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Kingdom of Italy (1848-1946) - Naval Rank Flags

Last modified: 2021-01-02 by rob raeside
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Minister of the Navy

image by Miles Li, 27 March 2009

Instituted by general order dated February 26th 1927. Hoisted at the main to indicate the presence on board of the Minister of the Navy, and at the bow of ships' launches and other minor craft. To be saluted with 19 guns.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

The specifications for the flags are as follows:  
- overall proportion, 20:30 (2:3)
- width of the yellow border, 1; distance to the border of the flag, 2
- overall proportion of (crown + anchor), 5 x 12 for the Minister's flag, 5 x15 for the Under Secretary's flag. In both cases, the crown and anchor are centered vertically.
Ivan Sache, 2 December 2004

Previous Flag (1868-1893)

image by Miles Li, 30 December 2020

There is a special issue of 'Rivista Marittima' (no. 4 of April 1992), written by Gino Galuppini and Franco Gay, title 'Insegne bandiere distintive e stemmi della Marina in Italia. Due secoli di storia' (Ensigns, rank flags and arms of the Italian Navy.  Two centuries of history) [g2g92]. Between pages 24 and 28, the brochure describes "Le insegne e bandiere distintive addotate nel 1868' (Engigns and rank flags added in 1868): 
Navy Minister (ministro della Marina) 1868-1893: national flag with gold foul anchor on the green stripe.
The flag can be seen in a slightly different rendition - the Navy minister has an unfouled anchor in the Hounsell flag book "Flags and Signals of All Nations" (probably 1873): pp. 38-40 of the pdf file.
Jan Mertens, 30 December 2007


Undersecretary of Marine

image by Miles Li, 27 December 2004

Same as the Minister of the Navy, but to be saluted by only 17 guns.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Forces during Battle

image by Ivan Sache, 29 April 2000

Square ensign with the Savoy cross (white on red) and a blue border.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000


Great admiral (or Admiral of the Fleet)

image by Miles Li, 21 December 2020

Rectangular (2:3) blue ensign with four five-pointed yellow stars placed along the upper hoist-lower fly diagonal.
Now used by a Fleet Admiral.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Admiral of the Fleet - Instituted by general order No. 291, dated December 12th, 1926 and hoisted at the main to indicate the presence on board of an Admiral of the Fleet and on the bow of ships' launches and other minor craft. To be saluted with 19 guns. The stars on the Admirals' flags  were six-pointed, but later  changed to five points by a decree dated September 3rd, 1916.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Chief of the Admiralty Staff

image by Miles Li, 21 December 2020

Same as Great Admiral, but with a yellow border inside the flag. The number of stars (1 to 4) reflects the rank of the officer
Still in use by the Chief of Naval Staff (4 stars).
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache, 29 April 2000

Royal naval Chief of Staff (Note: the image is with 3 stars with the same kind of blue as other rank flags. ed.) - Instituted by general order No. 78, dated March 19th 1917. The number of stars displayed indicates the rank of the admiral. Hoisted at the main or on the bow of ships' launches and other minor craft. The stars on the Admirals' flags  were six-pointed, but later  changed to five points by a decree dated September 3rd, 1916
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Fleet Admiral (or Admiral (1st Class))

image by Miles Li, 21 December 2020

Rank flags during World War II:
Ammiraglio di armata - A blue flag with three yellow stars arranged on an (imagined) line from the upper left to the lower right corner.
Source: Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II
Marcus Wendel , 5 September 1999

Same as Great Admiral, but with only three stars. Still in use.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Admiral (1st Class) - Instituted by general order No. 291 dated December 12th, 1926 and hoisted at the main to indicate the presence on board of an Admiral or on the bow of ships' launches and other minor craft. To be saluted with 17 guns. The stars on the Admirals' flags  were six-pointed, but later  changed to five points by a decree dated September 3rd, 1916
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

Previous Flag (1868-1893)

image by Miles Li, 30 December 2020

There is A special issue of 'Rivista Marittima' (no. 4 of April 1992), written by Gino Galuppini and Franco Gay, title 'Insegne bandiere distintive e stemmi della Marina in Italia. Due secoli di storia' (Ensigns, rank flags and arms of the Italian Navy.  Two centuries of history) [g2g92]. Between pages 24 and 28, the brochure describes "Le insegne e bandiere distintive addotate nel 1868' (Engigns and rank flags added in 1868): 
Admiral (ammiraglio): national flag with three white six-pointed stars placed vertically, and evenly, on the green stripe..
Jan Mertens, 30 December 2007

