Part of the old colony of French Indo-China, Cambodia became independent within the French Union in 1949, and fully independent in 1955, The Royal Khmer Aviation was established in 1954. The first markings consisted of the three towers of the temple at the Angkor in white on a red disc with a blue border. Fin markings, when applied, were blue over red over blue, with the temple illustration on the red.
In 1970, when the United States began to help Cambodia as part of its involvement in the war in Vietnam, a new insignia was designed, a blue disc with the top left quarter in red. This red area carried a representation of the three tower temple in white. Three small white stars appeared on the top right area of the disc. Either side of the main disc were two bars in U.S. Air Force style, that is white with a blue border and central red stripe. When the Khmer Rouge took over the country in 1975 markings were changed again to a red star with a yellow temple. The invasion by Vietnam in 1979 virtually destroyed the air force and the Vietnamese set up the People's Republic of Kampuchea. Vietnamese supplied carried a very similar marking to the supplying country, namely a yellow bordered red disc and bars (the fin marking omitted the bars). A five tower temple replaced the yellow Vietnamese star. After the Vietnamese withdrawal in 1989 the country became the State of Cambodia with a new flag and new aircraft markings. These were a red over blue disc bordered in yellow with a yellow temple in the centre. Since 1994 a return has been made to the pre-1970 markings.
Since its formation in 1960 the Cameroon Air Force has carried a roundel and a fin flash or rudder striping in the normal pan-African colours. These are used green in the centre and leading on the fin.
A Canadian Aviation Corps was in operation between July 1914 and February 1915. Aircraft tended to bear the insignia of the local school of aviation. The Canadian Air Force was officially established in 1920, and became the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1924. From 1920 normal Royal Air Force insignia was used. Although a wing and fuselage marking which replaced the red centre spot with a maple leaf was approved in 1940, it was rarely used. Aircraft engaged on active service in Canada still bore the large squadron codes each side of the fuselage markings, but underlined in white. This system was abandoned in 1942. Occasional use of a green maple leaf superimposed on the red centre was never approved. Aircraft that may have come into contact with the hostile Japanese forces in the Pacific area had the central red spot painted out. The red maple leaf centre was officially used from 19 January 1946. Initially this was a red leaf on a blue disc, but British style markings were soon adopted, the maple leaf replacing the red centre spot. The navy tended to use the wider blue outer ring, the air force more normal types. The fins bore British fin flashes, with the thin white band, until 1958. Between 1958 and 1965 the then current Canadian flag was used on the fin. The Canadian national flag changed in 1965 and this was reflected on the fins of its military aircraft. From the late 1980s low-visibility markings were introduced. Initially the white area was eliminated, and then the insignia was portrayed in black or varying shades of dark grey.
The few government-owned aircraft of this small ex Portuguese colony are marked with the national flag on the fin. This consists of the pan-African colours, with the national arms on the red. After severing links with Guinea-Bissau a totally new flag was adopted in 1992.
|Central African Republic|
This ex-French colony, also briefly known as the Central African Empire, formed a small air arm in 1960. The roundel and fin flash are based on the national flag and consist of the pan-African colours and the red white and blue of France to symbolise unity with the old colonial power.
Another ex-French colony which formed its air force with gifts of French aircraft in 1960. It has always used a roundel and fin flash of the national colours: red for national spirit and progress, yellow for the sun and for the northern region. In 2008 the roundel was changed to a three colour segment format
The Chilean Military Aviation Service was first established in 1913. It became the Chilean Army Aviation in 1918. The Naval Air Service was founded in 1921 and these air arms were amalgamated to form the Chilean Air Force in 1930.
Up to circa 1920 aircraft were supplied by Great Britain, and as red, white and blue were the Chilean national colours, the standard British roundels were used. In 1921 a new insignia was adopted consisting of a shield split horizontally into blue over red with a white star in the centre. The rudder was painted dark blue and charged with a white star. Some naval aircraft bore a white anchor instead of the white star. From 1929 to about 1930 aircraft used a roundel of red (outer), white and blue with a white star on the blue. Most aircraft continued to display a blue rudder and white star although very occasionally vertical rudder striping of red, forward, blue and white was in use. In 1930 the shield emblem was chosen as the insignia for the newly formed Chilean Air Force. There have been reports of a red and blue roundel with white star but they have to be confirmed. The Chilean army formed its own aviation unit in 1970. The same insignia was used but the rudder was red instead of blue. The navy air arm has used a black anchor on the rudder since its formation in 1954. A toned-down low-visibility marking is currently in use. This is a black outline shield and star.
