RAF officer ranks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Common anglophone military ranks
NaviesArmiesAir forces
Officers
Admiral of the fleetMarshal /
field marshal
Marshal of
the air force
AdmiralGeneralAir chief marshal
Vice admiralLieutenant generalAir marshal
Rear admiralMajor generalAir vice-marshal
CommodoreBrigadierAir commodore
CaptainColonelGroup captain
CommanderLieutenant colonelWing commander
Lieutenant
commander
Major /
commandant
Squadron
leader
LieutenantCaptainFlight lieutenant
Sub-lieutenantLieutenantFlying officer
Ensign2nd lieutenantPilot officer
MidshipmanOfficer cadetOfficer cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Warrant officerSergeant major /
warrant officer
Warrant officer
Petty officerSergeantSergeant
Leading seamanCorporalCorporal
SeamanPrivateAircraftman
 
Jump to: navigation, search

Ranks[edit]

NATO CodeOF-10OF-9OF-8OF-7OF-6OF-5OF-4OF-3OF-2OF-1OF(D)Student Officer
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(Edit)
RAF-MRAF-OF-10.png
Marshal of the RAF shoulder Board.png
RAF-ACM-OF-9.pngRAF-AM-OF-8.pngRAF-AVM-OF-7.pngRAF-Air Cdre-OF-6.pngRAF-Gp Capt-OF-5.pngRAF-Wg Cdr-OF-4.pngRAF-Sqn Ldr-OF-3.pngRAF-Flt Lt-OF-2.pngRAF-Fg Off-OF-1.pngRAF-Plt Off-OF-1.pngRAF-OC-SO.png
Marshal of the Royal Air Force1Air Chief MarshalAir MarshalAir Vice-MarshalAir CommodoreGroup CaptainWing CommanderSquadron LeaderFlight LieutenantFlying OfficerPilot OfficerActing Pilot OfficerOfficer Cadet or student officer
AbbreviationMRAFAir Chf MshlAir MshlAVMAir CdreGp CaptWg CdrSqn LdrFlt LtFg OffPlt OffAPOOff Cdt
  • 1 Currently honorary/wartime rank only.

Origins[edit]

Lieutenant General David Henderson originally proposed that Royal Air Force officers use a combination of British Army and Royal Navy ranks. However, the War Office argued that the RAF should have its own ranks and the Admiralty opposed any use of their rank titles.

Badges of rank[edit]

On 1 April 1918, Air Force Memorandum 2 specified rank insignia for the newly established independent force. Rank was to be worn on the jacket cuff and was derived from the Royal Navy's rings, each equivalent rank having the same number of rings. However, second lieutenants (now pilot officers) displayed a crowned eagle only and the Navy's loop was not used for any rank. Depending on the uniform, either gold or pale blue on grey braid was worn.

In August 1918, Air Ministry Weekly Order 617 added a single band of 1/4 inch braid below the second lieutenant's eagle and all other officer ranks also received a crowned eagle above their braid.

RAF Mess Dress cuff insignia for a flight lieutenant

In 1919 the colour of the rank braid was changed to black with a central pale blue stripe. However, on RAF mess dress rank continued to be displayed in gold.

Sleeve ranks[edit]

The ranks worn on the sleeve are common to all RAF uniform variants incorporating the Jacket. The centre of the rank (measured from the bottom of the lowest braid to the top of the highest) should be 9.5cm from the cuff and each row of braiding should have a space of 3mm from other rows. The thinnest braid, as found on the pilot officer's rank, is 6mm; the Flying Officer's braid common to all the ranks except air commodore and pilot officer, is 14mm, and the thickest braid, as found on all air officer ranks, is 51mm.

Shoulder boards[edit]

Air officers rank shoulder board
Shoulder board of marshal of the RAF

On certain ceremonial occasions, RAF officers wear shoulder boards with their uniform. It is quite common for air officers to be seen in No 1A uniform with shoulder boards, sword and ceremonial belt. For other officers the belt is omitted and golden braid of the rank, as used normally, can be worn on the shoulders instead.

Rank titles[edit]

As mentioned above, it was originally proposed that the RAF ranks were to be derived from existing Royal Navy and Army ranks. Both services were consulted and both reacted unfavourably—the Navy unhappy about the use of its higher ranks and the Army complaining it provided the "junior ranks". This resulted in a compromise whereby the officer ranks were proposed to be: ensign, lieutenant, flight leader, squadron leader, reeve, banneret, fourth ardian, third ardian, second ardian, ardian and air marshal. A further proposal was: ensign, lieutenant, flight-leader, squadron-leader, wing-leader, leader, flight ardian, squadron ardian, wing ardian, ardian, air marshal.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, these contrived ranks were rejected and on 1 August 1919, Air Ministry Weekly Order 973 introduced new rank titles for RAF officers. They were based on Royal Navy ranks and their titles were influenced by the usage in the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) during World War I. For example, the RAF rank of flight lieutenant was based on the RNAS rank of the same name. The rank of squadron leader derived its name from the RNAS rank of squadron commander. Initially the highest rank was titled marshal of the air. However, only a few days after it was promulgated, this rank title was changed to marshal of the Royal Air Force at the request of King George V, his belief being that the former sounded too much like it encroached on the attributes of God.

Composite braid[edit]

Composite braid as worn by a squadron leader

RAF officers typically wear composite braid rank slides with their working and operational uniforms. Composite braid consists of a single piece of fabric, where the "background" between the rank rings is made from blue-grey material. Composite braid rank slides are often referred to as "bar-code" in RAF slang.

