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Soviet Air Force

Last modified: 2012-01-20 by andrew weeks
Keywords: air force | sun: rays throughout | propeller | error | hammer and sickle: no star | hammer and sickle (white) | star: with hammer and sickle | star: 5 points (red) | anchor (golden) | anchor: winged |
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Soviet Air Force flag
image by Eugene Ipavec, 7 May 2008
See also:

Description of the flag

In Vlaggen, Standaarden en Wapens, by Preben Kannik [kan5X], in which this flag is intitled «Luchtmacht» (airforce), it was introduced c. 1924.
Jarig Bakker, 23 Jul 1999

The flag used by the Soviet Air Force had an air force blue field, with a fourteen-ray rising sun (similar to that of Japan) in yellow. A red star, with yellow hammer and sickle inside, featured at the centre of the sun-disc, all above the centre of the flag. Beneath the star was a winged propeller in white and black. Proportion 3:5. It should be noted that when the flag was approved on August 29, 1924, it was known as «Aerodrome flag of aviation detachments and formations». It was not until May 15, 1967 that the flag was officially renamed «USSR Air Force Flag». (Reference: [s9u86].)
Miles Li, 06 Nov 1999

The Soviet Air Force had one of the most beautiful flags ever made; unfortunately, it is also one of the least known in the West. A similar design, used as a badge, ultimately dated back to 3 April 1920. (see plate 15 of Guido Rosignoli’s Air Force Badges and Insignia of World War Two [rsgXX].)
Miles Li, 09 Apr 1998

I’ve seen an actual photo of this flag: The shade of blue is light, yes, and the yellow shade is also light, not golden. The photo is in the back cover of an issue of Modelist Konstruktor magazine of the 1980’ies.
António Martins, 09 Sep 1999

as the photo is cropped, the edges are not visible and the precise dimensions therefore unsure.
Eugene Ipavec, 7 May 2008

Incorrect variants

Regarding the dimension of the Soviet AF flag, there has always been much confusion over its exact design even inside USSR. I have seen several photos of the flag:

  • The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Former Soviet Union, Cambridge University Press, 1994, p.383. Soviet AF ensign flown in a protest rally. Errors: blue strips (rather than yellow strips/rays) on the vertical axis; the proportion, apparently 1:2, might also be wrong.
  • Soviet Military Review, Military Publishing House, USSR Ministry of Defence, June 1988, p.41. Soviet AF ensign hung during a concert. Errors: only 13 yellow rays present; sun disc incorrectly placed at the centre of the flag rather than above the centre.
  • Inside the Soviet Army, authored by Carey Schofield, photographs by Leonid Yakutin, Headline Book Publishing PLC, 1991, p.30. Soviet military flags flown in a parade-like manner, meaning that these are probably the correct designs. The details of the Soviet AF ensign is not clear, but compared with the army flag next to it, I am quite sure that the AF ensign has the same proportion as that of the army (i.e. 3:5).
In other words, only those flown during military parades could be deemed authentic.
Miles Li, 21 Sep 1998

The Soviet Air Force Flag is illustrated in both The Flag Book by Preben Kannik, 1957 [kan57a], page 63, and “Flags of the World” by Gilbert Grosvenor and William Showalter, National Geographic Magazine, September 1934 [gsh34], page 394. In both illustrations there is a black and white set of wings above the propellor. The wings are partly in the bottom of the disk and partly outside it; the propellor is outside the disk. In both Kannik and National Geographic there is one ray reaching each corner, three rays at chief and base, and two rays at hoist and fly — thus four blue sectors at chief and base, three at hoist and fly. The central disc was in the Soviet flag slightly above the centre of the flag — according to Kannik and National Geographic… maybe even more than “slightly”… The only difference I could see between the two illustrations is that in Kannik the hammer and sickle is white, while the National Geo. shows it in gold or yellow. Both illustrations show the flag with a gold fringe, on the fly end only
Ned Smith, 28 May 1999

from Flaggenbuch 1939

Soviet Air Force flag
image by Jaume Ollé, 27 Jul 1999

From Flaggenbuch [neu39].
Jaume Ollé, 27 Jul 1999

from Pedersen 1970 and others

Soviet Air Force flag
image by Steve Stringfellow, 24 Jul 1999

From C. F. Pedersen’s Flags of the World in Colour, 1970 Flaggenbuch [ped70].
Steve Stringfellow, 24 Jul 1999

The Soviet AF flag image of this NGM booklet [gsh34] is a fairly faithful reproduction, I would say, except that the rays should be roughly as wide as the blue “strips”.
Miles Li, 12 Sep 1998

In Vlaggen, Standaarden en Wapens, by Preben Kannik [kan5X], the image differs slightly from the one at National Geographic [gsh34] — the propellor is relatively longer.
Jarig Bakker, 23 Jul 1999


Earlier version

older Soviet Air Force flag
image by Jaume Ollé, 27 Jul 1999

In 1924, the Soviet Union adopted for its Air Force a a design similar to the earlier flag of the Aeronautic Section of the Imperial Russian Navy.
Dave Martucci, 24 Nov 1999


RSFSR Balloon Unit

RSFSR Balloon unit
image by Viktor Lomantsov, 9 Feb 2010

Russian Civil War Flag for Balloonist Regiment

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=180466739050&ssPageName=ADME:B:EF:US:1123 [dead link]

Russian balloonist flag for only brigade of Communist forces balloonists during their Civil War 45" by 27"
William Garrison, 7 Feb 2010


Fuselage Marking

Soviet Air Force roundel
image by Zachary Harden, 18 Dec 2005

Anything below this line was not added by the editor of this page.