstrate very darkened AII Green paint, indeed in some cases no doubt approaching the appearance of AMT-4. In the artwork above I have not attempted such a darkened finish, but modelers experienced in SCW subjects might want to investigate the service history of their subject before proceeding.
Update: There has been much research and investigation on these pre-War finishes in Spain since the original writing. It is thought currently that many Soviet fighters built for Spanish service were finished in lacquers 3B over AEh-4. In this case, however, the aircraft looks to be rather dark. It is thus that this artwork shows a speculative appearance for the as-yet unknown Spanish aviation lacquers, Dark Olive and Light Blue. It may well be painted with these, or with 3B/AEh-4; modelers will have to have to use best judgement.

I-16 Type 10 "CM-177"
Pilot  unknown
4a Escuadrilla de Moscas
ca. autumn 1938

This I-16 was operated by the 4th Escuadrilla while at Los Monjos, fall 1938. The pilot of "CM-177" is unknown.

This aircraft demonstrates many similar features to "193", above, also of the same squadron. The fuselage band is equally large, and personal artwork is present on the fin. In this case, a "Popeye" cartoon figure is seen, one of several permutations of this character in this unit. The spinner appears to be white in colour.
Update: This scheme has been drawn using finishes 3B over AEh-4. The rather poor qualitiy and the nature of much of the film used in Spain makes any kind of certain identification of these colours exceedingly problematic.

I-16 Type 10 "CM-225"
Pilot  ?, Lt. Salvaredo
7a Escuadrilla de Moscas
ca. summer 1939

"CM-225" appears to be an aircraft with an eventful history, and was photographed on several occasions, both in Spain and in France. The appearance above was recreated from a photo of this aircraft in France in the summer of 1939. The previous appearance of "225" is still somewhat nebulous. Lt. Salvaredo is not acknowledged as being the usual pilot of this machine while it was in active service for the Republicans, but he did indeed pilot it to internment in France in 1939.

Once again wearing a fairly typical AII colour scheme, this machine sported a green cowling, and painted over cowl bands. The semi-circular feature is inevitably reproduced in drawings as being black in colour, as is the cowl. Neither supposition is correct, as the multiple views of "225" confirm. Indeed, without seeing the photo negatives, I would guess that this area is probably an effect caused by damage or mishandling of the negative, itself, and not a true feature of the machine. If it is indeed a real part of the machine's appearance, it is certainly no more than a slight discoloration, either representing a repair, dirt or grime, or a similar cause. The cowling itself certainly is stained with various grime, as shown, and is similar in appearance to the semi-circular area.

The fin, despite the poor quality of the available photographs, does seem consistent with being painted red. In all other respects, "225" is a typical Type 10.
Update: As stated previously, I regard these 'colouration' features to be somewhat questionable. However, in conversation with a Spanish colleague, a new interpretation of this machine struck me. In the first case, this aircraft does appear to be finished in AII lacquers. On the various pictures, taken with different film types, it does seem to have a lighter shade of green than usual. Also, the aircraft was late in the I-16 series; perhaps a late delivery batch? The discolouration on the cowl and spinner can also be explained very well by areas on the darker Spanish olive colour. There seems to be some repainting here, and also on the stabilizer fillet; possible repair work or some similar activity.

I-16 Type 10
Pilot  Lt. Ang Tschen
26 Chungtai
ca. summer 1938

This aircraft was photographed in service in the Hangkow area during the summer of 1938, and is thought to be the personal mount of pilot Ang Tschen of the 26 Chungtai [my transliteration of these Chinese names from Russian is probably a bit dodgey, so if I have butchered these terms or spellings, please forgive me]. There are, alas, no other details with the photo caption of this pilot save for his rank, that of Lieutenant.

The aircraft is a fairly typical Type 10 still wearing its VVS applied camouflage. A number of VVS fighters were repainted in China, and those are the examples wearing the infamous Chinese grey-green colouration all over (and I do mean, ALL over, as in everywhere). The colours here are AII Green and Blue, and the spinner appears to be white. The Chinese blue and white stripes were applied to the rudder, and Chinese National insignia appear on the wings, upper and lower surfaces. The two white circles over the guns are, I think, supposed to represent eyes.

The Chinese script has been reproduced from the photo, and as I have no understanding of the language whatever, I hold no significant hope that I have faithfully reproduced them. Indeed, I'd be happy to have printed gibberish and not something obscene! Similarly, I have no idea what the meaning of the text might be, nor of the accompanying stencil. Any assistance from our readers familiar with Chinese would be most helpful.