The Imperial Russian Flying Corps was founded in 1912, as was the aviation element of the Imperial Russian Navy. Flying Corps aircraft were marked with a representation of the national flag, a horizontal tricolour of white over blue over red. Navy aircraft carried a blue St Andrew cross on a white rudder in addition to the standard markings. By 1915 a roundel form was adopted. This was, from the outside, red, blue and white. The central white area was often much larger than the other two colours, which gave the appearance of a white disc with a thin red and blue border. These roundels were marked on wings and fuselage and often on fins, rudders and elevators.
The period following the revolution was of disintegrating chaos. Many units defected to the revolutionaries and their aircraft markings were based on the colour of the revolution, namely red. Initially roundels were over painted red, then over painted white with a red star, sometimes leaving the red outer ring of the original marking. Even a red skull and crossbones on a white disc has been noted. With the formation of the Workers and Peasants Red Air Fleet on 24 March 1918 the red star was the preferred marking, and this, with very little variation, has been used on wings, fuselage and fin up until the present day. The early Soviet navy aircraft bore a red or black anchor on the fuselage. When the Soviet Union reverted to its original name, Russia, in 1992 red stars were continued in use. Since 2009 a blue line was added to the red star to match the Russian colours of red, white and blue.
During the Russian Civil War of 1918-20 pro-tsarist government forces were still active, assisted by British, French and American units. The Don Republic Air Force used a blue triangle on a white disc; Admiral Kolchak's used the blue triangle pointing backwards on a white square. The Far East Republic of 1920 used a marking of a red and blue triangle, whilst Kolchak's Siberian Air Force used either the Siberian flag of white and green or the Tsarist flag, on fuselage sides. In the chaotic situation of the time there were many variants of these markings. Interventionist forces used their normal national Insignia, but there are many examples of the use of the pre-revolution roundel as well as white, blue and red rudder stripes and occasionally the Orthodox Church cross as a wing and fuselage marking.
From the early 1920s a plain red star was used. This was outlined in white or yellow on camouflaged backgrounds. Until the 1960s it was normal to omit the marking from the top of the wings. From the 1970s Soviet naval aircraft also carried a 'wavy' version of the naval ensign.
During the Second World War anti-communist Russians formed a small element of the German forces. There is evidence that their aircraft bore a white shield with a blue St Andrew cross on the fuselage, above and below the wings, and a smaller version on the fin, though this marking has to be confirmed. It is far more likely that this emblem was used as a small badge in addition to normal German insignia, some appear to have carried the St Andrews cross instead of the swastika as a fin marking. Since the break-up of the USSR, Russia has reverted to using the pre-1917 flag. This has been marked on the fins of Russian aircraft, sometimes in addition to red stars. At the present time red stars continue as a wing and fuselage marking, although some training aircraft have been seen with red, white and blue roundels. The original St Andrew cross flag now appears in 'wavy' form on naval aircraft. Since 1992 a number of seperatist conflicts have occurred throughout the ex-USSR, using aircraft. Generally these have retained red stars, although Chechen forces for a time used their own insignia. This is a green and red star with a black and yellow wolf design. A red, green and white roundel has also been reported, as has a red on yellow spiral.
The idea of low visibility markings were first used in the 1920s Low visibilty markings as a plain black outline star. Currently low visibility markings are a plain, outlined red star.
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