Sunday, March 28, 2010

MiGs and Mils, Cockpit Color

A topic of discussion for visitors at the Cold War Air Museum has been; "What color is that?" Or; "Why did the Soviets paint their cockpits green?"
Model making web sites have frequent questions and discussions about getting the exact color of soviet aircraft cockpits, exactly right.

Fortunately, we have the advantage of having the "real thing" with which to compare. We have been told that the color chosen by Soviet designers helps to reduce stress and maintain a pilot's effectiveness on long missions. While the Soviets were not the only country (or manufacturer) to use this color, they have used it for so long and in such great numbers that it has become a trademark of Sov-block aircraft.

Because not all aircraft are painted at the same time, or at the same place, there is some inevitable variation in color. Some aircraft have more of a green tone.

And, some have more of a blue tone, even when the aircraft come out of the same factory in the same country. In general though, the description "blue-green" seems to fit slightly more of the aircraft we see (especially the newer ones), than the alternate description often given as "light green".

These three panels, or sections of panels from different aircraft, show some color variation even though all three came from the same factory.

We don't worry too much about making an exact color match to some mythical factory standard, but we do make a color match for individual aircraft when necessary during restoration. Besides, we are mostly guys, and most of us simply made it through kindergarten with the 8-count box of crayolas, not the 64 count box (I don't even know how they come up with the names for so many colors). While the paint store most closely matched the blue-green above with a commercial color named "Mermaid Green", it's just not right to say "Our fighter cockpits are decorated in Mermaid Green". So for now, we'll just stick with something that fits within our limited repertoire and continue to refer to all of these colors as simply blue-green, or more simply as just that "Russian Cockpit Color".


  1. Cockpit colors ? Simple explanation.

    If you ever go to Russia, visit outside of Moscow a train station lavatory.
    Go the men’s room and do what you need to do….and look against the wall, you will find out that it is often painted like a green-blue (turquoise) cockpit panel.
    It’s pressure releasing… that’s all. On the ground and in the air!
    So the color is just a mental thing.

    Honest: the scientists found out that this color keeps pilots awake and not getting tired by the black or greay of a cockpit panel, especially under terms and condition of long range flights or under heavy work load.
    See attached a picture of the AN-125 "Vodka burner" cockpit, I took it Luton/UK during the Bond movie "Die another day"...same color same reason!


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