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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Air marshal
An RAF air marshal's command flag
United Kingdom-Air force-OF-8-collected.svg
Shoulder and sleeve insignia from the Royal Air Force
Air Marshal star plate.svg
An RAF air marshal's star plate
Service branchAir forces
AbbreviationAir Mshl / AM
NATO rank codeOF-8
Non-NATO rankO-9
Formation1 August 1919 (1919-08-01) (RAF)
Next higher rankAir chief marshal
Next lower rankAir vice-marshal
Equivalent ranks

Air marshal (Air Mshl or AM) is a three-star[1] air-officer rank which originated in and is used by the Royal Air Force.[2] The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence, including the Commonwealth, and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure.

Air marshal is a three-star rank and has a NATO ranking code of OF-8, equivalent to a vice-admiral in the Royal Navy or a lieutenant-general in the British Army or the Royal Marines. In other NATO forces, such as the United States Armed Forces and the Canadian Armed Forces, the equivalent three-star rank is lieutenant general.

The rank of air marshal is immediately senior to the rank of air vice-marshal and immediately subordinate to the rank of air chief marshal. Officers in the rank of air marshal typically hold very senior appointments such as commander-in-chief of an air force or a large air force formation. Officers in the ranks of air chief marshal and air vice-marshal are also referred to generically as air marshals.[3] Occasionally, air force officers of marshal rank are considered to be air marshals.

Royal Air Force use and history


Prior to the adoption of RAF-specific rank titles in 1919, it was suggested that the RAF might use the Royal Navy's officer ranks, with the word "air" inserted before the naval rank title. For example, the rank that later became air marshal would have been air vice-admiral. The Admiralty objected to any use of their rank titles, including this modified form, and so an alternative proposal was put forward: air-officer ranks would be based on the term "ardian", which was derived from a combination of the Gaelic words for "chief" (ard) and "bird" (eun), with the term "second ardian" or "wing ardian" being used specifically for the rank equivalent to a vice-admiral and lieutenant-general. However, air marshal was preferred and has been used since its adoption in August 1919.[4] Sir Hugh Trenchard, the incumbent Chief of the Air Staff when the rank was introduced, became the first air marshal on 11 August 1919.[5][6]

RAF insignia, command flag and star plate

The rank insignia consists of two narrow light blue bands (each on a slightly wider black band) over a light blue band on a broad black band. This is worn on the lower sleeves of the dress uniform or on shoulders of the flying suit or working uniform.

The command flag for an air marshal is defined by the single broad red band running in the centre of the flag.

The vehicle star plate for an air marshal depicts three white stars (air marshal is equivalent to a three-star rank) on an air force blue background.

Other air forces

The rank of air marshal is also used in a number of the air forces in the Commonwealth, including the Bangladesh Air Force,[7] Indian Air Force,[8] Pakistan Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force. It is also used in the Nigerian Air Force, Ghana Air Force, Air Force of Zimbabwe[9] (including its predecessor, the Rhodesian Air Force) and the Royal Thai Air Force. In the Indonesian Air Force, the equivalent rank is marsekal madya (literally "vice marshal") which is often translated as air marshal in English; similarly, the rank of فريق (fariq) in the Egyptian Air Force is commonly translated as "air marshal", although the Arabic-language names of officer ranks are the same across all of Egypt's military and paramilitary forces.

The Brazilian Air Force does not use air marshal ranks as an equivalent to general ranks, rather it uses a number of ranks based on the word brigadier. However, its highest rank is marechal-do-ar, the equivalent to a Brazilian Army marshal. Marechal-do-ar can be translated as air marshal or marshal of the air. Similarly, the Royal Malaysian Air Force's five-star rank of marshal udara translates as air marshal.

Hellenic Air Force

A Hellenic Air Force air marshal's rank insignia
A Hellenic Air Force air marshal's rank insignia

The rank of air marshal (Greek: Αντιπτέραρχος, romanizedAntipterarchos) is the highest regular rank of the Hellenic Air Force, being typically held by at least the Chief of the Hellenic Air Force General Staff (HAFGS) and the Chief of the Hellenic Tactical Air Force Command. The higher rank of air chief marshal is given only to Air Force officers appointed as Chiefs of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, as well as to a retiring Chief of the HAFGS. The rank insignia of a Greek air marshal is similar to the RAF insignia of the same rank.

