Classic Colours "Soviet AF
The full title of Erik Pilawskii's masterpiece is "Soviet Air Force Fighter
colours 1941 - 1945". ISBN 1 903223 30 X. Published in 2003 this book also
boasts colour profiles by Chris Banyai-Riepl. I bought my copy online from
Midland Counties. Anyone who knows Erik from his online work at
http://vvs.hobbyvista.com will know
that this is his life-long work and fascination. He has obviously spent many
years ploughing through obscure and arcane archives through Europe and
former Soviet Union to come up with his material. This is certainly THE
definitive work on the topic. However, having read this book thoroughly it
is quite clear that his work is littered with doubt. He repeatedly states
his subjective opinion and then qualifies it with an equally subjective
counter-point. I think he may be the first to admit that his work is
extremely difficult due to the nature of his research material. Record
keeping was not high on the list of Stalin's list of priorities during the
Great Patriotic War. To be honest his combat aircraft could have been
churned out painted in every possible variety of house paint that they had
lying around! Much of his deductions are from interpretations of black and
white photo's which are rendered into colours based upon quasi-science and
guesswork. In its favour there are a few fundamental truths here that are
partly of use to the model maker. I would recommend this for the main body
of the book which deals with colour schemes aircraft by aircraft - but don't
get too worked up by the doubts. This isn't gospel - just a work in
progress, and you'll find little better on this topic. The 224 pages also
feature numerous scale plans. Recommended for the model maker.
"Soviet Air Force Fighters" Part 1
Published in 1977 by Pilot Press Limited. My copy is the hard back version
and I bought it of EBay a couple of years ago. This was written by William
Green and Gordon Swanborough. William was a leading writer in the 1970's and
I recall he was behind compiling the Observer's Book of
This volume covers manufacturers alphabetically from Bereznyak-Isaev's B1
Rocket Interceptor thru to Nikitin-Shevchenko's IS-4 unusual convertiplane.
So this is pretty comprehensive stuff. You get 68 pages which includes
line-drawn layout diagrams, cutaways and some colour artwork. On the
down side the photo's are a little small and there is too much text but this
is not atypical for its era. Nice if you find a copy.
"Soviet Air Force Fighters" Part 2
Published in 1978 by Pilot Press Limited. My copy is a soft cover version
which was also purchased of EBay a couple of years ago. This was written by
William Green and Gordon Swanborough. William was a leading writer in the
1970's and I recall he was behind compiling the Observer's Book of Aircraft.
manufacturers alphabetically from Petlyakov's Pe-3 through to Yakovlev's
Yak-9P. So this is pretty comprehensive stuff. Similar to volume 1 above you
get 80 pages which includes line-drawn layout diagrams, cutaways and some
colour artwork. On the down side the photo's are a little small and
there is too much text but this is not atypical for its era. Nice if you
find a copy.
Herbert Leonard "Encyclopaedia of Soviet Fighters"
Published by Histoire & Collections in France in 2005. Translated from the
French by Alan McKay. Three view line drawings and the detailed cutaway are
by the author Herbert Leonard. Colour Artworks are by Nicolas Gohin. A truly
beautiful book and excellent value! This mighty volume is packed with colour
from front to back and boasts 208 pages. You get a physically large book in
a hardcover but no dust jacket (in my copy). It has a really unusual layout
in that it works forward chronologically from 1939 to 1951 detailing
Aircraft Developments in EACH year separately. Hence several long serving
types appear several times through the book. The popular types are well
covered in excellent detail whilst more obscure types crop up - some unseen
in other, similar, works. Each type is labelled as "Preliminary Design or
Study", "Flying Prototype", "Unfinished Prototype" or "Front Line Fighter".
As such it represents a year by year snapshot of everything going on in
Fighter development for that period. Several types covered get close
attention to various changing airframe details in line drawings which should
be of value to the Modeller. Sadly, although the drawings look often like
scale plans no scale is published. Picture coverage is ample and crisp but
often on the small side. The pages or more dominated by the lush colour
artworks and the line drawings. Text is authoritative but probably
containing little not seen elsewhere. The translation into English is mostly
excellent although there are some obviously tortuous sections! Thoroughly
recommended and vastly superior to the regular coffee-table stocking fillers
that vaguely resemble this book. All VVS fans should own this book!
"Colours of Falcons" Jiri Hornat/Bob Migliardi
ISBN 0 9739994 0 3. Published in 2006 by Iliad Design. Never has a book
promised so much yet delivered so little. I waited well over a year to take
delivery of this book and it cost over £13 from the Aviation Bookshop in the
UK. The outer cover has "colour" spelt the American way, ie, "color" yet the
inside cover has it in the English spelling "colour". This idiosyncrasy
aside, the biggest disappointment is that, for a book that proclaims the it
is about the "colour/color" of Stalin's Falcons, there is almost NO colour
in the book! This is scandalous. The book is very bad value for money in
being only 56 pages long. Of this you get just FOUR pages of single-side
aspect colour artworks (one example shown here). Even worse, practically
EVERY photo published here has been published before elsewhere over and over
again. You get deja vu at almost every page turn. Where the book is useful
is if you actually read the text. The detail of the "colours" is buried in
the text. It is a mix of history and technical colour detail. This makes an
interesting contrast to the authoritative "Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours"
by Erik Pilawskii. I am no expert but I would guess that this will be of
interest to those who are really interested in the minute details of VVS
camouflage. It could be more or less accurate than Erik's work.
is largely subjective but it is nice to have two decent books on the topic.
