Identification of Soviet Projectiles and Projectile Fragments (Part 3)
In 1938, the Soviet system of colour marking projectiles was simplified. The earlier system, not described in this manual, is obsolete .
b. Current Projectile Colouring System.
In peace-time, Soviet artillery projectiles of caliber 76.2mm and larger are normally painted gray, with appropriate identifying colour bands. Shrapnel projectiles are exceptions to the rule; ball shrapnel is painted yellow, while bar shrapnel is khaki.
During wartime all projectiles are left unpainted, except for identifying colour bands on certain types. These unpainted projectiles are sand-scoured, have the colour band (if any) and other pertinent identifying markings applied, and are then coated with a heavy grease as a protection against the elements.
c. Identifying Colour Bands.
Projectile colour bands are used in both peace and war. These bands are usually located between the bourrelet and the rotating band, and identify the projectile as to type and method of manufacture. Colour bands, their meaning and location on the projectile, are given below.
(1) Below the Bourrelet
Red -- Incendiary, Armor-Piercing Incendiary, and Armor-Piercing Incendiary Tracer Projectiles
Blue -- Concrete-Piercing Projectiles
Black -- Smoke Projectiles
White -- Illuminating (Star) Projectiles
Yellow -- Ball Shrapnel Projectiles
Khaki -- Bar Shrapnel Projectiles
Green -- Gas Projectile (One band indicates non-persistent gas, two bands indicates persistent gas)
(2) Above the Rotating Band
Black -- Cast Iron Projectile (not to be confused with smoke projectiles, which have a black band below the bourrelet).
d. Projectiles without Colour Bands.
The following types of projetiles are normally left unpainted in wartime, painted gray in peacetime, and have no colour bands in either case (unless the projectile is cast iron, when a black band appears just above the rotating band):
Armor-Piercing (without incendiary element)
Armor-Piercing Tracer (without incendiary element)
High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT)
High-Velocity Armor-Piercing (HVAP)
e. Extent of Colouring System.
It is not definitely known whether the described colouring system applies to all projectiles. Dark green fragmentation projectiles for 85mm AA guns, and fragmentation high-explosive projectiles for 122mm howitzers, each type manufactured since 1938, have been examined. Neither caliber bore identifying colour bands.
However, it is believed that the colour marking system explained above is universal throughout the Soviet Army, and that the dark green projectiles were probably painted after leaving the arsenal, for protection against rust or corrosion.
Soviet Ammunition Example
Next Time: 37mm Projectiles