While commonly painted in the often debated 4B0 green, Soviet vehicles actually had both official and unofficial camouflage paints and schemes in World War 2. Outside of some hard to find Russian and Eastern European publications and a section in the Warpaint book on the T-34/76 there has been scant coverage of the topic for those of us in the West. AK Interactive seeks to change that.
The Physical Book
This book is a bit of a mixed bag. There are some things that are quite good and others that are missed opportunities or even confusing. Whether the book is a good choice for you will depend on what areas you value and what areas you don't.
The first thing to consider is that the text is minimal; 4 and a half pages out of 102 pages of book, not counting captions with the plates. There is no description of the official changes in policy beyond vague comments like "From 1944 and up until the end of the War three-tone camouflages were common in most operating sites on the Eastern Front". Little information as to when specifically patterns came into vogue or went out as well as which fronts they were used. If you're looking for a discussion of what paints were used and by what order you'll need to look elsewhere.
The second thing is the translation is serviceable but not much more than that. The quote above is verbatim and not atypical. Grammar is often sketchy, words seem autocorrected, and some are even broken up. As the text outside of captions isn't especially informative this isn't a deal breaker but it does hurt the presentation of the book.
Third, the color profiles reflect weathering, dust and shading. On the one hand, this is very useful for modelers as it shows the variations in how the standard colors might appear in service and also makes for attractive illustrations. On the other hand, it can make it hard to tell exactly what color you are looking at and also confuse people (well, me at least) as to what 6K or 3B AU (a color with a plate at the end but no mention in the text). What becomes more confusing is that there are at least 5 profiles that have what I think is daubed mud over the 4B0 but looks the same as 7K paint and the captions don't say one way or the other.
Fourth, the profiles all have captions which give as much information on when the reference photo (presumably, there aren't any period photos included that correspond with the profile schemes) was taken and what unit the vehicle was with. This should be very useful to modelers wanting to use an accurate scheme for their model based on where the actual vehicle served.
Finally, there are 151 profiles in the book, 29 have camouflage and 28 have whitewash. Here is where I think the book was more ambitious then the subject warranted. The plain fact is that Soviet camouflage schemes seem to have been pretty boring, the vast majority of photos show plain old 4B0 green. Thus over 90 profiles in the book show a 4B0 green vehicle. You can see some of the markings (almost all of the profiles are side views only) but since there is no discussion of either tactical or unit markings it's not much help to the modeler. The camouflage stuff is useful for those wishing to make their Soviet armor more interesting but it's less than half the book. Had there been more than the 8 period photos included it might have made a useful visual reference.
Had this book dumped half of the 4B0 profiles for interesting period photos I'd give the book an enthusiastic recommendation. Had those same 4B0 profiles been dumped and the price dropped to $30 I'd be doing the same. If you're a modeler who wants to know about Soviet camouflage use and AFV markings, you're getting 29 camouflage profiles for $50 and almost no descriptive text. Personally, I would probably grudgingly pay it knowing what I know now. Probably.
Highs: Great artwork, despite poorly covered subject, high quality printing.Lows: Minimal descriptive text on the camouflage patterns.
Less than 1 in 5 profiles aren't 4B0 or whitewash covered 4B0.Verdict: It's kind of a miss in my estimation. However, worth buying if you have a high interest in the subject simply because there's so little else out there.