This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Indian Air Force Flags

Last modified: 2011-07-08 by ian macdonald
Keywords: india | military | air force | fin flash | elephant (yellow) |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors




See also:

Air force ensign

[Air Force Ensign of India] by Joe McMillan

The air force ensign of India is influenced by the Royal Air Force ensign with the national flag and roundel of the United Kingdom being substituted for that of India.
Calvin Paige Herring, 2 December 1997

Photographs in the Indian Air Force publication Sentinels of the Sky: Glimpses of the Indian Air Force (New Delhi: Ritana Books, 1999) confirm the 1:2 ratio. The book shows this flag flying over several headquarters buildings, in each case hoisted at a gaff mounted on the pole with a rank flag at the truck of the pole.  Source: Das (1981)
Joe McMillan, 26 January 2003

President's Colour of the Indian Air Force

[President's Colour of the Indian Air Force]    [President's Colour of the Indian Air Force] by Joe McMillan

Indian military organizations are presented President's Colours as a mark of distinction for meritorious service. The President's Colour of the Air Force as described and depicted in Das (1981) is similar to the Indian Air Force ensign, but 36 x 48 inches and with the Indian Air Force roundel in the upper fly and the Ajanti elephant from the (former?) Presidential standard embroidered in gold in the lower fly. (This elephant is the common element in all President's colours in the Indian armed forces.) However, Sentinels of the Sky shows on page 30 a color photograph of the presentation of the first President's Colour on 1 April 1954, showing the elephant slightly above the middle of the fly and the roundel in the lower fly corner. It could be that the design was changed between 1954 and 1988 when a subsequent colour was presented, or it could be that Das is in error.

The President's Colour of the Indian Air Force is trimmed with gold fringe and a gold cord and tassels and mounted on a staff with a gilt finial in the form of the Ashoka lions, the state emblem of the republic.
Joe McMillan, 26 January 2003

The award of President's colours/standard is one of the greatest honours bestowed upon any Indian Air Force Unit or Squadron in recognition of exceptional service rendered by it to the nation, both during war and in peace. The following is a list of units presented with the standards till date, including the date of presentation and the location where they got their colours (List of total 46 Units/Squadrons here: http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Heraldry/Flags/368-Colors.html). More information about the colours at http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Heraldry/Flags/367-Rank.html.
Esteban Rivera, 20 March 2010


Rank Flags

Marshal

[Marshal] by Joe McMillan, based on graphic by Harold Lubick

This flag is an addition to those shown by Das (1981) as the Marshal of the Indian Air Force is a five-star rank while Air Marshal is three-star. As far as I know, no one has ever been promoted to Marshal.
Joe McMillan, 14 December 2004


According to Das (1981), in 1968 the following rank flags replaced a series modeled after those used by the British RAF.

Chief of Air Staff/Air Chief Marshal

[Chief of Air Staff/Air Chief Marshal] by Joe McMillan

As described in Das (1981), sky blue with the national flag in the canton, the roundel in lower fly, and the Indian Air Force badge in upper fly. I've worked from the badge depicted in Sentinels of the Sky; Das's image is very small but looks as if the ring around the eagle is actually replaced by a wreath. Nevertheless, I've followed his description since the drawing is too small to tell for sure. The Chief of Air Staff is the head of the Indian Air Force; Air Chief Marshal is the rank equivalent to full general in the army. As I recall the Chief of Air Staff is the only Air Chief Marshal in the Indian Air Force.
Joe McMillan, 26 January 2003

I have inspected the actual flag of the Marshal of the Indian Air Force. The Marshal of the Indian Air Force flag has a medium (Air Force) blue field with the Air Force arms embroidered in the center in yellow and other colored silk threads, and in a vertical line on the fly edge of the flag are embroidered in yellow silk threads, five five-pointed stars. The reverse side is an embroidered mirror image. This must certainly be the rarest of all Indian military flags, since only one person has ever been appointed to this exalted position. There have been two Army Field Marshals.

The other Air Force flags are variations of the Marshal flag as described, only have a diminishing number of stars, one through four. The designs [displayed below] are obsolete.
Dr. Harold Lubick, 9 August 2004, 18 August 2004

Air Marshal

[Air Marshal] by Joe McMillan

From Das (1981), sky blue with the roundel in the center surmounted by the eagle from the Indian Air Force badge, with three yellow stars in a vertical line in the fly. Air Marshal is equivalent to lieutenant general.
Joe McMillan, 26 January 2003

Air Vice Marshal

[Air Vice Marshal] by Joe McMillan

Equivalent to an army major general; flies a flag similar to that of an air marshal: sky blue with the Indian Air Force roundel surmounted by the eagle from the Indian Air Force badge, but with two instead of three yellow stars in the fly.
Joe McMillan, 26 January 2003

