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Canada, Air Force Ensign

Last modified: 2006-09-30 by phil nelson
Keywords: canada | air force ensign | maple leaf | leaf: maple |
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Air Force Ensign

[Canadian Air Force ensign]
by Graham Bartram

I made an image of the Canadian Air Command Ensign some time ago, basing it on an image from the Air Command website. It wasn't a very good picture--kind of a logo, really--but it appeared that the roundel was smaller and placed in the lower fly of the ensign. Has the ensign been modified recently?
Tom Gregg - 16 August 1999

I took the dimensions for my image from an actual Canadian Air Command flag I saw flying at Canada's Pacific base "Esquimalt". Canada's military symbols are going through a semi-reversion to pre-unification symbols. I believe the Air Force flag is an example of this.
Graham Bartram - 16 August 1999

[Canada - Air Force Ensign]
by Tom Gregg

The Canadian Air Force (officially titled Air Command, Canadian Armed Forces, by the way) has a distinctive ensign based on that of the British Royal Air Force, i.e. light blue with the Canadian flag as a canton and the air-force roundel in the fly.

I based my image on a couple of images found on the Air Command web site. It wasn't possible to determine proportions from these logo-type pictures, but surely they are 1:2 as for the national flag and the armed forces ensign. Another point of which I couldn't make quite sure was the position of the roundel. However, it looked as though it is horizontally centered between the canton and the fly end and vertically offset toward the bottom, so that's the way I made it.
Tom Gregg - 27 March 1997

[Canada - Air Force Ensign]
by Miles Li

One of our members recently perused your homepage and asked me to bring to your attention that the RCAF Ensign no longer exists. In 1972, the RCAF Association petitioned Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, through Government House, to decree that the Ensign, (declared "obsolete" by DND's Director of Ceremonial) should become a "living symbol" for the Association. In September, 1973 our Association was formally advised that by Royal decree, the Ensign was ours, and would henceforth be known as the "Association Ensign." It was "suggested" by DND at the time that the Association alter the Maple Leaf to match the one in the 1965 Maple Leaf flag.

As you may know, our Association changed its name to Air Force Association of Canada in 1994, and on January 1, 1997 the Ensign was officially trade-marked under Section 9 of the Canada Trade Marks Act, to be known as the Air Force Association Ensign. This information is detailed on our Association's homepage at No doubt you know that in 1984, an Air Command "flag" was authorized by DND. Basically, it looks like the Ensign with the Canadian flag replacing the Union Jack. I'm not sure if that "flag" still exists, as Air Command no longer exists.
Bob Tracy, 05 March 2000
Executive Director, Air Force Association of Canada

Eighty Years Ago- a Flag
By MWO Normand Marion, 16 Wing

On Friday November 30th ...[2001], senior staff at 16 Wing Headquarters took a few moments to commemorate a highly symbolic event that took place eighty years ago in front of the Wing Headquarters at Camp Borden.

On that date in 1921, the Royal Air Force (RAF) Ensign was hoisted for the first time in Canada, as officers and airmen of the newly formed Canadian Air Force (CAF) were asked to salute "their new flag".

At the time, the ceremony was an attempt to establish the Air Force' unique identity as a separate service from the Army and the Navy, and to reinforce its links to the RAF. Although it had been proposed that a maple leaf be included on the flag to single out the Canadian version, the suggestion was rejected on the basis that both Air Forces' flags should be identical in order to retain "the sentiment of unity between the Air Forces of the Empire."

A group of senior officers of the CAF were present, as Air Vice-Marshal Gwatkin, member of the Air Board and at the same time Inspector-General of the CAF, had requested that the ceremony be made "as pompous as possible". For some reason, no representative from the Army or the Navy were present, and neither was the Minister of Militia and Defence, even though invitations had been sent.

The RAF Ensign continued to be flown in Canada as the Canadian Air Force Ensign from 1921 to 1924, and subsequently as the Royal Canadian Air Force Ensign until the Second World War. In 1941, a maple leaf was added inside the roundel and this new RCAF Ensign was flown until the RCAF was disbanded in 1968.

Finally, in 1985, the Canadian flag replaced the Union Jack in the corner of the Ensign and gave birth to a new Air Command Ensign, which is still flown today by Air Force elements of the Canadian Forces.

Mark Sensen, 21 April 2003

Canadian Air Command flag



[Air force roundel]
by Pierre Gay

The Canadian Aviation Corps was formed on September 16, 1914 later to become RCAF
(see history page at
- or flag page)

Until 1946 the RCAF used the RAF insignia

Military Aircraft Insignia of the World shows 5 roundels for RCAF since 1946. Two more are added for the Canadian Armed Forces - Air wing in other sources.

In 1946 the RCAF adopted a separate roundel by changing the red ball in RAF type B with maple leaf (and with Type C fin flash)

This combination was not distinctive enough and in 1947 a white background added (still with type C fin flash).

Note the Military Aircraft Insignia of the World shows the maple leaf as today, while the site show both two versions with the design of maple leaf different from the currunt one.

According to Military Aircraft Insignia of the World, in 1958 the fin flash was changed to the former Canadian flag.

Two roundels were used by Canadian Armed Forces before it was united into RCAF in 1969 to be the new Air Command.

  • A roundel based on RAF type A with maple leaf
  • All red roundel

Since both shows the standard maple leaf and not the post WWII RCAF version, I guess that those were used after 1964.

In 1965, the RCAF adopted a new standard roundel based on the maple leaf design as in the national flag, and the new national flag as fin flash.

The only change afterwards (except the 1997 change in structure) was the adoption of a low visibility marking in 1988.
Dov Gutterman, 13 June 2004