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Air Force (U.S.)

Last modified: 2019-08-02 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | air force |
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[U.S. Air Force flag]    
[U.S. Air Force flag]
Indoor/Parade version
image by Miles Li, 17 March 2007
Outdoor version
image by Rick Wyatt, 6 September 1998


See also:


Flag Description

The U.S. Air Force flag used for indoor display, ceremonies and parades is like the flags of the other services, it is 4' 4" at the hoist by 5' 6" on the fly with 2 1/2" yellow fringe, and is always carried or displayed with streamers. The field of the flag is ultramarine blue; this is the Air Force's "branch color." When it was still part of the Army, the Air Force's branch colors were ultramarine blue and golden orange, and these colors are still used by Army Aviation.
Tom Gregg, 10 October 1998

The first organizational color known to have been used by the Marine Corps was white with an elaborate painted design depicting an eagle flying with an anchor in its talons, surrounded by an ornate gold framework and bearing the motto, "To the shores of Tripoli." Marines in the Mexican and Civil Wars carried battle flags similar to the national ensign, but with the blue union containing an eagle perched atop the national shield within a ring of stars, and with additional stars in an arc above the ring, the total equaling the number of states in the Union. In 1881, the Corps adopted a color of blue silk, 72 by 78 inches, with the eagle, globe, and anchor embroidered in gold and silver thread, surrounded by a wreath of green oak leaves.

The current design, scarlet with the corps badge in gray and yellow, was adopted in 1939, although Marine Corps Order 4 had established scarlet and gold and the official colors of the Corps as early as 1925. The battle color measures 52 by 66 inches and is trimmed on three sides with 2 1/2 inch golden yellow fringe. The official battle color of the Corps is maintained by Marine Barracks, Washington, DC, and carried on parade by the color sergeant of the Marine Corps. In addition to the battle streamers affixed to the top of the staff, the staff itself is covered with sterling silver bands engraved with the names of actions in which the Corps has been engaged. The staff is topped with a chrome-plated spearhead finial.

The use of flags in the Marine Corps is governed by Navy Regulations and MCO P10520.3B, Flag Manual.
Joe McMillan, 27 June 2002


The US Air Force has an official flag directive, rather irritatingly subsumed in the publication on protocol. It is chapter 2 of Air Force Instruction (AFI) 34-1201, dated 4 October 2006. The guys at NAVA have it available for viewing as a PDF at www.nava.org/Flag%20Information/articles/Flag%20protocol-US%20AF.pdf.  A couple of new flags I noticed: an AF chaplain's service flag (with new guidance on display of the faith-specific chapel flags) and one for Department of the Air Force members of the Senior Executive Service.
Joe McMillan, 5 January 2007


375th Tactical Fighter Squadron Guidon

[Air Force Guidon] image by Tom Gregg, 27 September 1998

USAF uses the same guidon style for all units: ultramarine blue with the unit designation in yellow. The badge is the crest from the USAF COA. TFS stands for "Tactical Fighter Squadron."
Tom Gregg,, 27 September 1998


Organizational flags

USAF organizations at group level and above are authorized an organizational flag if they have an approved emblem. (The USAF organizational scheme is flight-squadron-group-wing-air division-numbered air force-major command.) All emblems for groups and above are in the standard USAF shield-with-scroll format; they are also worn as patches on combat uniforms and flight suits. In most cases the scroll bears the unit designation, but occasionally the unit motto appears instead. The organizational flag is 3 feet on the hoist by 4 feet on the fly plus 2 1/2-inch yellow fringe. The emblem appears beneath the USAF crest and is surrounded by an arc of thirteen white stars. If authorized, campaign and unit decoration streamers are displayed with the flag.
Tom Gregg, 27 June 2002

First Fighter Wing organizational flag

[Organizational flag] image by Tom Gregg, 27 June 2002

The 1st FW descends from the 1st Pursuit Group of the US Army Air Corps, and its emblem is an adaptation of the previous Army-style coat of arms. The 1st FW is part of the active Air Force, flying F-15C fighters. Its assigned squadrons include the famous 94th--the "Hat in the Ring" squadron of WW I fame.
Tom Gregg, 27 June 2002


129th Rescue Wing organizational flag

[Organizational flag] image by Tom Gregg, 27 June 2002

Organizational Flag, 129th Rescue Wing. The 129th RW is a unit of the California Air National Guard. It has two flying squadrons, one with C-130 tanker aircraft and one with HH-60 rescue helicopters. It began life as a transport unit, later converting to the combat rescue role. The 129th regularly flies rescue missions in the US and overseas, and it is credited with saving nearly 300 lives.
Tom Gregg, 27 June 2002