The history of the markings of Chinese military aircraft is a very confusing one. Until the 1930s there was no central command and independent warlords who were permanently in conflict ruled the country. Well over twenty of these military commands have been identified, and many of them had their own, usually mercenary-flown, aircraft. Many markings of these aircraft await future research. Those for Sinkiang, Kwangsi and Kweichou are illustrated.
The first Chinese military aircraft were based at the flying school in Peking from 1913. These carried a star on the wings and fuselage. Each of the five points was a different colour: red, yellow, blue, white and black. These represented the five main ethnic groups in the country, Han Chinese, Mongol, Manchu, Tibetan, and Muslim. There is some evidence of the use of a roundel and rudder striping in these colours. Sun-Yat-Sen's Kuomintang government set up its own air force in Nanking in 1923. The aircraft used the twelve pointed white star on a blue disc still used in its basic form in Taiwan. Between 1923 and 1927 the roundel normally included an outer red ring. In 1928 the Chinese central government under Chiang Kai-shek formed an air force, but it had no control over large parts of the country. This force adopted the white twelve-pointed star on a blue field. The twelve points stood for the Chinese day of twenty-four hours subdivided into two-hour sections. Various rudder markings were used. Some used the original five colours of 1913, and some marked the twelve-pointed star in a smaller form. By the late 1930s blue and white horizontal stripes were marked on the rudder, or the national flag of a red field with a blue canton charged with the white star was used as a fin flash. The national flag fin flash seems to have been discontinued by the Japanese invasion of 1937. The American Volunteer Group, the 'Flying Tigers', used the blue and white wing marking after 1942. The Chinese air force continued to use this marking until defeated by the Communist People's Army in 1949. The Kuomintang government fled to Formosa. The Chinese National Aviation Company was founded as a civilian airline in 1929. During the war with Japan they were camouflaged and carried a white Chinese ideogram, probably meaning simply 'China', on a blue disc. Although civilian they were used in many clandestine activities between 1937 and 1945. Further details are described under Taiwan.
People's Republic of China
The attempt by Communist forces to seize power in China began in the late 1920s. The first marking, dated 1930, was a simple red star on wings and fin with the name of Lenin on the fuselage in red. The area of Sinkiang in western China was taken over by Mao tse tung's forces in the early 1930s and an aviation school was established with Soviet support. The fuselage of these aircraft was marked with a stylised comet, a six pointed star with a 'tail', in white. Some were also marked with the blue and white government markings. By 1944 the Red Army had captured a number of Japanese aircraft. These were marked with the blue and white twelve pointed star on the fin. The Japanese roundels were inscribed with a Chinese ideogram representing the Communist forces. The following markings were used during the civil war:- The Red Army of China 1946-49- a white disc with red border and open red star with Communist ideogram. The People's Liberation Army Air Force 1945-49 - a red star often with yellow or white border surcharged with the ideogram in white. Up to 1950 a rounded skeletal version of the red star, on a white disc with a red border inscribed with an ideogram representing 1st August 1928, the official founding date of the Red Army was used on wings and fuselage. Rudders were marked with a number of horizontal red and white stripes. After the Communist victory of 1949 a plain red star marked with the 1st August sign in black. Bars of red and white stripes supplemented this. Since 1950 the current insignia of red star, with the ideogram in yellow together with sidebars of yellow bordered red has been in use. From 2010 some aircraft have been seen without the bars.
The Chinese navy established a base at Foochow in about 1916. Presumably any aircraft used normal insignia. From 1927 markings often included a black anchor on the centre of the roundel. There is a possibility of markings in reversed colours to the normal i.e. a blue star on a white disc. In 2007 the Chinese Navy added two yellow stripes to each bar of the normal insignia.
Kwangsi Air Force 1924-37 Normal Chinese roundel with red border. Horizontal blue stripes on rudder with blue or red vertical stripe against the rudder hinge. Later aircraft substituted a black triangle on the fuselage. Shantung Air Force 1925-28, rudder marked with the five colours as from 1913. Wings appear to be marked with a white stripe. Canton Air Force 1933-36, rudder markings similar to Kwangsi. Some aircraft carried normal Chinese insignia but with much smaller white star on usual blue disc. Kweichow Air Force 1933-36, insignia a with red border. Chinese ideogram for Kweichow in black on fuselage. There are at least nine more provincial warlord air forces operating in China in the 1920s and 1930s. Details of their markings are so far unknown.
Many of these warlord controlled air forces joined with the Kuomintang against the Japanese common enemy in 1937. Some however joined the Japanese. The Reformed Government of China 1938-40 were marked with normal Japanese roundels and rudders painted red over yellow over blue. The National Government of China Air Force 1940-45 consisted of pro-Japanese Chinese. They used Chinese roundels with a double red border and various colours of rudder stripes. Probably erroneously this air arm has been referred to as the Cochin China Air Force, but Cochin China was in fact the southern extremity of French Indo-China.