Air Commodore

[Air Commodore] by Joe McMillan

Equivalent to a brigadier; same flag but with one yellow star in the fly.
Joe McMillan, 26 January 2003

An air commodore arriving at the Beating Retreat ceremony on 29 January (2006) I was participating in flew this flag, but with the roundel and eagle badge and the stars smaller.
Joe McMillan, 2 February 2006

Group Captain

[Group Captain] by Joe McMillan

Equivalent to a colonel; sky blue triangular pennant with the roundel surmounted by the eagle.
Joe McMillan, 26 January 2003

Wing Commander

[Wing Commander] by Joe McMillan

Equivalent to a lieutenant colonel; sky blue triangular pennant with the roundel (no eagle).
Joe McMillan, 26 January 2003

Squadron standards

Indian Air Force operational squadrons may carry squadron standards (sometimes called colours), which are sky blue, 32 x 48 inches (about 81 x 122 cm). They have the squadron badge in the center flanked by eight scrolls for inscribing battle honors. The edges of the flag are embroidered with lotus flowers and ashoka leaves in gold. The standard is trimmed with gold fringe. I have a photograph of the standard of No. 1 Squadron and will eventually be preparing an image of it.
Joe McMillan, 26 January 2003


Rank Flags (former series)

The former rank flags of the Indian Air Force, as shown in Flags of All Nations (HMSO, 1958), are simply those of the British RAF rank flag in different colours.
Miles Li, 28 January 2003

Air Marshal

[Air Marshal] image by Miles Li, 8 August 2009

Air Vice Marshal

[Air Vice Marshal] image by Miles Li, 8 August 2009

Air Commodore

[Air Commodore]  image by Miles Li, 8 August 2009

Group Captain

[Group Captain]  image by Miles Li, 8 August 2009

Wing Commander

[Wing Commander] image by Miles Li, 8 August 2009

Squadron Leader

[Squadron Leader] image by Miles Li, 8 August 2009


Air Force Fin Flash (1948-)

[IAF fin flash 1948-] by Željko Heimer

The Indian Air Force uses a vertical national colors as fin flash. Between 1947-1948 in 1:1 version and from 1948 onward in 2:3 version.
Dov Gutterman, 8 Feb 2000

Rectangular green-white-saffron vertically divided, green at front. The figure in Album des Pavillons (2000) does not look as the tricolour is of equal widths of stripes, but Cochrane and Elliott (1998) has is so.
Željko Heimer, 11 November 2001

Bharatiya Vayu Sena homepage is at http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/ with roundel page at http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Info/Badges/Roundels.html
Dov Gutterman, 17 June 2004

Roundel

[IAF roundel] by Eugene Ipavec, 4 April 2006

The roundel of the Indian Air Force is shown at http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Museum/Roundel-1950.jpg
Vinod Doddamani, 31 July 2003

In some sites I see what appears to be a roughly 1:1:1:1:1 relation of inner circle to outer rings ratio, i.e., inner circle dimension = 1 with inner and outer ring widths = inner circle dimension. In other images I see what appears to be a 1:1:2:1:1. Do we know which is correct?
Dennis Soultaire, 18 February 2008


1947-1948 Fin Flash

[IAF Fin Flash 1947-48] by Dov Gutterman

[Detail of Chakra] by Željko Heimer based on Album des Pavillons (2000)

The Ashoka Chakra was also an early Indian Air Force marking, according to Cochrane and Elliott (1998) in the period 1947-48, and was used together with the fin flash using a square(ish) vertical tricolour of orange-white-green (orange to front).
Željko Heimer, 11 November 2001


1945-1947 Air Force Ensign

[1943-47 Ensign] by Marcus Schmöger

India under British rule had a distinct air force ensign as well. The roundel was put on the "Star of India".
Source: Fachinger (1974)
Marcus Schmöger, 9 November 2001

The roundel is not superimposed on the "Star of India" as used on the Union Jack and Blue Ensign. That "star" is an emblem from a British order of chivalry, The
Most Exalted Order of the Star of India. This star (unknown to me) is quite different.

Indian Air Force units were first formed in 1933 but under the operational control of the Royal Air Force. I guess that this ensign was possibly not introduced until March 1945 when the Indian Air Force was given the prefix "Royal", and used only until July 1947 when India became independent.
David Prothero, 12 November 2001


1943-45 Roundel and Fin Flash

[1943-45 Roundel] by Željko Heimer

[1943-45 Fin Flash] by Željko Heimer

Cochrane and Elliott (1998) also mentions 1943-45 roundels and fin markings being in two shades of blue.
Željko Heimer, 9 November 2001