Photo: Syrian Air Force Mig-21 shot down by rebels had a weird Syrian flag painted on tail

Freelance journalist Damien Spleeters sent me an email to let me know that he has noticed something interesting about the Mig-21 fighter jet that was shot down by rebel forces on Sept. 4: the green stars on the flag painted on the tail of the downed plane appear to be upside down compared to the Syrian flag-

Since the Syrian flag seems to be hand painted, I believe the reason for this error may be a human error. Still, it’s somehow weird that such an easy symbol is painted in the wrong way (I’d expect the painter to begin painting the star from the upper point).

I’m not sure hand painted roundels are a tradition within the Syrian Arab Air Force but when I visited the Tishreen War Panorama Museum in Damascus, in 2008, I took the following picture of a Mil Mi-17 Hip on static display.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Maybe this plane was bought from Russia (or another country providing weapons to the Syrian government) and it was given a paint job from (apparently) a non Syrian painter in order to rush the plane into service as soon as possible….

  2. Maybe it is the same plane they “shot down” a couple days earlier, along with the flag they also tried to paint a different serial number, look at the last two figures, they look like they were painted anew.

    It makes sense for them to fake it, because they would get paid for it by their financial backers in the KSA and/or Qatar, that’s the principal purpose of rebels’ videos from this conflict.

  3. I call fake on this one,, it “feels” wrong,, hardly any ground disturbance and the pilot seems conveniently close to the plane.where is the engine? I see no crater just a pile of stuff very close to the tail.. its all very fishy…

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