National Markings
Royal Canadian Air Force

This section describes and illustrates the insignia used by the Royal Canadian Air Force/Canadian Armed Forces Air Command since its formation:


  
Main MarkingFin Flash

1920-1946
Right through until the end of World War 2, Canadian military aircraft markings followed the practice of the Royal Air Force. The standard Type A blue/white/red roundel was displayed in the standard six positions, plus a red/white/blue fin flash or rudder stripes – with red leading. Type B and Type C roundels were widely used in World War 2, with no white ring and a thinner white ring respectively. No service titles were carried.


  
Main MarkingFin Flash

19 January 1946-1947
In the post-war period, a uniquely Canadian national marking was introduced for the first time. This consisted of a blue disk with a Canadian maple leaf in red in the centre. The fin flash remained the Type C version with a thin white central stripe. The service title ‘ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE’ was displayed on the fuselage sides of transport aircraft.


  
Main MarkingFin Flash

1947-1958
In 1947 an inner white background disk was added to the roundel, to enhance the contrast with the maple leaf. The fin flash and service titles remained as before. (When first introduced, some aircraft carried a roundel that featured a ‘small’ leaf with plenty of space between the leaf and the blue ring, but this was soon standardised with a bigger leaf, as illustrated).


  
Main MarkingFin Flash

1958-1965
In 1958 the then current Canadian national flag replaced the RAF-style fin flash. This flag was basically red with a Union flag in the top left corner and the Canadian shield to the right. The roundels were unchanged.


  
Main MarkingFin Flash

1965-present
In 1965 the present Canadian national flag was adopted, red and white with a maple leaf in the centre. Aircraft fin flashes soon switched to this new version. At the same time the roundel was updated to replace the ‘spiky’ maple leaf with the more stylised version used in the national flag.

A number of variations in services titles have been used in this period. The original ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE was replaced by CANADIAN ARMED FORCES in 1968 The introduction of the Official Languages Act in 1969, which gave French equal status, meant all service titles had to be presented in both English and French: ARMED FORCES / FORCES ARMEES. Furthermore, in 1980 the Canada Wordmark was introduced, and this saw the official Canadian federal government ‘Canada’ logo appear on all CAF aircraft. Since the reversion to the traditional name of Royal Canadian Air Force (Aviation Royale Canadienne in French) in 2011, the title ‘RCAF – ARC’ has been added to service aircraft.



  
Main MarkingFin Flash

1967 variation
1967 marked the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. As part of the celebrations selected aircraft were marked with an all-red version of the roundel, to more closely replicat ethe national flag. These markings reverted to the standard form at the end of the year.


  
Main MarkingFin Flash

Low Viz
Since the 1980s, a low visibility version of the national markings has been widely used. The most common version on light grey aircraft (e.g. CF-188 Hornet) is for the markings to appear in a darker grey, with the background colour showing through where white would normally be seen. On darker grey aircraft (E.g. CP-140 Aurora) the markings are presented in a lighter grey than the background, although on some helicopters the markings appear to be in black. Service titles appear in the same colour as the roundels.

An early version of low visibility markings was carried by CF-104 Starfighters and CF-116 Freedom Fighters operating in Europe in the late 1970s, whereby the white portion of the standard blue/white/red roundel was replaced by the background camouflage colour. The same substitution was applied to the fin flash.

Further Information:
Roundel Round-up

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