Flag at "Flags of Maritime Nations 1882"

image by Miles Li, 31 December 2020

From the rank flags of the Royal Italian Navy as shown in the US Navy publication "Flags of Maritime Nations 1882":  Admiral had the naval ensign with three white balls in the canton arranged vertically.
These rank flags were replaced with the blue bedsheet designs by the time the next (1899) edition of "Flags of Maritime Nations" was published.
Miles Li, 30 December 2007

1893-1916

image by Miles Li, 1 January 2021


Squadron Admiral (or Vice-Admiral (1st Class))

image by Miles Li, 28 December 2020

Rank flags during World War II:
Ammiraglio di squarda - The same as above but with the middle star replaced by a crown.
Source: Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II
Marcus Wendel , 5 September 1999

Vice-Admiral (1st Class) - Instituted by general order No. 87 dated April 13th, 1939. Hoisted at the main to indicate the presence on board of a Vice Admiral or on the bow of ships' launches and other minor craft. To be saluted with 15 guns. The stars on the Admirals' flags  were six-pointed, but later  changed to five points by a decree dated September 3rd, 1916
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

Previous Flag (1868-1893)

image by Miles Li, 30 December 2020

There is A special issue of 'Rivista Marittima' (no. 4 of April 1992), written by Gino Galuppini and Franco Gay, title 'Insegne bandiere distintive e stemmi della Marina in Italia. Due secoli di storia' (Ensigns, rank flags and arms of the Italian Navy.  Two centuries of history) [g2g92]. Between pages 24 and 28, the brochure describes "Le insegne e bandiere distintive addotate nel 1868' (Engigns and rank flags added in 1868): 
Vice Admiral (viceammiraglio): as above with two stars, distributed evenly.
Jan Mertens, 30 December 2007

Flag at "Flags of Maritime Nations 1882"

image by Miles Li, 31 December 2020

From the rank flags of the Royal Italian Navy as shown in the US Navy publication "Flags of Maritime Nations 1882":  Vice Admiral had the naval ensign with two white balls in the canton arranged vertically.
These rank flags were replaced with the blue bedsheet designs by the time the next (1899) edition of "Flags of Maritime Nations" was published.
Miles Li, 30 December 2007


Division Admiral (or Vice-Admiral (2nd Class))

image by Miles Li, 21 December 2020

Rank flags during World War II:
Ammiralgio di divisione - The same as above but with only two stars.
Source: Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II
Marcus Wendel , 5 September 1999

Same as Admiral, but with only two stars. Still in use.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Vice-Admiral (2nd Class) - Instituted by general order No. 291 dated December 12th, 1926 and hoisted at the main to indicate the presence on board of a Rear Admiral or on the bow of ships' launches and other minor craft. To be saluted with 13 guns. The stars on the Admirals' flags  were six-pointed, but later  changed to five points by a decree dated September 3rd, 1916
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

1893-1916

image by Miles Li, 1 January 2021


Rear Admiral

image by Miles Li, 21 December 2020

Rank flags during World War II:
Contrammiraglio - A blue flag with a centered yellow star .
Source: Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II
Marcus Wendel , 5 September 1999

Same as Admiral, but with only one star. Still in use.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Instituted by general order No. 291 dated December 12th, 1926 and hoisted at the main to indicate the presence on board of a Rear Admiral or on the bow of ships' launches and other minor craft. To be saluted with 11 guns. The stars on the Admirals' flags  were six-pointed, but later  changed to five points by a decree dated September 3rd, 1916
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

Previous Flag (1868-1893)

image by Miles Li, 30 December 2020

There is A special issue of 'Rivista Marittima' (no. 4 of April 1992), written by Gino Galuppini and Franco Gay, title 'Insegne bandiere distintive e stemmi della Marina in Italia. Due secoli di storia' (Ensigns, rank flags and arms of the Italian Navy.  Two centuries of history) [g2g92]. Between pages 24 and 28, the brochure describes "Le insegne e bandiere distintive addotate nel 1868' (Engigns and rank flags added in 1868): 
Rear Admiral (contrammiraglio): as above with one star, placed in the centre of the green stripe.
Jan Mertens, 30 December 2007

Flag at "Flags of Maritime Nations 1882"

image by Miles Li, 31 December 2020

From the rank flags of the Royal Italian Navy as shown in the US Navy publication "Flags of Maritime Nations 1882":  Rear Admiral had the naval ensign with one white ball in the canton arranged vertically.
These rank flags were replaced with the blue bedsheet designs by the time the next (1899) edition of "Flags of Maritime Nations" was published.
Miles Li, 30 December 2007

