The Russian Aviation Colours 1909-1922: Vol. 3, Camouflage and Markings, Red Stars

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Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Marat Khairulin
Other Publication Information
: Hard Cover, Square Bound, A4 [8.6” x 12.0”], 167 pages
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Following up the first two in this series, The Russian Aviation Colours 1909-1922: Camouflage and Markings, Volume 1 Early Years and Volume 2 “Great War”, comes MMP’s latest tome. This book, focused on the ‘Red Stars’ is planned to be followed by at least one additional volume on ‘White Armies’ (Volume 4). The authors leaned heavily on Russian private archives, as well as archives, libraries, and museums.

The book is a nice hardbound unit, with a nice glossy cover, and 167 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, colour side and top views, and colour unit emblems and personal markings. The text is in English and quite readable. I counted 311 black and white photographs to go with an additional six color pictures. There were 99 color side profiles and another 132 color drawings highlighting markings details.

Part III kicks off focusing on ‘Red Stars’ following the last chapter in Volume 2 in this series. The formidable Russian Air Force that existed before the 1917 October Revolution became decimated as anarchy ruled. Aviation units quickly withdrew deeper into Russia where they fell under control of the Bolsheviks. The previous tri-color roundels were painted over in the Bolshevik’s favorite color, red. Marat Khairulin provides copies of the orders that provide context to this massive change along with other archival material. Of course, this change in markings did take some time, as red paint was in short supply leading to quite a variety of markings. Marat Khairulin supports this transition with crisp photographs along with A. J. Kazakov’s color illustrations. As in the two earlier volumes, memoirs are used heavily to good effect. The implementation of the red five-pointed star similarly had a rough transition and is detailed in the text.

The next section of this book addresses the evolution of colours and markings for each of the Red Air Force aviation units. The need for quick recognition of friend vs foe in the air (as well as on the ground) became paramount. The author covers each unit and their markings, providing great depictions of these in photographs and colour plates. An excellent example is represented by page 61 depicting I. U. Pavlov’s Bristol F.2B Fighter. You get photographs; a side view in colour; and detail of the marking “Death to the Conquered” in scrap view. Although personal artwork adorning Red Air Force aircraft was not the norm, there still were some interesting and colorful markings. Animals were popular, as shown on pages 105 and 143. Some of the artwork was quite detailed, as shown on pages 121 and 164. Other aircraft exhibited the handiwork of artists that were quite capable of duplicating famous nude female paintings such as Giorgione’s “Sleeping Venus”.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Part III – Red Stars
  • 5th Chapter – Worker-Peasant Red Air Force
  • Overview of Insignia and Emblems of the RSFSR Aviation and its Opponents
  • The Red Discs, Red Flag Against Tricolour [Page 9]
  • The Five-Pointed Star [Page 22, 42]
  • Naval Names and Nicknames
  • Catalogue of Insignia and Emblems of the RSFSR Aviation and its Opponents
  • 1st Soviet Combat Aviation Group (1st Fighter Aviation Divizion) 1918-1921
  • HQ of the 1st Soviet Aviation Group (Personal Emblem of I. U. Pavlov) [Page 61]
  • 1st Fighter Aviation Otryad
  • 4th Fighter Aviation Divizion
  • 10th Fighter Aviation Otryad
  • 11th Fighter Aviation Otryad
  • 12th Fighter Aviation Otryad
  • 13th Fighter Aviation Otryad
  • 1st Southern Aviation Otryad (15th Reconnaissance Aviation Otryad) [Page 85]
  • 13th Kazan’ Reconnaissance Aviation Otryad
  • 18th Reconnaissance Aviation Otryad
  • 27th Reconnaissance Aviation Otryad
  • 34th Reconnaissance Aviation Otryad [Page 105]
  • 35th Reconnaissance Aviation Otryad
  • 39th ‘Iron’ Reconnaissance Aviation Otryad [Page 121]
  • 43rd Reconnaissance Aviation Otryad
  • 3rd Artillery Aviation Otryad
  • Special Duty Aviation Otryad of Instructors of the Moscow Aviation School [Page 143]
  • Divizion Vozdushnykh Korabley ‘Il’ya Muromets’
  • Individual Pilot Emblems of Red AF Aviation Otryads [Page 164]

I was extremely impressed with the coverage and quality of this title. The author was able to incorporate a tremendous amount of information and still manage to provide a compelling and readable storyline. I cannot wait until the fourth Volume is published!

My thanks to Mushroom Model Publications and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this excellent book.

Highly recommended!


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