Royal Naval Air Service Rank Insignia, 1914-1918

Commissioned Officers

The uniforms of the RNAS had just begun to take shape when the war began in 1914. Officers who had entered the RNAS directly wore eagles in place of the anchors on the buttons and cap badges, and flying officers wore an eagle on the left cuff. Officers who had transferred to the RNAS from the regular navy continued to wear their former cap badge and buttons.

In June 1917, flying officers were ordered to wear eagles on both cuffs or shoulder straps, and observer badges were authorized. Stars were also introduced to indicate higher appointments in flying units. In November 1917, non-flying officers attached to the RNAS were ordered to wear a winged "A" insignia above their stripes. This highest rank held by an observer officer before amalgamation with the Royal Air Force was Squadron Observer (under 8 years seniority).

1914-June 1917

Cap badge Cap badge
Cap peak Cap peak


Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Wing
Captain
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Wing
Commander
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Squadron
Commander
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Flight
Lieutenant
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Flight
Sub-lieutenant

After June 1917

Cap badge
Cap peak

Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Wing Captain
with rank of Captain RN
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Wing Captain
with rank below Captain RN
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Wing Commander

Cap badge
Cap peak

Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Squadron Commander
of 8 years seniority
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Squadron Commander,
under 8 years seniority
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Flight Commander
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Flight Lieutenant
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Flight Sub-lieutenant
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Probationary
Flight Officer

Cap badge
Cap peak

Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Squadron Observer,
under 8 years seniority
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Flight Observer
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Observer Lieutenant
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Observer Sub-lieutenant
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Probationary
Observer Officer

Attached officers, after November 1917

cap badge cap badge
shoulder insignia shoulder insignia
sleeve insignia sleeve insignia
Lieutenant, RNVR, attached to RNAS Sub-lieutenant, RN, attached to RNAS

Warrant Officers

1914-1918

cap badge

cap peak


Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Warrant Officer 1st Grade
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Warrant Officer 2nd Grade, 10 years seniority
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Warrant Officer 2nd Grade, under 10 years seniority (flying)
Shoulder insignia
Sleeve insignia
Warrant Officer 2nd Grade, under 10 years seniority


Petty Officers and Ratings

RNAS ratings wore insignia similar to the rest of the Royal Navy. All wore the "fore and aft rig" of jacket and tie with gilt buttons for Chief Petty Officers and black buttons for others. Chief Petty Officers generally did not wear specialty badges, just the gilt eagles on the jacket collar. Right arm distinguishing badges incorporated the eagle.

cap badge cap badge

collar insignia
(collar)
left sleeve badge
(left sleeve)
left sleeve badge
(left sleeve)
cuff
(cuff)
Chief Petty Officer Petty Officer Leading Rate

 

 

Sleeve insignia
Air Mechanic
Sleeve insignia
Aerial Gunlayer
Sleeve insignia
Airship Coxswain
Sleeve insignia
Aeroplane Pilot
Sleeve insignia
Airframe Mechanic
Sleeve insignia
Wireless Operator

 

Sources:


All text and images © Justin T. Broderick, 2013 unless otherwise indicated.