Camouflage of Polish MiG-29s
Before we get too far...
These pages were created to describe external features of Polish MiG-29s, esp. as they apply to scale modeling. Below is general description of types of camo used, but it's far from exhaustive. I'd urge anyone interested in camo and markings of Polish (and not only!) MiG-29s, to head to www.mars.slupsk.pl/fort/mig/ - this website has a number of very detailed and accurate artwork.
Polish MiG-29s (before overhaul)
Polish MiG-29s have all initially worn the same camouflage. It comprised two colors - light gray and light green-gray. Most probably entire airframe was painted in light gray first, and then parts of upper surfaces were painted in light green-gray; pattern was the same on all aircraft. Anti-glare panel was painted in front of canopy - in black. Some parts were in medium gray color - namely nose cone, panels on both sides of LERX, panel on top of spine, top parts of vertical tails. Gun vent and leading edge of horizontal tailplanes were left unpainted.
Over time, as the original paint began wearing off in places, it was touched up with locally procured paints. The colors did not match exactly, which resulted in some subtle variations between airframes.
ex-Czech MiG-29s (before overhaul)
Czech MiG-29s were originally painted in five color camo. Underside was light blue, while upper surfaces were covered in irregular spots of tan, brown, light green and dark green. They also had black anti-glare panel and the same parts in medium gray as Polish MiGs. Gun vent leading edge of horizontal tailplanes were left unpainted. Although the overall scheme was the same, the exact shape and placement of the spots was different for each aircraft.
After Polish Air Force took these aircraft over, it was decided to not to repaint them until overhaul. Simply Czech national markings and bort numbers were painted over, and replaced with Polish insignia. Some machines had arrived with tiger stripes painted on vertical tails, and these stripes were retained as well.
ex-German MiGs (before overhaul)
Most German MiG-29s arrived in Poland wearing Norm 90J camo: underside painted in FS 36375 and FS 36320, uppersurfaces in FS 35237 and FS 36320, nose radome, panels on LERX and spine as well as vertical tails in FS 36118. There were two exceptions: 29+10 and 29+20, both wearing special paint schemes (plenty photos on airliners.net for example).
Since ex-German machines differed somewhat from the ones used in Poland, they were not assigned to operational units until after overhaul - during which they were repainted. I know of only one MiG-29 still in German camo, but with Polish markings - 29+21. It had patches of light gray paint on upper and lower wings, sides of vertical tails and sides of air intakes covering German markings, over which red bort number "22" and Polish insignia was applied (no insignia on lower wing surfaces!). Aircraft in this guise was shown to the public in May 2004 in Bydgoszcz. Few photos of this machine were published in Polish magazine mini Replika no 39 (5/2004).
All MiG-29s (after overhaul)
Polish MiG-29s are overhauled by Military Aviation Depot No 2 (WZL-2) in Bydgoszcz. During these overhauls, new camouflage is applied. It comprises three gray colors, FS 36375, FS 36270 and FS 36118. Irregular spots on upper surfaces are applied in patterns unique to each machine. Some aircraft went through more than one overhaul, each time receiving different camo (same colors, but different pattern). Most aircraft have black anti-glare panel (which is irregular in shape and different between aircraft), except for few airframes that were overhauled first - namely 65, 70, 77, 92 and 15. Of these, 70, 92 and 15 went through their second overhaul, and had anti-glare panels painted then. Parts that were medium gray on Polish and Czech machines before, were painted over in camo colors during overhaul. Gun vent and leading edge of horizontal tailplanes are left unpainted (showing silver metal underneath). Most aircraft also had two parts of leading edge of vertical tailplanes without paint: the kink between the tailplane and the extension (metal), as well as the very top (black). But some pictures show these areas painted over - sometimes both of them, other times only one.
In use this camo also required some touch-ups (sometimes rather extensive), which again resulted in a bit of color variation.
Another point of interest (at least for modeler) is that nose cones are sometimes exchanged between airframes, which causes visible camo mismatch. Easy way of adding some interest to one's scale model.
Future scheme (?)
One airframe - 4119 - was painted in new camo scheme, using somewhat lighter grays. It seems that this airframe was not overhauled, but rather painted as a sort of "proof-of-concept". There are no indications that this new scheme will be applied to other MiGs.
For completeness, I'll also describe camouflage of East German MiG-29s - by the time these were transferred to Poland, all original camo and markings were long gone.
All East German single-seater MiG-29s wore five tone "tactical" camo, very similar to Czech one: underside in light blue, upper surfaces in irregular spots of tan, brown, light green and dark green. They also had black anti-glare panel and the same parts in medium gray as Polish MiGs. Gun vent and leading edge of horizontal tailplanes were left unpainted. In addition, one MiG-29UB (bort no 148) had the same camo.
Remaining three dual-seaters arrived in two color camo: light gray and light gray-green. They also had black anti-glare panel and the same parts in medium gray as Polish MiGs. Gun vent and leading edge of horizontal tailplanes were left unpainted. Exact camo pattern was different between airframes.
After unification of Germany, all NVA MiG-29s had their national markings and bort numbers replaced with ones assigned by GAF. Aircraft were not otherwise altered - camouflage and in some cases even special markings were retained. After a period of evaluation, all airframes were updated to so-called "ICAO 1" standard, repainted in German camo and assigned to operational unit.