US Air Force Special Tactics flag

[Special Tactics flag] image located by Dave Fowler, 10 February 2015

A screen-grab from a video showing an unofficial US Air Force Special Tactics flag. (Special Tactics units are special operations organizations with combat controllers, para-rescue and combat weather personnel).
Source article here: http://www.nbcnews.com/pages/weathermen


US Air Force Symbol (2000)

[Special Tactics flag] image located by Esteban Rivera, 21 May 2015

I came across this picture (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/01/08/world/08atwar-antarctica-2/08atwar-antarctica-2-blog480.jpg, source: http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/climbing-the-worlds-highest-mountains-to-honor-heroes/?_r=0) showing a variant of the U.S. Air Force flag, showing a white horizontal flag with the U.S. Air Force Symbol (all blue version). Moreover: the picture caption reads "Capt. Graydon Muller, left, and Capt. Rob Marshall display the U.S. Air Force flag from Antarctica's highest peak, Mount Vinson, in 2010" that is, two Air Force Officers holding a flag.

The symbol was introduced in January 2000 as follows: "in the late 1990s, Air Force senior leadership recognized the need to design an official symbol and develop a centralized theme to encourage young people to join, encourage airmen to stay, and to build understanding, appreciation, and support for America's Air Force. They directed a commercial company, specializing in corporate branding, to research and develop a unique symbol. Company representatives traveled throughout the Air Force and to major U.S. cities to conduct research and become intimately familiar with the Air Force and its culture, environment, and heritage.

The new Air Force symbol is based on the familiar World War II "Hap" Arnold wings (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Army_Air_Corps_Hap_Arnold_Wings.svg) and represents the service's heritage. The symbolís modern design represents the Air Forceís present and future leading edge capabilities defending the United States."
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Air_Force_Symbol
Esteban Rivera, 21 May 2015

I think this is an unofficial logo flag, meant for folks to be able to show their support for the Air Force without the expense associated with purchasing an official USAF flag. A quick search on Google using the terms "USAF" and "flag" revealed a number of these flags for sale from various outlets, but also the same design with colors reversed (white logo on blue field), as well as a blue field with the blue logo fimbriated white. Some have the full "U.S. Air Force" inscribed below the logo; others just have "Air Force." Some forgo the inscription in favor of a ring of 13 stars encircling the logo (some have white stars, others have dark blue stars fimbriated white). The shade of blue also tends to fluctuate with the manufacturer.
Randy Young, 25 May 2015


US Air Force 60th Anniversary flag

[60th Anniversary flag] image by Randy Young, 25 May 2015

In this image (http://media.dma.mil/2007/Mar/02/2000510765/-1/-1/0/070301-F-2530W-002.JPG, source: http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/127769/air-force-60th-anniversary-flag-raised-at-memorial.aspx)

Picture credits are: Airmen 1st Class Ahmad Ware (left) and Brandon Bridges unveil the Air Force 60th Anniversary flag for the first time March 1 (2007) at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va. The ceremony was attended by Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynn. The Airmen are Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen. (U.S. Air Force photo/SSgt. Madelyn Waychoff). "The flag will fly at the Air Force memorial until the Air Force's 60th birthday on Sep 18".

The date chosen was in commemoration of the following: "On this day, the man who used the B-17 to such a great effect, General Tooey Spaatz, formally succeeded General of the Army Hap Arnold, commanding general, Army Air Forces," said (Air Force Chief of Staff) General (T. Michael) Moseley".

The flag is explained as follows: "According to 60th Anniversary officials, the logo was developed to capture the theme of the Air Force's 60th anniversary, Heritage to Horizons: Commemorating 60 Years of Air and Space Power.

The Hap Arnold wings on the logo signify the Air Force's heritage of ingenuity, courage and resolve. The three spires represent the new Air Force Memorial and are evocative of flight and of the contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds' bomb burst maneuver.

The memorial's spires represent the Air Force's core values: integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. Also represented are the integral components comprising the Air Force: uniformed service members, civilians and industry partners. Their upward extension signifies the service's commitment and resolve toward shaping the future.

The logo's dual shades represent air and space, where the Air Force flies and fights to protect America's freedom.
Esteban Rivera, 21 May 2015