Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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RAF Flying Badges Obsolete

Pilots' Flying Badge  

(Kings Crown)

Pilots Wings (King's Crown) Adopted in 1918 by modifying the RFC badge, replacing the letters RFC with RAF.
Observers' Flying Badge Originally adopted in 1915 by the RFC, its use was continued by the RAF until superseded by the Navigators' and Air Bombers' badges in 1942
Air Gunners Badge Air Gunner's (Flying Bullet) Badge

Adopted in 1923, this badge was worn by ground  tradesmen who acted as air gunners in addition to their normal duties.
RPAS Flying Badge Introduced in 2013 for pilots of remotely piloted aircraft, but Withdrawn in April 2019 and replaced by standard Pilots' Flying Badge
Air Gunner Adopted in 1939 when the role of Air Gunner became a full-time aircrew category.  WOp/AG's wore the Wireless Operators sleeve badge as well as this badge.
Navigator Adopted in April 1942 when the 'trade' of Observer was abolished and split into the two new categories of Navigator and Air Bomber.

Replaced by WSO badge in April 2003

Air Electronics Officer/Operator The expanding array of sensory equipment carried aboard the V-Bombers and Maritime aircraft led to Air Electronics Officers/Operators being introduced in 1956, replacing most Air Signallers by 1963.

Replaced by WSO badge in April 2003

Air Loadmaster The Air Quartermaster was replaced by the Air Loadmaster in 1970.

Replaced by WSO badge in April 2003

Air Signaller With the increasing complexities of airborne electronic equipment, the role of wireless operator was finally separated from that of air gunner in 1943. However, it was January 1944 before this new badge was introduced.  Replaced by AEOs in 1963 except in specialist units.

Replaced by WSO badge in April 2003

Radio Observer/Observer Radio Introduced in 1941 Radio Observer (later changed to Observer Radio) was a security name for airborne radar operators, but was replaced by the 'N' badge in 1942, but it had a brief resurgence in 1956-57
Air Bomber/Bomb Aimer Adopted in April 1942 when the 'trade' of Observer was abolished and split into the two new categories of Navigator and Air Bomber
Air Engineer Adopted in 1942 with the introduction of the new four-engined heavy bombers.  The Air Engineer effectively replaced the second pilot.  Training for this 'trade' ended in April 2006.
Meteorological Observer With the increase in Meteorological squadrons in the later part of WW2, there was an increasing need for aircrew specially trained in making the detailed observations needed.  This resulted in the introduction of this badge in 1945
Air Quartermaster The increasing importance of transport led to the creation of this aircrew category in 1962.  Responsible for the safe loading and unloading of  such aircraft and the supervision of aerial dropping.  Cabin crew on board trooping flights were also recategorised as AQMs

The 'half-wing' badges shown on this page are provided courtesy of RAF Flying Branch & NCA Trade Advisors at the Ministry of Defence

This page was last updated on 15/06/20

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