The first day of war the Ukrainians reported
seven Russian aircraft and four helicopters
shot down. There is photographic evidence
of one Russian Su-25 shot down on February 24. One transport An-26 crashed on Russian territory near the Ukrainian border.
The cause of the crash remains unknown.
Ukrainians claim to have hit several helicopters attacking Hostomel. At least one was
supposed to crash into the Dnieper river.
One Ka-52 attack helicopter escorting the
transport Mi-8s carrying the paratroopers,
was hit by a heat-seeking portable missile. It aimed at the helicopter’s port engine
but struck the weapons’ pylon on the port
side. The missile explosion tore off the end
of the pylon with the third attachment point
and a lot of fragments hit the port engine.
The crew performed the emergency landing
and attempted to flee. Both airmen however
were killed by the Ukrainian troops. The
damaged helicopter is well documented
by photographs. All national markings are
overpainted on the both sides and the fuselage is marked with hastily painted letter
V which according to the unconfirmed information is supposed to identify the Russian Marines.
Claims of two Il-76 airplanes shot down
during the paratrooper operations remain
unconfirmed. The first one was supposed
to be shot down by the Ukrainian Su-27 fighter during the night of February 25th and
26th near Vasylkiv 40 kilometers south of
Kiev. It was announced by the Ukrainian
Headquarters stating that the number of
paratroopers on board is unknown. Il-76
can carry 125 paratroopers or 140 regular
infantrymen. There is an airport in Vasylkiv
that Russians may have intended to capture. Later, during February 26, the Ukrainians
reported another Il-76 shot down near the
city of Bila Cerkva 80 kilometers south of
Kiev. Both kills were supposedly achieved
over the territory controlled by the Ukrainian troops however no photographs of the
wreckage surfaced. Therefore, the veracity
of these reports is questionable.
An-225 destroyed at Hostomel airfield.
A hero and an urban legend
Meanwhile the urban legend about a heroic Mig-29 fighter pilot nicknamed Ghost of
Kiev spread around the Ukrainian capital.
He supposedly shot down seven Russian airplanes in two days of defending the
capital and became the first fighter ace of
the 21st century. Later he was supposed
to raise his score to ten Russian airplanes
and despite being shot down himself he
successfully ejected and continued to fight
in another plane. The existence of Ghost of
Kiev, whose real identity remains unknown,
was to be confirmed by the videos of the
fighter flying low over the Kiev apartment
buildings. Most likely this is an urban legend in order to boost morale. At the time
of crisis people need a superhero.
In fact Ukraine did lose one hero during
Ukrainian pilot Oleksandr Oksanchenko and the
wreckage of his Su-27.