Indian Air Force

An IAF Air Marshal's rank insignia
An IAF Air Marshal's rank insignia

The rank of air marshal was the highest in the Indian Air Force (IAF), held by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), from 1947 to 1966. In 1966, the rank of CAS was upgraded to air chief marshal and ACM Arjan Singh became the first CAS to hold the four-star rank.

Namibian Air Force

A Namibian Air Force air marshal rank insignia
A Namibian Air Force air marshal rank insignia

The Namibian Air Force adopted the RAF rank system in 2010 previously having been using army ranks and insignia. However the rank of air marshal was not used until 1 April 2020 when Martin Pinehas was promoted to that rank and appointed as Chief of the Namibian Defence Force.[10]

Royal Australian Air Force

An RAAF air marshal's rank insignia
An RAAF air marshal's rank insignia

The Australian Air Corps adopted the RAF rank system on 9 November 1920[11] and this usage was continued by its successor, the Royal Australian Air Force. However, the rank of air marshal was not used by the Australian Armed Forces until 1940 when Richard Williams, an RAAF officer, was promoted.[12]

In Australia, there are four appointments available for air marshals: the Chief of Air Force and, at times when they are occupied by an air force officer, the Vice Chief of Defence Force, the Chief of Joint Operations, and the Chief of Capability Development Group.

Royal New Zealand Air Force

An RNZAF air marshal's rank insignia
An RNZAF air marshal's rank insignia

In New Zealand, the head of the air force holds the lower rank of air vice-marshal. However, when an air force officer holds the country's senior military appointment, Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force, he is granted the rank of air marshal. The current Chief of Defence Force is an RNZAF officer, Air Marshal Kevin Short.

Other officers to hold the air marshal rank in New Zealand are:

Royal Canadian Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) used the rank until the 1968 unification of the Canadian Forces, when army-type rank titles were adopted and an air marshal became a lieutenant-general. In official French Canadian usage, the rank title was maréchal de l'air. The Canadian Chief of the Air Staff ordinarily held the rank of air marshal. The following RCAF officers held the rank (dates in rank in parentheses):

Pakistan Air Force


See also


  1. ^ "Glossary". Air of Authority. Archived from the original on 13 April 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  2. ^ "Ranks and Badges of the Royal Air Force". Royal Air Force. 2007. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007.
  3. ^ "Forms of Address: Air Chief Marshal, Air Marshal and Air Vice-Marshal". Debrett's. Archived from the original on 19 November 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  4. ^ Hobart, Malcolm C (2000). Badges and Uniforms of the Royal Air Force. Leo Cooper. p. 26. ISBN 0-85052-739-2.
  5. ^ "Marshal of the RAF The Viscount Trenchard of Wolfeton". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. 24 July 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  6. ^ Probert, Henry (1991). "The Viscount Trenchard". High Commanders of the Royal Air Force. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 9780117726352.
  7. ^ "BAF RANKS". Bangladesh Air Force Website. BAF Communication Unit. 2020. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  8. ^ "Officer ranks in Indian Army, Air Force and Navy". India Today. New Delhi. 25 February 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  9. ^ "RANKS AND BADGES IN THE AFZ". Air Force of Zimbabwe Website. Air Force of Zimbabwe. 2020. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  10. ^ "Geingob appoints Pinehas as CDF".
  11. ^ Gillison, Douglas Napier (1962). "Chapter 1: Formation of the Royal Australian Air Force" (digitised book). Royal Australian Air Force, 1939–1942 (1st ed.). Australian War Memorial. pp. 5–6.
  12. ^ Gillison, Douglas Napier (1962). "Chapter 5: The New Command" (digitised book). Royal Australian Air Force, 1939–1942 (1st ed.). Australian War Memorial. pp. 92–93.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 February 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links

This page was last edited on 21 June 2022, at 17:52
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