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Friend or Foe

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Soviet armoured forces never established a uniform system of tactical markings, leaving individual commanders to create their own. When it came to friend or for markings, there was an even greater variety, as they were changed often. One example is this schedule used by the 9th Army in July of 1941.


"Approved by the undersigned, Chief of Staff of the 9th Army, Major General Bodin
July 3rd, 1941

Table of signals and combined arms identification markings of the 9th Army to be used from July 4th to July 18th, 1941

Purpose: for identification of tanks by aircraft. Painted in white on the tank turret:
  1. A circle with a diameter of 80 cm. July 7th, 13th, 17th.
  2. An equilateral triangle with 70 cm long sides. July 4th, 9th, 14th.
  3. A square with 50 cm long sides. July 5th, 10th, 12th.
  4. A cross spanning the whole turret. July 6th, 8th, 11th, 15th.
  5. A ring with an inner diameter of 50 cm and outer diameter of 90 cm. July 16th, 18th.
For identification of tanks by artillery:
The same markings as for tanks, applied to the side of the turret.

For identification of aircraft by ground forces:

  1. Two green flares. July 7th, 13th, 17th.
  2. Two red flares. July 4th, 9th, 14th.
  3. Two black flares. July 5th, 10th, 12th.
  4. Red flare and green flare. July 6th, 8th, 11th, 15th.
  5. Red flare and black flare. July 16th, 18th.
For identification of ground forces (infantry, artillery, cavalry, etc) by aircraft:
  1. A white stripe parallel to the front 4 by 15 meters. July 7th, 13th, 17th.
  2. A cross made of two white stripes 4 by 15 meters each. July 4th, 19th, 14th.
  3. The letter T made from two white stripes 4 by 15 meters each. July 5th, 10th, 12th.
  4. An angle pointing towards the enemy from two white stripes 4 by 15 meters each. July 6th, 8th, 11th, 15th."


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