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Guide to Air Force Heraldry

Link to the complete Guide of Air Force Heraldry (PDF)

The original version of A Guide to Air Force Heraldry was written by William M. Russell of the USAF Historical Research Center and published in 1985. During the years that have elapsed since then, several Air Force regulations and instructions have been issued to aid Air Force organizations with the design, submission, and procurement of organizational emblems and flags. Most recently, the governing policy on Air Force heraldry, AFI 84-105, Organizational Lineage, Honors, and Emblems, has been revised with several changes made in Chapter 3, "Air Force Heraldry." Consequently, the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) which receives many requests for assistance and guidance in the creation of emblems, updated this guide to conform to the policy changes and to give the field historian greater guidance. Our success will be measured by the user's ability to develop design proposals meeting current Air Force requirements and the needs of the organization.

Dr. Daniel L. Haulman
Organizational History Division
Air Force Historical Research Agency
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6424

Chapter 1

Heraldry Through the Ages

Heraldry as we know it today had its beginning in the early 12th century during the period between the First and Second Crusades. To ensure recognition while wearing armor and a helmet that partially hid the face, enterprising knights began to use identifying symbols and devices called cognizances, which were painted on their shields and embroidered on the pennons (cloth banners) attached to their lances.  

Read the full chapter here.

Chapter 3

Designing an Air Force Emblem

In designing an emblem for an organization, the most important factors to be considered are the organization's history, its mission (such as reconnaissance, airlift, fighter, medical services, security, civil engineering, etc.), the proper symbols to be depicted in the emblem design, the placement of the symbolic elements or "charges" on the design field, and color selection.  

Read the full chapter here.

Chapter 2

Organizational Emblems

On 6 May 1918, Foulois established the policy for insignia of aerial units, declaring that each squadron would have an official insignia painted on the middle of each side of the airplane fuselage. "The squadron will design their own insignia during the period of organizational training. The design must be submitted to the Chief of Air Service, AEF, for approval. The design should be simple enough to be recognizable from a distance." 

Read the full chapter here.

Chapter 4

Processing Air Force Emblems

AFI 84-105, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3.6. should serve as the authoritative guide in the processing of Air Force emblems. The information in this chapter of the "Guide to Air Force Heraldry" supplements the AFI.

Read the full chapter here.

Additonal Info