RAF other ranks

RAF other ranks

The term used in the Royal Air Force to refer to all ranks below commissioned officer level is Other Ranks (ORs). It includes Warrant Officers, non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and airmen.


Upon the formation of the Royal Air Force in 1918, rank titles and badges for ORs were adopted from the British Army, specifically the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The RFC ranks of Warrant Officer Class I, Warrant Officer Class II, Flight Sergeant, Sergeant and Corporal were directly adopted, although the four-bladed propeller above the Sergeants' and Flight Sergeants' chevrons was dropped. The double-bladed propeller used as the badge of rank for an RFC Air Mechanic 1st Class was introduced as the trade classification badge for Leading Aircraftman. The rank of Aircraftman replaced the RFC rank of Air Mechanic 2nd Class.

Changes in 1939 - Warrant Officers

In 1939, the ranks of Warrant Officer Class I and Warrant Officer Class II were combined as a single rank, Warrant Officer. RAF warrant officers were given equivalent status to the continuing Army rank of Warrant Officer Class I.

Changes in 1946 - Aircrew

On 1 July 1946, NCOs serving as aircrew were assigned different rank badges which distinguished them from ORs in ground trades. The new ranks were:

Changes in 1950 - Technicians and Aircrew

In 1950, a new grading system for technicians was introduced. This involved the creation of the following ranks:
*Master Technician (for Warrant Officers in technical trades)
*Chief Technician (for Flight Sergeants in technical trades) with three inverted chevrons surmounted by a crown
*Senior Technician (for Sergeants in technical trades) with three inverted chevrons
*Corporal Technician (for Corporals in technical trades) with two inverted chevrons
*Junior Technician with one inverted chevron

Also in 1950, the unpopular NCO aircrew ranks were abolished, although Master Aircrew was retained as a rank. Aircrew I became Flight Sergeant Aircrew and Aircrew II, III and IV became Sergeant Aircrew. Both new ranks adopted a gold eagle above the cheverons to permit continuing distinction from ground trades. Aircrew Cadets wore the eagle on its own.

Changes in 1951 - Junior Ranks

On 1 January 1951, two junior ranks were introduced:
*Senior Aircraftman (or Senior Aircraftwoman) with a triple-bladed propeller.
*Leading Aircraftman (or Leading Aircraftwoman) with a double-bladed propeller (this had previously been only a trade classification and not a rank)

Changes in 1964 - Technicians

In 1964, the technician ranks were abolished, with the exception of Junior Technician and Chief Technician, the latter becoming an intermediate rank between Sergeant and Flight Sergeant for Technical Trades. Junior Technicians adopted the four-bladed propeller as their badge of rank and Chief Technicians adopted a treble cheveron surmounted by a four-bladed propeller as their rank insignia. Master Technicians, Senior Technicians and Corporal Technicians all reverted to their former ranks of Warrant Officer, Sergeant and Corporal respectively. The ORs structure became:
*Warrant Officer / Master Aircrew
*Flight Sergeant / Flight Sergeant Aircrew
*Chief Technician
*Sergeant / Sergeant Aircrew
*Junior Technician
*Senior Aircraftman (or Senior Aircraftwoman)
*Leading Aircraftman (or Leading Aircraftwoman)
*Aircraftman (or Aircraftwoman)

Changes in 2005 - Phasing out of Junior Technician

From 2005 no more airmen have been promoted to Junior Technician. Although there are currently personnel in the rank of Junior Technician, once they have all been promoted or discharged from the RAF, the rank will cease to be used. Also from 2005, Senior Aircraftmen in technical trades who had attained the Operational Performance Standard were given a new badge of rank, consisting of the three-bladed propeller inside a circle (SAC-T's). This new rank insignia was introduced, at least in part, to distinguish airmen trained to work unsupervised from those who were not, although in practice under the old rank structure long serving and competent SAC's would often carry out some of the technical duties that were designated as JT duties, this was mainly due to the large numbers of SAC's waiting for fitters course to enable promotion to JT.

ee also

*RAF officer ranks
*Ranks and insignia of NATO Air Forces Enlisted
*Comparative military ranks of World War I
*Comparative military ranks of World War II
*Comparative military ranks
*Military rank
*Royal Air Force

External links

* [http://www.raf.mod.uk/organisation/noncommissioned.cfm Enlisted Ranks and Badges of the RAF]

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