Air Force Ensign

Royal Australian Air Force Ensign

The Royal Australian Air Force Ensign was approved in its current form by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1981 and proclaimed an Australian Flag by His Excellency the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1982. This effectively made the Ensign the Battle Ensign of the RAAF. Accordingly, the Ensign is always to be treated with the dignity and respect befitting the proud history of the RAAF.

The following conditions apply to the use of the Ensign:

  • The Ensign is normally for display purposes but may be paraded when accompanied by a member of the Australian Defence Force
  • The Ensign should be prevented from touching the ground at all times
  • If not flown on a mast, the Ensign should preferably be attached to a staff approx. 2.6m in length, thereby allowing the Ensign to hang properly
  • The Ensign is not to be used for decorative purposes on walls, tables, and platforms or in any similar manner
  • When displayed with other flags the Ensign must be placed in the proper order of precedence, and raised and lowered in order of precedence
  • If flown on a flagpole, the Ensign is to be placed at half-mast on ANZAC Day until noon and on Remembrance Day from 1030 hours until 1103 hours
  • The Ensign is not normally flown at half-mast on State occasions unless placed in close proximity to other national or Service flags
  • The Ensign should be lowered at sunset each day unless illuminated with suitable flood lighting

History of the RAAF Ensign

With the formation of the Royal Australian Air Force on 31 March 1921, as the successor to the Australian Flying Corps which had been established by the Australian Army in 1913, it was decided to have an Ensign which could reflect the national identity of our military aircraft and would include a distinctive roundel. However, while a specific RAAF Ensign was formally approved by Air Board and the then Minister for Defence on 10 August 1921, it was not processed for Royal approval. Consequently,  the RAF Ensign was adopted without change by the RAAF and was flown until 1948.

The RAF Ensign is a light blue (Air Force Blue) British Ensign emblazoned with a large RAF Roundel. This Roundel consists of concentric circles of red, white and dark blue. The blue represented the Royal Navy Air Service and the red the Army's Royal Flying Corps, which merged to form the RAF in 1918.

In 1948 it was decided to have an Ensign that would better reflect an Australian identity. Consequently the Southern Cross and the Commonwealth Star were added and the Roundel, although retained, was reduced in size. This design was granted Royal approval in October 1948.

From 1948 to 1982 the RAAF flew the RAAF Ensign (without the Red Kangaroo). This was a light-blue ensign with a Roundel in the lower fly and the Southern Cross on the fly. During the Vietnam War, the RAAF removed the British Roundel on its aircraft and replaced the central red circle of the British roundel with a leaping red kangaroo to create a new Australian Roundel. However, the Air Force Ensign with its British Roundel was not altered until 1982.

On 6 May 1982, the current RAAF Ensign received Royal approval. The only change in design was the replacement of the RAF Roundel with the RAAF Roundel, which has a red kangaroo in motion at its centre.

A proclamation was made by the Governor-General on 6 May 1982 recognising the ensign (described in the Schedule) under section 5 of the Flags Act 1953 as the ensign of the Royal Australian Air Force and to be known as the Royal Australian Air Force Ensign.

Use and purchase

The use and purchase of the RAAF Ensign is restricted. It is an Australian Defence Force requirement that all prospective purchasers have written permission from the RAAF in the first instance.

Only service-related organisations are eligible to apply for an Ensign. The Ensign is not available to individuals or small businesses.

To obtain permission please send a written application, with your contact details, to the following address:

Air Force Headquarters
Staff Officer Heraldry and Badges
R1-6-C001
Russell Offices
Canberra
ACT 2600