The UH1B, C, and M gunships transferred by the Army to HA(L)-3 generally already had seen a good deal of combat. They retained, for the most part, the standard Army olive drab paint scheme although after commissioning of the squadron some helicopters were apparently repainted in a black or deep navy blue color, either completely or partial. There is no evidence to indicate this was a squadron wide policy, however.
Originally, the words United States Navy were carried in black on both sides of the tailboom. After formation of HA(L)-3 early in 1967, this was gradually replaced with the word Navy in large white letters. Some photos, however, show the word Navy in black, and it is believed this was a very early style marking dating from the 1967 period which was not necessarily representative of all squadron aircraft.
Also, after commissioning, a three digit "modex" code beginning with the numeral 3 was assigned and carried on the vertical fin of all gunships. Although these machines retained their original Army serial numbers, this code became the aircraft "tail number." Photographs exist of HA(L)-3 helicopters with a white three digit tail code beginning with other than 3, but it is felt these numbers were simply the last three digits of the Army serial number which had been highlighted in white for expediency pending assignment of a permanent squadron number.
Some HA(L)-3 detachments carried the squadron and det identification in small white letters on the tailboom aft of the horizontal stabilizer. However, this does not appear to have been a squadron wide practice and is believed to date from the 1967-1968 time frame. After 1968, nearly all gunships carried on their nose the HA(L)-3 insignia, a fore-breathing dragon carrying a trident and shield all emblazoned on a circular field of white.
The UH1Ls and HH1Ks assigned to HA(L)-3 were painted in the then standard navy gray with associated markings and no apparent attempt was made to repaint them in the subdued scheme carried by the gunships. The only modex code known to have been carried by the Sealords were the letters SL followed by a one or two digit number. This became the helicopter call sign and probably tail number as well, the SL standing for Sealord. Some sources have suggested SL may have been the official Navy tail code assigned to HA(L)-3, but no evidence has ever surfaced to officially verify this. It is felt this was simply a local modex applied by the squadron to uniquely and quickly identify the Sealord helicopters as a separate entity from the gunship elements.