Help support TMP

"Soviet Turret Markings/Decals?" Topic

16 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the WWII Discussion Message Board

820 hits since 18 Feb 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 9:01 a.m. PST

As I start to do a major refurbish of my Soviet army, I'd like to up may game a bit, so to speak, and start using more decals. My Germans have a ton of camo so look pretty smashing without them. But that plain Soviet green needs help.

As far as I can tell there really was no widespread, consistent marking system for unit or tank number like most of the other countries used?

Is that correct?

Also, an image search turns up many turrets with white recognition stripes of various kinds. Some clearly for air recognition, some I'm guessing for ground. I'm talking about these:



I'm guessing these were also just unit by unit and not really done on any consistent basis? I was thinking they would add a little visual interest to the army AND make it easy to differentiate different units if each unit had a specific marking style?

And since I'm going to do them anyway, besides GHQ and I94, who else makes suitable decals? Dom's Decals doesn't do 1/285. I have the GHQ, and I94 are on order….

idontbelieveit Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 9:14 a.m. PST
Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member18 Feb 2017 9:15 a.m. PST

For what it's worth, I just took a toothpick and drew some squiggles:


It works for me.


Frederick Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 9:36 a.m. PST

You are quite right that the Red Army had a lot of variability in how their tanks were marked – I have used the Battlefront decals for slogans, they are pretty good; given how proficient in Cyrillic Jack's solution is very practical!

SBminisguy18 Feb 2017 10:02 a.m. PST

Company B has great decals for 1/56th scale AFVs!


Here's some early war Russian tanks with Company B decals:

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 10:48 a.m. PST

Not my period, but I've been told the white stripes on the side were a recognition feature during the Berlin fighting. Personally, and especially in smaller scales, I'll use anything remotely in period to make it obvious who's on which side.

Andy ONeill18 Feb 2017 11:11 a.m. PST

The stripe and cross were Berlin.
No markings at all were pretty common, particularly until about 1943.
Most markings were turret only.
The slogans weren't very common and were usually chalk, so you could go with faint squiggles.
The most common marking after 43 were turret numbers in white Cyrillic numbers. Two or three. There was no standardisation and there could be a letter or two as well as numbers.
Various units had specific markings, iirc guards units particularly had fiddly stuff in a diamond. There were unit markings but these were uncommon and it's entirely historical to have none.
Stars were pretty rare but red early war, sometimes with white outlines. Late war white.

This is all from memory.

boy wundyr x Inactive Member18 Feb 2017 1:59 p.m. PST

IIRC, the 6mm GHQ decals come with some history and instructions.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 3:07 p.m. PST

I bought a few packs from various manufacturers.
They one that cracked me up was an early Battlefront pack for Flames of War.
There were 4 slogans repeated twice per sheet with 4 sheets per pack.
Besides "Victory!", "On to Berlin!" And "Death to Fascists!", the other was "Fighting Girlfriend".

I was also able to draw in Cyrillic a few others with a white fiber tip pen, which I have lost and can't find a replacement for.

number4 Inactive Member18 Feb 2017 11:03 p.m. PST

Most common was a two or three digit number on the turret withe the first number(s) being a code for the regiment and the second the number of the individual tank link

Red stars very rarely seen on anything other than lend-lease equipment. 30th Guards were one of the few units to put large red stars on the turrets of their T-34's link

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2018 11:37 a.m. PST

What about that 7th Independant Guards Heavy tank brigade with the bear on the star marking?

Was that used by any other units?

Mobius10 Jun 2018 1:06 p.m. PST

The Russians had two general types. In the early war the medium tanks had a outlined diamond romboide. Either large enough outlined with a letter or a number inside the top half and a number in the lower half. Or a solid diamond with a letter and number below. I can't remember if the letter was the regiment or company but one or the other numbers were the tank number within that unit (blank,1-9).


Late war they had large three digit numbers often Cyrillic.

The slogans were often put on the turret for ceremonies or photographs.

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2018 9:00 p.m. PST

I want to use the bear, he's such a star!

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2018 2:32 p.m. PST

Further to Mobius' post … a few more actuals of rhomboid symbols:

Further to Just Jack's post … I too have done a few "squiggles" with toothpicks dipped in white for my micro-armor Soviets:

In my case I looked at a few photos of actual patriotic slogans on tanks to get some view of the various shapes and locations. Then when I did my squiggles I put a bit of effort into getting the capital letters almost right, with the remains just as squiggles. It plays an effective trick on the eye at gametable distances -- people often believe that whole words are correctly written based on seeing only one or two letters and some squiggles. Kind of … maybe … a little.

(aka: Mk 1)

SeattleGamer Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2018 8:32 p.m. PST

The 1932 system of tank identification involved two bands of paint around the upper turret. A continuous stripe at the top denoted the battalion, and the dashed line below that indicated the company. S

1st = Red
2nd = White
3rd = Black
4th = Light Blue
5th = Yellow

o a tank with a solid red line and then a dashed red line would be 1st battalion, 1st company.

They could identify the platoon by placing an outlined square on the side of the turret, using the same colors above. So adding a yellow square would mean the 5th platoon.

This system was phased out in 1939, but many tanks still used this in Poland in 1939, and against Finland in 1940. And some tanks still used this system in June 1941.

By 1939 there were new systems in place, but nothing officially wide-spread. Different units would use circles, diamonds or squares.

The reason many unites used a diamond was because it was the standard soviet map symbol used to denote a tank unit.

Some regiments went with the cyrillic alphabet, in the standard order for that alphabet.

1st Battalion companies were A, B and V
2nd Battalion companies were G, D and E
3rd Battalion companies were Zh, Z and EE
4th Battalion companies were K, L and M

The company letter and the vehicle number were painted below the diamond. So the diamond up above with the funky H 2 below is actually an "EE" so that is the 2nd tank of the 9th company, of the 3rd battalion.

In addition to the turret identification markings (to help coordnation between tanks and units), they had symbols painted on the turret roof to help prevent friendly aircraft from attacking. These symbols were often painted in whitewash, so they could be easily scrubbed off and change.

The symbols were changed ever 2-3 days in the middle of the night. Here is a 10 day sequence (mid-July 1941):
White Triangle
White Circle
White Rectangle
White Square

Sometimes they would change it up and instead of one large triangle (for example) they would go with two smaller triangles. The normal single symbols were 2.5 – 3.5 feet across, centered on the turret top.

And sometimes, just numbers (either 2 or 3 digit) were painted on the turret sides. I have lots of books showing mid-war and late-war tanks with 2 and 3 digit numbers on the turret sides, sometimes with a star, sometimes not.

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2018 11:35 a.m. PST

No Bears?

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.