Command flags[edit]

UK-Air-OF10-Flag.svg
MRAF
UK-Air-OF9-Flag.svg
Air Chf Mshl
UK-Air-OF8-Flag.svg
Air Mshl
UK-Air-OF7-Flag.svg
AVM
UK-Air-OF6-Flag.svg
Air Cdre
UK-Air-OF5-Flag.svg
Gp Capt
UK-Air-OF4-Flag.svg
Wg Cdr
UK-Air-OF3-Flag.svg
Sqn Ldr


Distinction between ranks and appointments[edit]

Many RAF ranks do not imply the appointment or duties of an officer. For example, a Pilot Officer may well not be trained to pilot an aircraft, a Squadron Leader does not necessarily command a squadron, nor a Wing Commander necessarily command a wing, nor a Group Captain command a group.

Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Force[edit]

In the Air Training Corps, the rank system for officers is identical, but the highest rank is wing commander (for volunteers only), with higher posts being held by regular RAF officers such as Commandant Air Cadets (ACO) Air Commodore Dawn McAfferty. Officers in the Air Training Corps are part of the RAFVR(T), and as such wear a small gold badge shaped as the letters VRT, with the T centrally below the VR. The same applies for the RAF section of the CCF.

VR(T)as placed on Officer Rank slides (Flt. Lt)

Other air forces[edit]

Common anglophone military ranks
NaviesArmiesAir forces
Officers
Admiral of the fleetMarshal /
field marshal
Marshal of
the air force
AdmiralGeneralAir chief marshal
Vice admiralLieutenant generalAir marshal
Rear admiralMajor generalAir vice-marshal
CommodoreBrigadierAir commodore
CaptainColonelGroup captain
CommanderLieutenant colonelWing commander
Lieutenant
commander
Major /
commandant
Squadron
leader
LieutenantCaptainFlight lieutenant
Sub-lieutenantLieutenantFlying officer
Ensign2nd lieutenantPilot officer
MidshipmanOfficer cadetOfficer cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Warrant officerSergeant major /
warrant officer
Warrant officer
Petty officerSergeantSergeant
Leading seamanCorporalCorporal
SeamanPrivateAircraftman

The following air forces use a similar or identical officer rank structure and rank insignia to the RAF:

The following air forces use a similar or identical officer rank structure to the RAF, but use army-style rank insignia:

The following air forces use rank insignia for their officers which are similar or identical to that of the RAF, but employ army rank titles:

The following air forces formerly used a similar or identical officer rank structure to the RAF:

The following air forces formerly used similar rank insignia to the RAF:

USAF general Charles Horner wearing the short-lived silver rings rank insignia

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Royal Australian Air Force / Royal Australian Air Force". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  2. ^ "Royal New Zealand Air Force /". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  3. ^ "Hellenic Air Force / Πολεμική Αεροπορία - Polemikí Aeroporía". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  4. ^ "The Nigerian Air Force Service, Colours, Wings and Rank Structure". Nigerianairforce.net. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  5. ^ "Indian Air Force / भारतीय वायु सेना / Bhartiya Vāyu Sen&#257". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  6. ^ "Bangladesh Air Force / বাংলাদেশ বিমান বাহিনী - Bangladesh Biman Bahini". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  7. ^ "Sri Lanka Air Force /". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  8. ^ "Ghana Air Force /". Uniforminsignia.org. 2012-12-16. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  9. ^ "Air Force of Zimbabwe / Air Force of Zimbabwe". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  10. ^ "Royal Thai Air Force / กองทัพอากาศไทย - Kong Thab Akat Thai". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  11. ^ "Chilean Air Force / Fuerza Aérea de Chile". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  12. ^ "Pakistan Air Force - PAF / پاک فضائیہ - Pak Fiza´ya". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  13. ^ "Egyptian Air Force / القوات الجوية المصري&#1577". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  14. ^ "Afghan National Air Corps /". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  15. ^ "Argentine Air Force / Fuerza Aérea Argentina". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  16. ^ "Belgian Air Component / Luchtcomponent-Composante". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  17. ^ "Eritrean Air Force /". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  18. ^ "Finnish Air Force / Suomen ilmavoimat / Finska flygvapnet". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  19. ^ [1][dead link]
  20. ^ "Royal Malaysian Air Force / Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  21. ^ "Peruvian Air Force / Fuerza Aérea del Perú". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  22. ^ "Royal Netherlands Air Force / Koninklijke Luchtmacht". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  23. ^ "Royal Danish Air Force / Flyvevåbnet". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  24. ^ "Air Force / Aeronautica Militare". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  25. ^ "Romanian Air Force / Forţele Aeriene Române". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  26. ^ "Romanian Air Force / Forţele Aeriene Române". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  27. ^ "South African Air Force /". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  28. ^ "Canadian Air Force / Canadian Forces Air Command - AIRCOM". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  29. ^ "Irish Air Corps / Aer Chór na hÉireann". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  30. ^ "Uruguayan Air Force / Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  31. ^ "Canadian Air Force / Canadian Forces Air Command - AIRCOM". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  32. ^ "Royal Rhodesian Air Force /". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  33. ^ "Republic of Singapore Air Force / 新加坡空军部队 - Angkatan Udara Republik Singapura - சிங்கப்பூர் ஆகாயப்பட&#3016". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  34. ^ "U.S. Air Force / United States Air Force". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  35. ^ Although the USAF discontinued the RAF-pattern rank insignia introduced by General Merrill McPeak in 1994, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps officer cadets use identical insignia today.
  36. ^ "Pakistan Air Force - PAF / پاک فضائیہ - Pak Fiza´ya". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  37. ^ "Royal Air Force of Oman / al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Sultanat Oman". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  38. ^ "Air Force /". Uniforminsignia.org. 2013-01-05. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  39. ^ "Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo / Force Aérienne du Congo". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  40. ^ "Air Force /". Uniforminsignia.org. 2013-01-05. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  41. ^ "Air Force / Force Aérienne". Uniforminsignia.org. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]