Hurricanes in VVS Service

Part 1:  The Oddities

In this new series of colour profiles we will hope to re-examine some of the interesting  colour schemes to be found on Hawker Hurricane fighters serving within the VVS. These interpretations are new, based on recent work which has been undertaken to both draw and measure these aircraft afresh, and taking into consideration some additional information which has to come to light since 2003 regarding the painting practices of field units and organisations within the VVS structure.

It should be stressed that any definitive conclusions about the appearance of these aircraft is not possible at this time. I have no expertise in the field of RAF camouflage, and whilst working from excellent resource material, I have not undertaken physical studies of these paints nor their properties. The resulting character of the various British paints, and the Soviet ones used to modify their appearance, is therefore theoretical in nature, and represents my own attempt to find the most likely solution which fits the current evidence.
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White 14

This Hurricane Mk.IIb is known from a few photographs, but alas all of which would appear not be to of the highest quality. Damage to the prints (or negatives) is evident in every case. However, be that as it may, some estimation of the appearance of "14" is possible.

The aircraft exhibits obvious and thorough re-finishing. The basic underlying colouration is certainly the original RAF camouflage of Dark Earth and Dark Green, and this would seem to equate best with the 'A' pattern application. Having examined a large number of re-painted Hurricanes in VVS service, it appears to be the case that Black was used quite commonly for such purposes, indeed in preference in many cases to Green colours. One may suspect that this had to do with the very dark appearance (by VVS standards) of the RAF's Dark Green colour, and in fact on Soviet types of film stock the tonal appearance of the two colours is often nearly (or, entirely) indistinguishable.

Many interpretations of "White 14" heretofore (including my own) have shown the use of various exotic colouration, including lacquers such as AII Brown and AE-10. Upon reflection, I am now satisfied that the appearance can, in fact, best be explained by the use of much more typical paints. I suspect that the finishes used were of the AMT variety. We can see from the physical record that most field repair and re-painting operations favoured very strongly the use of AMT lacquer. One presumes that this was based upon the adhesive properties of AMT and was not related in any sense to colouration, as such. In this case, it would seem that an area of AMT-4 Green was applied around the cockpit, and onto the wing root. The remainder of the re-painting work looks very much to consist of AMT-6 Black applications to cover the required areas, including the rudder, fuselage, and so forth.

The various unpainted 'bands' showing the underlying colouration are interesting, and they appear in most versions of these photographs, suggesting that they may be an actual feature and not an artefact of the damage to the images. The light colour appliqué could certainly be MK-7 White, but I have drawn it here using AEh-9 Light Grey (the contrast to me seems incompatible with white). The spinner has been left in Sky colouration, and the undersurface re-painting is simply speculative (although slightly suggested in one image). Curiously, wing upper surface stars have been applied to '14'.

"White 14" looks to have retained its original armament of 12 x .303 Browning machine-guns at the time it was photographed. The aircraft is said to have been in service with the VVS along the North-West Front, and some authors have claimed that it might have belonged to the 78 IAP (which is by no means confirmed).

White 92

"White 92" is another Mark IIb, although it has been modified with the preferred Soviet armament scheme of one 12.7 mm UBS and one 20 mm ShVAK in each wing. Underwing RO rocket rails do not seem to have been installed at the time.

Once more, the original RAF colouration of Dark Earth and Dark Green is in evidence, and again seemingly in an 'A' type pattern. The subsequent re-painting in the field by Soviet sources, however, was very complex in nature, and suggests an attempt to create a disruptive camouflage effect. On '92' it seems that a considerable amount of AMT-4 was applied to the upper fuselage and fin. The the latter location exhibits a rather interesting appearance, with re-paining perhaps completed in 'phases' over time, and certainly with an intent to provide a sense of patternation. The use of AMT-4 here seems to have been haphazard, and not applied with the same opacity as elsewhere on the airframe.

The refinishing work on this example followed major panel areas in many cases. Indeed, the starboard panel below the fuselage might have been removed during re-painting work, judging by the appearance. The use again of lacquers AMT-4 and AMT-6 is quite logical, noting that at the time Black/Green colouration was the standard fighter camouflage in use for the VVS. The spinner would seem to have been left in Sky, and the undersurface appearance is an estimation.

"White 92" is notable also for the very poor application of the national red star marking. This insignia was clearly applied by hand, and is grotesquely misshapen. The tactical number '92' seems to have received similar treatment, and the result is a quite unprofessional appearance.

Images of "White 92" are published in many sources. We suggest to examine Red Stars Vol. 5, page 18.

"No Number"

This Hurricane IIb may be of slightly later manufacture as compared to the previous examples, and sports the later style 'fish-tail' type exhaust stacks (although, of course these could be replacement items). When examining the two photographs (see below) it occurred to me that the machine in the close-up showing the nose, and the one appearing partially in view to the right, and aft, may well be the same aircraft. The following profile is based upon that assumption.

Full VVS style armament has been installed in this Hurricane, including six RO82 rocket rails. MK-7 White winter finish had been applied somewhat carefully to the upper surfaces, and minus the effects of wear it was probably-- in its original guise-- quite solid. A curious demarcation line for this white colouration is seen on the fuselage, perhaps 1/3 of the distance upwards. Subsequently, of course, a fair amount of the MK-7 had worn away by the time of the photograph, which was quite typical in service.

Not much of the upper surface colouration remains in view. However, the undersurfaces are clear and certainly agree with the usual appearance of Sky colouration on Soviet films. Therefore, the upper surface scheme has been completed with the expected RAF style in Dark Earth and Dark Green. No tactical number may be seen in either view. The spinner looks to remain in Sky paint. Very considerable exhaust staining is evident on the fuselage. The possibility of the wing undersurface having received a 'blob' of re-painting colour is suggested by light reflections in the close-up image to starboard, and are here shown completed with AII Blue lacquer.