1893-1916

image by Miles Li, 1 January 2021


Captain Chief of a Division

image by Ivan Sache, 11 March 2000

Plain blue forked ensign. Still in use.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Captain commanding a naval division - Instituted by Royal Decree dated September 20th, 1882 hoisted at the main to indicate the presence on board of the Senior Captain, should several ships lie at anchor without a Flag being hoisted on any of them.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

Previous Flag (1868-1893)

image by Miles Li, 30 December 2020

There is A special issue of 'Rivista Marittima' (no. 4 of April 1992), written by Gino Galuppini and Franco Gay, title 'Insegne bandiere distintive e stemmi della Marina in Italia. Due secoli di storia' (Ensigns, rank flags and arms of the Italian Navy.  Two centuries of history) [g2g92]. Between pages 24 and 28, the brochure describes "Le insegne e bandiere distintive addotate nel 1868' (Engigns and rank flags added in 1868): 
Capitani di vascello - National flag ending in a swallowtail, the red stripe being twice as large (measured at the horizontal edges) as the others.
Jan Mertens, 30 December 2007

Flag at "Flags of Maritime Nations 1882"

image by Miles Li, 31 December 2020

From the rank flags of the Royal Italian Navy as shown in the US Navy publication "Flags of Maritime Nations 1882":  Captain in command had a broad pennant, i.e. swallowed tailed version of the naval ensign, although the book captioned it as that of a "commodore", a rank which has never existed in the Italian Navy!
These rank flags were replaced with the blue bedsheet designs by the time the next (1899) edition of "Flags of Maritime Nations" was published.
Miles Li, 30 December 2007


Senior Officer

image by Ivan Sache ,13 July 1999

Plain blue pennant. Still in use.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Instituted by a general order dated September 11th, 1913 and hoisted at the foremast to indicate, should several destroyers or submarines come together, which ship has on board the senior officer.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Chief of a Flotilla of Destroyers, Torpedo Boats, Submarines, Battle
Cruisers and Submarine Hunters

image by Ivan Sache, 13 July 1999

Pennant with ten alternating red and blue diagonal (upper hoist-lower fly) stripes.
Now used by a commodore commanding a flotilla.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Commander of a light units flotilla - Instituted by a general order dated June 8th 1923 and hoisted at the foremast to indicate the Commander of a Flotilla of any type of small units: destroyers, torpedo boats, submarines, PT boats, etc.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Chief of an Half-Flotilla of Destroyers

image by Ivan Sache , 13 July 1999

Pennant with seven alternating white and red diagonal (lower hoist-upper fly) stripes.
Now used by a captain commanding a flotilla.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Commander of a destroyers flotilla - Instituted by general order dated April 21st, 1904 and hoisted at the foremast to indicate the Commander of a formation of Destroyers.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Chief of an Half-Flotilla of Torpedo Boats

image by Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Same with blue stripes instead of red.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Commander of a torpedo boats flotilla - Instituted by a general order dated September 11th, 1913 and hoisted at the foremast to indicate the Commander of a formation of torpedo boats.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Chief of an Half-Flotilla of Submarines

image by Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Plain red pennant.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Commander of a submarines flotilla - Instituted by general order dated June 8th 1923 and hoisted to indicate the Commander of a formation of Submarines.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Chief of an Half-Flotilla of Cruisers and Submarine Hunters

image by Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Pennant with five horizontal stripes, red-white-blue-white-red.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92].
Ivan Sache , 29 April 2000

Commander of a group of motor torpedo boats (M.A.S.) (PT boats) - Instituted by general order dated June 8th 1923 and hoisted to indicate the Commander of a formation of PT boats.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Technical Corps

General Officers of the Technical Corps of the Navy hoisted white flags with red stars, like generals of the Army. By general order No. 23 dated March 18th, 1944, they were granted the same blue flags as the Admirals, but with white stars instead of the yellow ones.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

Inspector General (Vice-Admiral - Technical Corps (1st Class))

image by Miles Li, 28 December 2020
based on www.regiamarina.net

Lieutenant General (Vice-Admiral - Technical Corps (2nd Class))

image by Miles Li, 22 December 2020
based on www.regiamarina.net

Major General (Rear Admiral - Technical Corps)

image by Miles Li, 22 December 2020
based on www.regiamarina.net