The Russian Aviation Colours 1909-1922: Camouflage and Markings, Vol. 2 Great War

Published: January 3rd, 2017     
Product Image
Front cover
Author: Marat Khairulin, Boris Stepanov
Reviewed by: Frank Landrus - IPMS# 35035
Company: Mushroom Model Publications, Stratus
ISBN #: 978-83-65281-00-5
Other Publication Information: Editor: Roger Wallsgrove, Illustrator: A. J. Kazakov, Hard Bound, A4 [8.27” x 11.69”], 176 pages
Price: $75.00
Product provided by: Casemate Publishing

Following up the first book in this series, The Russian Aviation Colours 1909-1922: Camouflage and Markings, Vol. 1 Early Years, comes MMP's latest tome. This book, focused on the 'Great War' is planned to be followed by at least two additional volumes on 'Red Stars' (Volume 3), and 'Against Soviets' (Volume 4). The authors leaned heavily on Russian private archives, as well as archives, libraries, and museums.

The book is a nice hardbound, with a nice glossy cover, and 176 pages on high-quality stock with a matt finish. Mainly clear black and white period photos are supplemented with modern day color photos, color period posters and postcards, color side and top views, and color unit emblems and personal markings. The text is in English and quite readable.

Chapter 4 kicks off focusing on 'At the Height of the Great War' following the last chapter in Volume 1 in this series. The fast pace of the war, both in aircraft development and operational support, brought on new difficulties of keeping the different air units operational. A shortage of aircraft, spare parts, and most importantly trained crews, severely impacted the war effort. An additional impact was the requirement that the air crews needed to stay close to the front to be effective, and that front changed quickly. The authors again use the memoirs of Vyacheslav Marveyevich Tkachev, the commander of the 20th Corps' Aviation Otryad to illustrate just how significant the problems of being mobile were. On top of that issue was the Army's enthusiasm at shooting at anything in the air, whether it be friend or foe. These issues were eventually addressed and corrected, at least to some extent.

The next section of this book addresses the evolution of colors and markings for each of the Russian aviation units. The need for quick recognition of friend vs foe in the air (as well as on the ground) became paramount. The authors cover each unit and their markings, providing great depictions of these in photographs and color plates. An excellent example is represented by pages 82 [see below] and 83 depicting a Nieuport 23. You get two clear photographs; left, right and top views in color; and detail of the markings in three scrap views. The section on 'Luck Charms and Souvenir Inscriptions' is very interesting with a great discussion on the relationship between pilots and their 'lucky' charms. Animal mascots were popular as were other symbols. There is a nice photograph of a German Eindekker pilot with a stuffed teddy bear attached right behind the pilot just as an example. Special metal plaques were available. The demand for 'Zoza' dolls was quite high for pilots. These dolls were made of waterproof fabric and represented funny people, animals, or other characters. One picture shows these dolls attached to the wing struts.

The last section covers factory emblems, covering nine aviation factories. Some of this detail is fascinating. One in particular is the V.A. Lebedev logo of a swan that was dead set in the center of the national insignia, but was so small it would be difficult to discern in most photographs. This is addressed with black and white photographs and color plates showing off the detail.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Part 2 - Great War
    • 4th Chapter - At the Height of the Great War
    • 1st Siberian Corps Aviation Otryad
    • 4th Siberian Corps Aviation Otryad [Page 14]
    • 9th Siberian Corps Aviation Otryad
    • Grenadier Corps Aviation Otryad
    • Special Combat Aviation Group of the Southwestern Front
    • 1st Combat Aviation Group
      • 1st Combat Aviation Group HQ [Page 35]
      • 19th Corps Aviation Otryad
      • 4th Corps Aviation Otryad
      • 2nd Corps Aviation Otryad [Page 52]
    • 2nd Combat Aviation Group
      • 2nd Combat Aviation Group HQ
      • 3rd Corps Aviation Otryad
      • 7th Corps Aviation Otryad
      • 8th Corps Aviation Otryad
    • 3rd Combat Aviation Group
      • 1st Corps Aviation Otryad
      • 11th Corps Aviation Otryad
      • 22nd Corps Aviation Otryad [Page 82]
    • 4th Combat Aviation Group
      • 5th Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 13th Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 14th Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 15th Fighter Aviation Otryad
    • Fighter Aviation Otryads
      • 1st Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 2nd Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 3rd Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 4th Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 6th Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 7th Fighter Aviation Otryad [Page 120]
      • 8th Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 9th Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 10th Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 11th Fighter Aviation Otryad
      • 12th Fighter Aviation Otryad
    • Lucky Charms and Souvenir Inscriptions [Page 143]
      • Factory Emblems
      • First Russian Aeronautics Company
      • Aviation Department of Russia-Baltic Railway Car Factory
      • Yu. A. Meller's 'Dux' Aktsionernoye Obshchestvo [Page 165]
      • F. E. Mosca Factory
      • A. A. Anatra's Aircraft Factory
      • "V. A. Lebedev" Aktsionernoye Obshchestvo Vozdukhoplavaniya
      • V. V. Slyusarenko's Aircraft Factory
      • F. F. Tereshchenko's Aircraft Factory
      • Savel'yev-Zalewski Quadruplane

I was extremely impressed with the coverage and quality of this title. The authors were able to incorporate a tremendous amount of information and still manage to provide a compelling and readable storyline. I cannot wait until the succeeding Volumes are published! To see a video of the book's contents, check out:

My thanks to Casemate and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this excellent book.

Highly recommended!

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Page 14
    Page 14
  • Page 35
    Page 35
  • Page 52
    Page 52
  • Page 82
    Page 82
  • Page 120
    Page 120
  • Page 143
    Page 143
  • Page 165
    Page 165

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