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USSR Air Forces (1978-1989) Paint

AKAN USSR Air Forces (1978-1989) Paint First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2011 Manufacturer AKAN
Subject USSR Air Forces (1978-1989) Product Number 47314
Pros Finally some accurate colors for Russian/Soviet Air Force subjects Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $23.00

First Look

There have been many kits of Soviet Air Force subjects over the years and very few paint colors to support them. Ever since Viktor Belenko flew his MiG-25 to Japan and Hasegawa's subsequent kit of same, it was clear that getting the right colors on these models was going to be a challenge given the limited information available.

USSR Air Forces (1978-1989) Paint

In more recent years, a few paint companies have half-heartedly provided some colors with little insight into their use. Despite the growing wealth of information coming out of the former Soviet Union on Soviet and Russian aviation, nothing that resembles painting standards and/or camouflage instructions have yet appeared. Then along came Linden Hill Imports...

Linden Hill Imports has been around for a number of years and specializes on importing hobby kits, decals, detail sets, and reference books out of the Russian Federation states, most notably from Russia and Ukraine. Somewhere along the line, they discovered a growing line of hobby paints produced for the Russian market under the brand name of AKAN (looks like AKAH in Cyrillic) and among those colors are a series dedicated to World War II and modern Soviet/Russian aviation subjects.

AKAN paints are produced like many other brands, in an enamel and an acrylic formulation. Linden Hill Imports is bringing over the acrylic line (which makes importing and mail order far easier). The paints are produced in Finland (probably by the same company that produces JPS Modell/Don Color) and they are ready to go straight out of the bottle (after mixing of course).

When I first became aware of AKAN paints last year, the availability and selection of colors was still limited at Linden Hill and there aren't any other western sources for the line that I been able to find. Patience has paid off as Linden Hill Imports has become an official importer of the paint line and a growing number of colors is now available.

AKAN acrylics are packaged in plastic bottles that have a snap-off ring seal to show if the bottle has been previously opened. When I first started experimenting with these colors, the labels were all in Russian but now the bottles are labeled in English on one side, Russian on the other. Each color is available separately, but what is convenient are these bundled sets for the first-time user. Each set comes with six bottles of paint which provide the essential colors for a given subject area.

Take for example this set for Soviet Air Forces between 1978 and 1989. Prior to 1978, most tactical aircraft were either bare metal or a gray color that provided corrosion protection to the airframe. In those days, it was interesting to see how camouflage was applied to tactical aircraft - the front-line fighters were usually gray (or bare metal) for high altitude work while the older fighters that were relegated to fighter-bomber duties (or those aircraft designed for mud-moving) were given a wide range of camouflage patterns. It was an interesting day when the still fearsome MiG-25 went from gray to camouflage as it was replaced by more capable aircraft. While the camouflage patterns varied, the colors used were fairly limited and any resemblance these colors have to western paint standards is strictly coincidental.

This paint set provides four upper surface colors used in those days (you'll also need 73055 Green not included in this set). The fifth color is the distinctive gray-blue used on the undersides of most of these aircraft, while the final color included in this set is the very important 'Emerald Green' (turquoise) used in cockpits during that era. According to the package, these colors are:

  • 73023 Gray-Blue (underside)
  • 73006 Emerald Green (cockpit)
  • 73099 Green
  • 73096 Beige
  • 73097 Sand
  • 73098 Brown

These colors match up to the variety of camouflage patterns applied to the MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-25, MiG-27, Su-17, and Su-25. As I mentioned above, you'll also need 73055 for the other green used in a few of these patterns.

If you've been enjoying the growing selection of Soviet and Russian aviation subjects coming to store shelves, you're not alone. If you've tried to use the Gunze paints that have been recommended in the instruction sheets and they just don't look right, again you're not alone. I give credit to the kit manufacturers for getting close with the available Gunze paints but with the exception of 2-3 colors, Gunze does not produce color-matched paints for Russian/Soviet subjects so you've been settling for 'close enough'. If you want to get to the right colors, give these AKAN paints a try. I've purchased all of the available colors now and I like how they go through my airbrush and clean with Windex.

My sincere thanks to Linden Hill Imports for this review sample!