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World War II: Soviet Union
Russian aircraft of WWII
Hosted by Rowan Baylis
VVS Conundrum - Seeing Stars!
Merlin
Staff MemberSenior Editor
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#017
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United Kingdom
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Posted: Sunday, January 11, 2009 - 09:36 AM UTC
Hi there

The apparent mixture of both very pale and dark VVS insignia visible in wartime photos is usually explained away by the type of film used: orthochromatic film making reds appear dark, while Soviet "journalist" film made them appear very light.

Quite by chance, I stumbled across this German photo in Issue 30 (1986) of Aircraft Enthusiast magazine showing both light and dark stars in the same photo:



The wings in the foreground don't appear to be simply faded. Any ideas?

All the best

Rowan
Automaton
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United States
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Posted: Sunday, January 11, 2009 - 01:05 PM UTC

Quoted Text



The wings in the foreground don't appear to be simply faded. Any ideas?




Hi Rowan:

I saw your "other conundrum" (black 9 versus red 9) over on the Butcher Bird groupbuild page, and didn't put in my two cents there simply because I think in that case it's anyone's guess. I do have a few theories on this one, though.

I think there could be several factors at work here, and one, some, or all of them could have something to do with the different appearance of the stars . . .

1. If you look at the small plane to the left of the picture and the way its shadow falls, it would seem that the stacked wings in the foreground are pretty close to directly facing the sun's rays, which could result in some reflected glare.

2. The visible star on the more-or-less intact plane in the background (I'm not sure what type it is) is, of course farther from the camera, and at a less direct angle to the sun, which could make it appear darker.

3. The stars on the stacked wings could in fact be faded more than the star on the other plane (and they appear to be on fabric wings, which could conceivably change the reflectivity and fade resistance of the paint.

4. The field where the picture was taken appears to be very midsummer dry and dusty, and I personally think the wings look like they have a heavy film of dust (possibly thrown up by vehicles and taxiing planes) covering them. This would in effect put a tan "filter" on the red, plus make it more reflective, especially given the angle of the sun.

I think number 4 is the most likely?

Regards

Automaton

Merlin
Staff MemberSenior Editor
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#017
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United Kingdom
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Posted: Monday, January 12, 2009 - 10:01 AM UTC
Hi there

I must admit I'm a bit dubious about the reflection/dust explanations, but the picture really has me at a loss.

Of course, "theory 5" is that they were actually different colours, but I've always accepted the "journalist" film explanation and Erik Pilawskii' s work on VVS colours has been tantamount to my "bible" on such things. This is the first photo I've found that shows both light and dark stars together and it hit me between the eyes when I spotted it (I'd lent the magazine to a friend almost 10 years ago(!) and he returned it while I was away at Christmas).

All the best

Rowan
alpha_tango
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Germany
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Posted: Monday, January 12, 2009 - 10:27 AM UTC

Quoted Text

..."theory 5" is that they were actually different colours, ...



Ockhams razor is sharp but not always right

it were probably different paints .. not sure about the colour (... I keep out of this ... promised!)

BTW I would say it is a Tupolew SB in the background ...

cheers

Steffen
Automaton
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Posted: Monday, January 12, 2009 - 11:00 AM UTC

Quoted Text



I must admit I'm a bit dubious about the reflection/dust explanations, but the picture really has me at a loss.

Of course, "theory 5" is that they were actually different colours . . .



Your "theory 5" certainly can't be discounted, I agree. Whatever is causing the variance, it seems we can rule out the film in this case.

Trying to decipher color from black and white historical photos can be maddening. You can go with your gut feeling, flip a coin, roll a die or agree with someone's opinion, but whichever way you go, some new information may come to light the day after you finish the build and prove that you painstakingly got it all wrong!

Regards

Automaton
vanize
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Texas, United States
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Posted: Monday, January 12, 2009 - 11:55 AM UTC
I don't think reflectivity can be discounted either. if the paint on the stars of the nearby wings is even a little glossier than the (presumably green) camo paint, it could account for this since the sun is quite high in the sky.

likewise, glossy paint can look darker when reflecting light in a different direction from the viewer, as per the fuselage of the light colored aircraft.

matt paint diffuses light quite a bit, but gloss paint tends to reflect light a bit more like a mirror. if mirrors (or dark glass) were placed in the same spots in this photo - i'd expect similar(ish) results, especially in a black and white photo.

or they might be different hues or red (or even different colors entirely)!