The warlord Chang Tso-Iin ruled Manchuria up until 1928 when his son, Chang Hsueh-Iiang, succeeded him. In the 1920s they survived with a heterogeneous collection of First World War aircraft. By 1930 these aircraft carried markings in the form of a blue disc with a small central twelve-pointed star in white. The rudder was split horizontally, blue over red, with the star on the blue.
Japanese forces occupied Manchuria in 1931, renaming it Manchukuo. A national airline, the MKKK, was established, but the aircraft carried military markings and were often used for military purposes. The markings consisted of a roundel in yellow, black, white, blue and red. The tip of the fin was marked with stripes of the same colours. On some aircraft the yellow was omitted from the roundel or the fin, or both. The Manchukuo Air Force was formed in 1942 and used Japanese-supplied military aircraft carrying wing markings of a yellow disc tipped with red, blue, white and black. The air force was disbanded on 19 August 1945.
The Colombian Air Force was first formed in 1922; the initial roundel was of three colours, red (outer), yellow and blue, or yellow (outer), red and blue. The vertical rudder striping had the yellow forward. This was later changed to a roundel of intricate design based on the same proportions of red, yellow and blue as the national flag, In the centre was superimposed a white nine-pointed star, In 1943, when Colombia declared war on the Axis powers, the roundel was dropped from the fuselage and the American system of marking above the port and below the starboard wings was adopted, as were horizontal rudder stripes, in national flag colours, The current white star marking is five-pointed, This seems to have been introduced in the 1950s, Colombian Navy aircraft mark the standard roundel over a black anchor. Army aircraft have been noted with the army emblem on fuselage, otherwise normal insignia, usually the greyed out low-viz version
This small group of islands in the Indian Ocean became Independent from France in 1975 and formed an air arm the following year. The few aircraft in use bear the national flag of a white crescent with four stars on a green background. The four stars represent the four main islands, even though one of them, Mayotte, voted to stay with France. This flag was changed in 1992 but there is no information on change of insignia.
This Central African country became known as Congo-Brazzaville in order to distinguish it from its much larger neighbour to the east, the Congolese Republic (subsequently renamed Zaire). It gained its independence from France in 1960 and its small air arm used a fin marking of the Congo flag, the pan African colours of red and green split by a yellow diagonal stripe. In 1970 Congo became a Marxist People's Republic. Its flag and air force markings were also changed. The fuselage and wing insignia was a red disc with a yellow border. In the centre of the disc was the national emblem: a green wreath of leaves, a crossed yellow hoe and hammer, and a yellow star. 1990 saw a change back to the Congo Republic, reverting to the original flag. Wing and fuselage markings consist of a roundel in national colours, although the centre spot has been noted in black owing to the unavailability of green paint.
|Congo Democratic Republic|
As the Belgian Congo, aircraft operating in this large central African state carried normal Belgian markings. The country gained its independence as the Congolese Republic in 1960, and with it a new national flag. This was blue split diagonally with a yellow-bordered red stripe. Initially it is believed that the aircraft marking was a blue star on a yellow disc. A small yellow star was later added to the top blue area in 1964. This flag was then used as a fin marking for the Congolese Air Force, while wings and fuselage carried a yellow star on a blue disc with side bars of red with yellow borders.
In 1972 the country changed its name to Zaire. The new national flag was green with a yellow disc bearing an arm carrying a torch. This became the fin marking. A roundel, or roundel and bar version, was used on wings and fuselage.
In 1997 Zaire became the Democratic Republic of Congo, with a new flag. This is blue with a large yellow star, six smaller stars line up along the flag hoist. This has been used as marking until the flag reverted to that of 1960, in 2005. Since 2010 a marking based on the pre-1972 star and bars insignia has been in use with some change to the colours. The yellow star on the blue disc is unchanged but the side bars are orange and the entire marking has a red border.
This breakaway province formed its own air force during its brief period of independence between 1960 and 1962. Fin marking was the national flag of red over white split diagonally with a green stripe. On the white area were three orange crosses. Roundels were red, green and white. The three crosses were often marked on the central white spot. Some later aircraft carried a simple orange cross,although most carried no national insignia.
Although it could be said that Costa Rican military aviation began in 1928, it was 1948 before any real attempt was made to form an air force. This force lasted barely a year and its aircraft were marked with an insignia the reverse of the pre-war U.S. insignia. The air force was revived in 1955 and aircraft were marked with a variant of the national flag. The rudders were striped blue, white, red, white and blue, and an elongated version of the flag was used on the fuselage and wings. Since the 1970s many of these aircraft have used a blue, white and red roundel, very similar to that used by the Royal Air Force. On the blue outer ring is the legend, in white, 'Ministerio de Seguridad Publica Seccion Aerea'.