However, for a pleasurable read, the Pilawskii book would be top of the
list. This version is rather more for the completist who wants and
alternative point of view and something to cross-reference the other work
against. Unlike Erik's work, this small book covers more than fighters so,
unless Erik publishes a Vol II of his work for VVS Bombers, then this will
be the only colour guide you will get for the heavy-weights and flying
boats. Useful for that but otherwise not highly recommended for the casual
Osprey "Soviet Aces of World War 2"
Published by Osprey (Del Prado) in 1999. Text by Hugh Morgan with
artwork and drawings by Iain Wyllie, John Weal, Mike Chappell and
Mark Styling. The book is 64 pages long with two pages at the rear
of random scale drawings. There are twelve pages of
colour artwork including two showing pilot uniforms. There are lots
of interesting photos although many have been seen elsewhere. This
is not really aimed at the modeller so there isn't the detail you
would expect. This is a bit of light reading for the coffee table
and an intro to the topic. Interesting little book but not of
tremendous use. These books are not widely regarded as being
Tietoteos "Red Stars in the Sky 1"
Published by Tietoteos in 1979 this volume covers fighter aircraft
both indigenous and foreign in the service of the VVS. There is very
little text and, of that, half is in Finnish anyway. Large glossy black
and white photographs dominate the slim
It only boasts 48 pages but it is in a large Letter format so a
little goes a long way. At the back you get two pages of colour
artwork (plus one at the front on the inside cover). You also get
good scale drawings of the I-16 and its various subtypes. Other
artworks are all rendered in black and white - how very annoying!
Most of the photo's can be found elsewhere but they are presented
well here and it is an enjoyable flick through.
Tietoteos "Red Stars in the Sky 2"
Published by Tietoteos in 1981 this volume covers twin-engined
fighter and multi-engined bomber aircraft both indigenous and
foreign in the service of the VVS. There is very little text and, of
that, half is in Finnish anyway. Large glossy
and white photographs dominate the slim tome. It only boasts 48
pages but it is in a large Letter format so a little goes a long
way. At the back you get two pages of colour artwork (plus one at
the front on the inside cover). There are no scale plans in this
volume two. Other artworks are all rendered in black and white - how
very annoying! Most of the photo's can be found elsewhere but they
are presented well here and it is an enjoyable flick through.
"Soviet Combat Aircraft/Second World War" Vol 1
Volume One of a two-parter this was published by Midland Publishing
Limited in 1998. Written by Yefim Gordon and Dmitri Khazanov. You
get 184 pages with just four pages of colour artwork at the rear.
Everything else is black and white photo's and fortunately these are
reproduced crisply on glossy paper. Photo's dominate about 50%, text
40% with 10% given over to some basic three view layout drawings.
There are no scale plans.
The text is authoritative although I know that errors have been
pointed out with these two volumes. This work covers the single
engined fighters and prototypes of Bereznyak-Isaev, Bisnovat,
Borokvok-Frolov, Gudkov, Ilyushin, Kozlov, Lavochkin, MiG, Nikitin,
Pashinin, Polikarpov, Silvanasky, Sukhoi, Tomashevich, Yakovlev and
Yatsenko. A lot to take in and so few of them were successful. A
nice piece of general resource for the model maker and historian
"Soviet Combat Aircraft/Second World War" Vol 2
Published by Midland Publishing Limited in 1999. Written by Yefim
Gordon and Dmitri Khazanov with Alexander Medved. This Volume Two
covers "Twin-Engined Fighters, Attack Aircraft and Bombers". This
great book has 176 pages and, for your money, you get a few layout
diagrams and a few colour profiles. However black and white photo's
dominate the book but this is inevitable given the subject matter.
This book does not appear to be aimed specifically at model makers.
It is a resource book and given its Authors this is a very
creditable piece of work.
However, there are errors and if you look online at the VVS Forums
you will see a published list of errors with these books. Putting
that to one side you do get nice big glossy pictures and every
possible technical detail you could imagine. Of the twin-engined
fighter aircraft makers included you get to see the work of Grushin,
MiG, Moskalev, Petlyakov, Polikarpov, Tairov and Tupolev. Bomber
makes covered include Bartini/Yermolayev, Belyayev, Ilyushin,
Myasishchev, Tupolev and Arkhangelsky. Others getting a look in
include Bolkhovitinov, Kocherigin, Neman, Sukhoi, Tomashevich and
Yakovlev. An extremely worthy and definitive guide to the topic.