Allow me a little detour to the marking

system of the Russian military equipment

used in the invasion of Ukraine which will

accompany us, directly or indirectly, throughout this series of articles. For this purpose, the Russian Army created the markings

in the form of the combination of the geometric shapes and letters. In the first case

the intention was to distinguish the own

units from the Ukrainian one and in the second case to create the auxiliary

identification in case the units on their

advance through Ukraine got mixed. The

vehicles and airplanes attacking Kiev from

Belarus were marked with a well visible

white letter “V”. The helicopters participating in the attack on Hostomel on February

24 had mostly all their markings overpainted including the red outlined stars, nose

number or the identification code in the

format RF-xxxx (numerals 0-9 in place of

x). Instead of all these markings only the

white letter “V” was painted on the helicopters. During the later operations and losses of the VKS RF equipment this effort

to completely obliterate the markings was

not observed since the helicopters carried

national markings, nose numbers and

RF-xxxx identification.

Photo: author’s archive via OSINTua

Markings of the invasion troops

Map of Ukraine depicting the advance directions of the individual occupational units of the Russian army and their separatists’ satellites DNR and LNR (in the eastern Donbas). The markings used by these units are also illustrated. The

primary purpose of using these markings was mainly identification and recognition of the individual units in case they

got mixed up during their advance (which was supposedly factored in as well as the rapid advance through the Ukrainian territory). If we look at the air force so far the application of the white letter “V” on the helicopters was recorded

in the north and north east. The white letter “Z” was recorded on both the helicopters and fighter-bombers Su-25, The

Russian “Ravens” operating in the north from the Belarussian bases almost certainly flew without this quick recognition marking so it it possible that its ultimate application could have depended on the commanders’ consideration.

Photo: author’s archive

Photo: author’s archive

The most modern and frequently used VKS RF combat helicopter during the attack on Ukraine was Kamov Ka-52. The

helicopter in the picture, probably “blue 08” nose number,

carries on the fuselage visible markings in the form of the

white letter “V” which attaches it to the unit attacking from

Belarus towards Kiev. In this case however besides the

nose number it also carries the red stars on the vertical

tail surfaces and white marking RF-xxxx on the fuselage

tail. Kamovs which on February 24 took part in the attack

on Hostomel carried only the white letter “V” and all other

markings were hastily overpainted by different shades of

the camouflage paint which was supposedly available to

the ground personnel at the time of ordering the markings’

removal. Ka-52 in the picture is equipped with a pair of

PTB-450 drop tanks, a standard equipment of this type

at least at the beginning of the conflict. Then it carries

the asymmetrical ordnance in the form of the B-8V20

rocket launcher for 80 mm unguided missiles S-8 on the

starboard wing and at least a pair of the 9K121 Vikhr (AT-16

Scallion) anti-aircraft missiles.

A group of attack Mi-35 and transport Mi-8AMTSh captured on the improvised apron which is probably a road. All helicopters carry the identification markings in the form of the white

letter “Z” whose execution varies widely and must have been hand-painted. At least the attack Hinds do not have their nose numbers overpainted (the first Mi-35 shows the nose number which is more likely dirty than overpainted) neither the stars nor the identification codes RF-xxx. The first Hind carries four 9K120 Ataka (AT-9 Spiral 2) anti-aircraft guided missiles

on the starboard wing and the notorious B-8V20 rocket launcher for 80 mm unguided missiles S-8. Of interest is the first Hinds’ “Z” triple painting on this visible starboard fuselage.


INFO Eduard

June 2022