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Royal Australian Air Force Flags

Last modified: 2013-12-02 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: australia | air force ensign | stars: southern cross | southern cross | roundel | kangaroo (red) | stars: seven points |
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[Royal Australian Air Force flag, 1982-] image by Clay Moss, 27 Nov 2007
Flag proclaimed 6 May 1982; Ratio 1:2


See also:


Royal Australian Air Force, 1982-

The current RAAF Ensign is a "light blue Australian ensign" with the southern cross tilted and the RAAF roundel featuring a leaping kangaroo in the lower fly.
Jonathan Dixon, 17 April 2003

In 1981 the RAF roundel on the RAAF Ensign was changed into the red kangaroo roundel. The new design was approved by HM the Queen in 1981 and [proclaimed under] the Flags Act on 6 May 1982.
(Sources: [vau83], the Ausflag website and an article on the ABS site)
Miles Li, 17-18 April 2003

Because the Southern Cross on this ensign is tilted clockwise, the individual stars appear to have one point down and two points up.
Miles Li, 21 February 2005

The Gazettal of "The Royal Australian Air Force Ensign" on 6 May 1982 states:

"the Southern Cross as a whole is angled away from the fly with the "Gama Crucis" positioned as for the Australian National Flag and "Alpha Crucis" positioned 1/6 of the width of the fly from the middle line of the fly and 1/6 of the width of the fly from the bottom edge."
According to my geometry, this results in an angle of rotation of approximately 14.036 degrees from the vertical.
Ralph Kelly, 14 August 2005


Royal Australian Air Force, 1948-1982

[Royal Australian Air Force flag, 1948-1982] image by Clay Moss, 27 Nov 2007
Ratio 1:2 

The 'Flags of Australia' chart [vau83] said that the new RAAF ensign was approved by King George VI in December 1948 to replace the RAF Ensign in use in Australia since 1922. Similar infos can be found in the Ausflag website. The most authoritative source is on the Australian Bureau of Statistics site, an article contributed by the former Department of the Special Minister of State. It says that the southern cross and commonwealth star were added "in the same positions as on the Australian Blue Ensign". The result is a "light blue Australian ensign" with the cross tilted and the RAF roundel added in the lower fly. The flag was actually adopted by the RAAF in 1949.
Miles Li and Jonathan Dixon, 17-18 April 2003

In the flag exhibition at the York International Congress of Vexillology there were also two Australian Air Force Ensigns on display (Collection C. Moss). One was the current version from 1982. The other one was very interesting, insofar as it had a reverse different from the obverse. The obverse showed the old pattern (1948-82) with the "British" roundel, the reverse the new pattern (1982-) with the kangaroo roundel. Does anyone know when or if this version was used?
Marcus Schmöger, 11 November 2001

This flag was again proclaimed under Section 5 on 25 January 2008, with effect from 1 January 2008. The Legislative Instruments Act 2003 required the original to be lodged in a Federal Register, and due to an administrative oversight it was not, and the proclamation was automatically repealed. The new proclamation simply corrected that oversight.

The other 4 flags previously afforded the same status were re-proclaimed at the same time (the Defence Force Ensign proclamation needed to be back-dated further to 1 October 2006). One consequence of the Legislative Instruments Act, apart from the unintended repeal of the original proclamations, is to make all current legislative instruments enabled by the Flags Act available through the register at the Attorney-General's Department ComLaw site.
Jonathan Dixon, 23 June and 1 October 2008

The other surprise is that the seven-pointed stars on the Royal Australian Air Force Ensign are very irregular. Also the shades of blue and red aren't the same as the White Ensign and the white is actually a bluey grey.
Graham Bartram, 24 June 2008

The written description of the Ensign is also less detailed than that in the original proclamation.
Jonathan Dixon, 24 June 2008


Royal Australian Air Force, 1922-1948

[Royal Australian Air Force ensign, 1922-1948] image by Martin Grieve
Ratio 1:2 

From National Archives (PRO) AIR 2/211, on 24 July 1922: "Royal Air Force Ensign approved without difference as the Ensign of the Royal Australian Air Force."
David Prothero, 18 April 2003

Until 1948, the RAF ensign was used.
Miles Li, 7 July 1999


Usage of flags

The RAAF Manual of Ceremonial, AAP 5135.002, which is downloadable at this Air Cadet Corps site, gives details on the use of flags in the RAAF. The Australian national flag is flown at all times on RAAF establishments on its own pole at wing or group headquarters; it is never flown on an RAAF flag mast (i.e., a nautical-style mast with gaff and crosstree).

The RAAF ensign is flown from the gaff of the flag mast until sunset, or after sunset as well if flyng operations are still in progress, the ensign is spotlighted, and the lights do not interfere with operations.

Within Australia, the Australian national flag may be carried with the RAAF ensign if RAAF troops are parading with foreign troops who are carrying their own national flag. Outside Australia, RAAF troops parade with an RAAF ensign flanked by two Australian national flags. On these occasions, the national flag and RAAF ensign are mounted on staffs 2.6 m long tipped with 15 cm silver-colored spearheads.

"Under no circumstances are Colours overseas to be paraded or placed with the Australian National Flag or the RAAF Ensign."

At courts martial, the RAAF ensign and Australian national flag are both displayed in synthetic silk "suitably fringed and tasselled" mounted on crossed pikes. Same display in offices of senior officers.

The Australian national flag and RAAF ensign are folded as follows:

  • Folded lengthwise, lower edge being folded over to meet the upper.
  • Then the fly is brought up to meet the hoist.
  • The flag is folded lengthwise again.
  • The flag is folded lengthwise again, leaving nothing visible but the Union portion of the flag.

However, the section of the manual on funerals provides for US-style folding of the flag into a triangle at such occasions. This applies to either the Australian national flag or the RAAF ensign used to cover the casket.
Joe McMillan, 23 November 2003


Fin Flash

[Fin Flash] by Dov Gutterman

Used by both Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force as fin flash and based of one of the RAF flashes.
Dov Gutterman, 8 October 1999

Until 1942, standard RAF markings were used by the RAAF.

In order to avoid confusion with Japanese planes, the red was removed from the roundel and fin flash. See photo at http://www.raafmuseum.com.au/raaf2/assets/images/e30.jpg. This roundel and fin flash were in use from June 1942 until 1946.

Regulations of 26 September 1956 replaced the red dot with red kangaroo, but only in 1982 was it also changed on the RAAF ensign.

Naval air arm and miltary aviation use the same marking.
Dov Gutterman, 11 June 2004