WW2 Painting Guide: Russian / Soviet Infantry

This is my WW2 Painting Guides for Soviet Infantry. I was puzzled by Soviet Infantry uniforms of World War II for a while because two mates of mine, Roland and Ian, both of whom know their stuff, painted Russians in completely different colours. Apparently this is okay.

Green versus Brown Uniforms

Roland paints Russians a kind of greenish khaki. It turns out this is Tamiya ‘Khaki’ (XF-49). You can see more of Roland’s painting in my Steven’s Russian Rifle Battalion.

Roland Style Soviets in Tamiya XF-49 Khaki
Roland Style Soviets in Tamiya XF-49 Khaki

But my other mates Ian and Wayne – who paint for Battle Front – give them British Khaki uniforms, i.e. brown. Looking at Battle Front: Late-war painting guide it seems they recommend Tamiya ‘Flat Earth’ (XF-52), although I suspect Ian uses Humbrol. Most of the BF Russian Helmets are green (e.g. Vallejo Russian Green). You can see more of Ian’s painting on my Crossfire pages.

Ian Style Soviets in Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth and Vallejo Russian Green
Ian Style Soviets in Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth and Vallejo Russian Green

I worried about this for a while, but then I read this …

The common uniform colour was called khaki, but this had an unusually wide definition. Uniforms varied from an ochre through a sort of dull chocolate brown, with various sandy green through camo green increasingly common towards the end of the war. (WW2 European theatre uniforms)

There was no standardization in the material itself, and I even have an excellent photo that clearly shows a female, soldier wearing a gymnastiorka tunic made out of lend-lease G.I. herringbone twill. Color of material varied from anything to near-white shades of green to dark brown and green khakis. An example of a gymnastiorka in the Patton museum is made of a wonderfully dark green shade of U.S. G.I. blanket wool. (Daniel Welch Portrayal Of Soviet Forces: The Frontovik)

… which by and large seems to include almost any brown or green shade.

Blankets were brown (Daniel Welch Portrayal Of Soviet Forces: The Frontovik).

According to World Army Uniforms Since 1939 (Mollo, McGregor, Smith & Chappell, 1973) the great coats could vary in colour from pale grey to red brown, whereas The Armed Forces of World War II: Uniforms, Insignia & Organisation (Mollo, 2000) says “greyish-brown”. In both books all Russian great coats are represented as grey.

For Scouts in camo, Roland used the same greenish Khaki but with dark green splotches on top. But this scheme is only one of a several used. Most scout figures wear a side cap which Roland painted normal greenish Khaki.

Steven’s Recommendations

Here’s how I’m going to paint my next battalion (see WW2 Painting Guide: Soviet Motorised Rifle Battalion with Vallejo Paints):

Item Steven’s Paint Recommendation Colour Patch
Helmet and Vehicles Vallejo 70894 Russian Green (096) with two dry brushed layers of ligher shades (i.e mixed with white)
Infantry Tunic, Breeches, Cap (if worn) For a brownish shade:
Base colour Vallejo 70921 English Uniform (141)
Highlight Vallejo 70880 Khaki Grey (113)
For a greenish shade:
Cote D’arms 528 Russian Brown or Tamiya ‘Khaki’ (XF-49) both of which are greenish
Boots Vallejo 70950 Black
Belts and webbing Vallejo 70983 Flat Earth
Packs, bags, pouches, canvas on vehicles etc Vallejo 70821 German Camo Beige (103) with one dry brushed lighter shade on bigger pieces
Great Coat / Coat Roll Vallejo 70874 USA Tan Earth
Metal e.g. Guns barrels Vallejo 70863 Gunmetal Grey
Wood e.g. Gun stocks Vallejo 70875 Beige Brown
Faces and hands Vallejo 70955 Flat Flesh
Wood e.g. Carts and Wagons Heavy dry brush Cote D’arms 534 Dark Leather (Vallejo 145 German Camouflage Mid Brown)
Dry brush Cote D’arms 524 Tan Earth (Vallejo 113 Khaki Grey )
Light Dry brush 50:50 mix Cote D’arms 524 Tan Earth and White.

Other Recommendations

I’ve just noticed that Battle Front (BF) recommend quite a few variations for Soviets, including one big surprise 830 Fieldgrey as the uniform colour! Bolt Action Miniatures (BAM) had a good Russian Army painting guide including Vallejo colours but since they were bought by Warlord Games it seems to have disappeared.

Item Actual Colour Guide Paint Recommendation Colour Patch
Helmet and Vehicles Green BF Vallejo 894 Russian Green
BAM Vallejo 967 Olive Green
Infantry Tunic, Breeches, Cap (if worn) Field Drab/Khaki BF Vallejo 880 Khaki Grey
or the unlikely Vallejo 830 Fieldgrey !!!!
BAM Vallejo 912 Tan Yellow
Cap band BAM Infantry: ? ?
Cavalry: Vallejo 925 Blue
Artillery: Vallejo 909 Vermillion
Boots Black BF Vallejo 950 Black
BAM Vallejo 950 Black
or Vallejo 822 German Black Brown
Belts and webbing Dark Yellow/Khaki Drill BF Vallejo 983 Flat Earth
or Vallejo 978 Dark Yellow
BAM Vallejo 822 German Black Brown
Packs, bags, pouches etc BF Vallejo 821 German Camo Beige
BAM Vallejo 924 Russian Uniform
or Vallejo 821 German Camo Beige
or Vallejo 916 Sand Yellow
or Vallejo 912 Tan Yellow
or Vallejo 847 Dark Sand
Great Coat / Coat Roll BF Vallejo 874 USA Tan Earth
BAM Vallejo 888 Olive Grey
Metal e.g. Guns barrels BF Vallejo 863 Gunmetal Grey
Wood e.g. Gun stocks BF Vallejo 875 Beige Brown
or Vallejo 846 Mahogany Brown
Faces and hands BF Vallejo 955 Flat Flesh
Tank Camouflage Earth Brown BF Vallejo 983 Flat Earth
or Vallejo 913 Yellow Ochre

Also check out

4 thoughts on “WW2 Painting Guide: Russian / Soviet Infantry”

  1. Great article. Thanks for showing all of the different paint colors. I have a question on Russian Army Commissars pants. Blue or Brown? I have seen them both ways.

  2. Thanks model 1/35 Tanks, noticed troops in Doco Soviet Storm have light sand backpack and Early war have green helmets battle Berlin Olive drab or khaki drab,,cheers Peter,

  3. Great article. I think you’ll find Russian officer hat bands somewhat counterintuitive to the West. Tankers and Artillerymen wore black, infantry (and NKVD) wore “red” in a “raspberry” – (NKVD hat tops were blue (just a bit brighter than the cavalry -(Vallejo 70.925 might do)). The link below may help (it’s the best compared to the US Army Guide that is now out of print that I have. The field piping should be this (possibly Vallejo 70.802?) while the darker red for stripes on the boards and field caps/hats is close to 70.947.


    Note – the shoulder boards depicted first are “dress” rather than the “field” versions further down. Piping will be tough, depending on your scale and skill. But they should help.

    1941-1943 is another story, I’m looking for an equally suited link


Leave a Reply