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The Royal Air Force (RAF) introduced officer ranks in 1919. Prior to this, Army ranks were used.
Interestingly, many ranks within the Royal Air Force do not correspond with the actual duties of an officer. For example, a pilot officer may not be trained to pilot an aircraft.
The ranking for pilots actually starts at cadet officer and is then upgraded to flying officer on graduation.
Commissioned ranks within the RAF wear rank insignia on the lower arm of their dress uniform.
There are many ranks which exist across all three forces: Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army. Of the three, the Royal Air Force rank will most always be the junior – the Royal Navy has seniority over the Army and the RAF.
The commissioned ranks for the Royal Air Force are shown here.
Rank insignia, which was to be worn on the jacket cuff, was established for the force in 1918. The ranking insignia has similarities to the Royal Navy rings. In 1919 the colour of the rank braid changed to black with a central pale blue stripe. The RAF mess dress, however, continued to be gold.
Non-Commissioned aircrew rank insignia is worn on the upper arm of dress uniform, apart from the Master Aircrew who wear their badges on the lower arm.
Non-Commissioned other ranks are shown below. Most of these ranks, apart from, Warrant Officer and Master Aircrew, are worn on the upper arm.
We stock many of the rank insignia for the Royal Air Force. You can view them here.