With the Italian and German attack on Yugoslavia in 1941, the country was split up and Croatia became independent as an Axis supporter. The Croatian Air Force used the ancient red and white chequered shield of Croatia on wings, fuselage and tail fin. Aircraft for the Russian front and the German-commanded Croat Legion used standard German insignia and the legion badge under the cockpit. From late 1944 aircraft carried a version of the German cross -actually the cross of the eleventh-century ruler King Zvonomir - on wings and fuselage, with a red and white shield on the fin. This was surmounted by a 'U' in a frame, representing the Ustachi (Axis-controlled) government.
Croatia was absorbed back into Yugoslavia in 1945, but became independent again in 1991. The new Croat Air Force once again used the red and white chequered shield, now surmounted with five small shields representing Ancient Croatia, Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Istria and Slavonia. In 1993 a much simpler marking was introduced: a blue disc charged with two red squares and the Croat national flag as a fin marking.
Although part of Croatia, the Republic of Krajina Serbia was established in 1993. Military aircraft were marked with the Serbian flag of red over blue over white and a semi-circle of these colours inscribed with the words 'Krajina' in red and 'militia' in white. Croat forces occupied Krajina in 1995.
Cuban military aviation can be traced as far back as 1913, but it was after the First World War that an organised air arm was formed. These aircraft bore the current United States markings because of their country of origin, and Cuba shared with the USA red, white and blue as the national colours.
From 1928 a new national insignia was used, a blue disc charged with a red triangle, point down. A white star was marked in the centre. This was used on the wings, and the rudders were marked with a red triangle complete with white star and horizontal striping of blue, white, blue, white and blue. A new marking was introduced in about 1955. This followed United States usage by having a white star with a red border and blue bars on the fuselage sides, above the port wing and below the starboard. The rudder markings were retained.
During the late 1950s and into the 1960s Castro's Revolutionary Air Force adopted yet another type of insignia. This was based on U.S. style and consisted of a red triangle with white star and bars each side of blue, white and blue. This marking was also used by the clandestine 'Liberation Air Force', which took part in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs episode. During the early 1960s the Cuban Air Force reverted to the pre-1955 markings. Some of the Soviet fighters used by Cuba appeared to carry wing and fuselage markings of a plain red triangle and white star.
The Cuban Navy obtained some aircraft as early as 1928. During the 1930s some of these aircraft carried two black crossed anchors on the rudder.
The Cyprus National Guard was formed in the late 1960s and its few current aircraft carry the national flag of a white field with an outline of the island in orange over a green wreath of leaves. As this force only operates in the Greek-held portion of the island aircraft have recently born the standard Greek insignia retaining the Cypriot flag on the fin. In 2011 aircraft have been seen with narrow white part of the roundel.
Czechoslovakia became an independent republic on the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. The national colours chosen were a combination of the red and white of Bohemia and the blue and white of Slovakia. The first insignia used the national colours as a roundel with a red outer ring, then blue and then white in the centre, or in reverse. This marking was identical with the Imperial Russian marking. As many of the new Czech Air Force's aircraft came from Russian sources, this was very convenient. Insignia of the Czech Legion during the Russian Civil War are listed under Russia. By 1920 the national flag was officially adopted, the white over red of Bohemia with the blue of Slovakia as a triangle at the staff. This flag was marked across the wings and fin of Czech aircraft. From 1921 a roundel based on the flag design was used.
In 1938 German forces invaded Czechoslovakia and the country ceased to exist. It was split into the 'Protectorate' of Bohemia-Moravia and the Republic of Slovakia, which had a desire to become a separate state. Slovakia formed its own air force in 1939. Many Czech airmen fought on the Allied side throughout the Second World War. The Royal Air Force squadrons 310, 311, 312 and 313 were all Czech units and all their aircraft carried a small Czech roundel in addition to the British markings. A Czech Legion was formed in Russia, which from late 1944 used the pre-1938 Czech roundel. After liberation Czechoslovakia was reunited and began to build up its air force. Various markings were used including the old flag type, but by 1948 the roundel form was in normal use. The white sector was always outboard, and was used with a blue surrounding ring, or white when marked on a dark surface. Unusually for Warsaw Pact aircraft the roundel was also marked on upper wing surfaces.
Since the 1930s, a paramilitary organisation called the Air Police was operating. This used civil registrations, but with an oblate form of the national roundel on the fin.
In 1993 the country decided to split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech Republic carried on using the same marking. Slovakia is described separately.