I was surprised to find
in this 1934 issue of
Flying Aces magazine that the European countries of Finland and Latvia
used Swastika insignia. The Germans were not the only country that used a
Swastika for military markings. According to Wikipedia, many Asian nations
and religions used the
swastika (pointing clockwise) or the sauwastika (pointing left) long
before the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi Party) decided to adopt
it as their organizational symbol. It would have been nice if Flying
Aces had supplied the chart of early 20th Century aircraft country
insignia in color, but back in the day color on anything other than the
cover was very rare. Fortunately, they labeled many areas with what their
color should be. I was going to colorize the symbols, but without knowing
the true shades, doing so might do more harm than good if someone were to
search for a color scheme for a model and mistakenly assume my chart was
Aircraft Marking of All Nations - Interesting Fact Article
By Willis L. Nye
Back in war days, it was pretty important to know and recognize the markings
of other planes in the air. Today, too, it is important, for different reasons.
We therefore present some authentic dope on how to tell the planes of all nations
from each other - facts that should interest model builders and all others with
an eye for aircraft.
The World War necessitated a specific marking of all aircraft used either by
the Central Powers or by the Allies. As a result, no military aircraft of any recognized
government today is without a marking device carried on the lower wings at the wing
tips and on both sides of the rudder surface. The war had not progressed many days
before aircraft became engaged in actual combat. Immediately the need to distinguish
friend from foe became of first importance. The Central Powers adapted the Iron
Cross, perhaps for no other reason than that it was a foregone conclusion that an
aviator in their military service sooner or later deserved to wear the coveted order
as a citation of bravery. The French adapted the tri-color in concentric rings mainly
because it was very easy to see at great heights and under poor visibility conditions.
The colors were for patriotic reasons. These markings have passed down, till today
they are official.
As a general summary of the various devices and markings, the circle is the favorite,
with its concentric ring patterns in the national colors of the country it represents.
Argentina employs circle marks of blue, white and blue. The navy has the same
mark except that the anchor is superimposed on the mark. The rudders for aircraft
of each service are the same. Belgium employs the circular red, black, and gold,
with the rudder the same. Bolivia uses the national colors, red, yellow, and red.
Brazil, likewise, uses green, yellow, and blue. The rudders are the same colors.
Chile employs a mark similar to that of the United States, with a red outer ring,
blue field, and white star. The rudder is blue, white and red, in the order named.
China also employs a white star on a blue field. The same device is used with
a white rudder. Czecho-Slovakia divides the circle into three parts, blue, red, and
white, with the same on the rudder. Denmark uses a red and white concentric circle.
The army uses the same on a white rudder. The navy insignia has a red pennant pattern
on a white rudder, similar to the Danish national colors. Mexico and Estonia employ
triangles concentrically arranged in national colors.
Finland and Latvia use the swastika colored differently, as shown in the diagram.
France and Paraguay use the tri-colored red, white, and blue circle. Paraguay uses,
no rudder markings. France uses the same national colors on the rudder. England
has her circle mark, blue, white, and red, as used in the World War, with a red,
white, and blue rudder. Greece has four marks. The army uses the circle mark, with
light blue border, white concentric ring, and light blue center. The rudder is striped
the same way. The, navy uses the same, except that the tone of the blue is changed
to dark blue.
Holland uses practically the same marking as Czecho-Slovakia, save for an orange
center ring. The rudder is striped red, white, and blue. Italy uses a square system
of three stripes, red, white, and green, and the same for the rudder. Japan employs
one big red circle, with the same on a white rudder, both for army and navy planes.
Little Lithuania employs a white cross pattern on colored, background for wings
and rudder. Norway employs the square design illustrated and colored as shown, and
the same pattern for the rudder.
Persia employs the same colors, as Italy - red, white, and green, in concentric
circles, and the rudder arrangement given. Poland employs a checkered pattern in
white and red. Portugal employs a red cross with a white cross concentric with a
red and green rudder. Roumania uses the circle mark - red, yellow, and blue, concentrically
arranged, with a rudder striped the same. Siam employs the circle divided five times
with red on the outside, then white, blue, white, red center, in the order named.
The rudder is the same way, striped horizontally.
Sweden uses her symbolic three black crows on a white circular background, while
the rudder is striped yellow and light blue. Spain uses the imperial colors of Aragon
in circular pattern of red, orange, and purple. The naval planes have a large "M"
alongside the ring design, and the rudder is striped red, orange, and purple.
Switzerland follows her national emblem of the stubby white cross on a red square
background for the wings and a white cross on a red rudder. The Union of the Socialistic
Republics plants the red five pointed star on the wing tips and the same on a white
rudder. Turkey uses her national emblem of the crescent and the star for the rudder,
and a red square on a white square background for the wings. Uruguay employs a blue
circle crossed by a red stripe, and a white stripe eccentrically arranged.
The United States has the insignia mark familiar to all of us. The U.S. Navy
rudder marks are the same as employed during the World War, while the Army rudder
marks were adapted in later years and resemble our ensign.
Jugo-Slavia has, without doubt, the most elaborate mark of all nations. It comprises
a St. George Cross outlined in dark blue with a white center, superimposed on a
concentric ring pattern of red, white, and light blue, in the order named. The rudder
is simple with a horizontal arrangement of a light blue stripe, white, and red stripe.
Aircraft Radio Call Letters
Although Germany is prohibited by the Versailles Treaty from possessing military
aircraft, most civil aircraft under the Hitler regime employs the Nazi swastika
in brown on a white background in a circular pattern. This is entirely unofficial.
During the war, the German aircraft employed crosses of varying patterns of black
and silver. The cross herein shown is the most commonly employed toward the end
of the war, and probably the official governmental marking. If the treaty is revised
to allow military planes, undoubtedly this is probably the insignia mark that will
According to the dictates of the International Radio Telegraph Conference, the
signal letters, radio call letters, and aircraft registration letters, have been
assigned to the leading countries of the world as follows: (see table to right)
All aircraft markings for registration carry the above letters as a preamble.
For example, NC-9006 on an American civil aircraft. Mexican aircraft might have
XA-1234 or any preamble between XA and XF series of letters - as XB-1234. In this
country, only N is assigned to prefix airplane registration. In England, the registration
is a letter combination, as G-EAXP. Other countries have their own particular ways,
but regardless of whether they are numerals or letters, the registration must have
the preamble letter assigned by international agreement before the registration.
Incidentally, at first the cocarde and the black cross were adapted by the warring
powers in the Great War as primarily a distinguishing and patriotic marking. It
has now been recognized by international agreement to be as necessary as the code
and ensign flags and pennants are to the merchant marine. And, as commercial aircraft
grows to sizeable proportions, the "house" flags of the various airlines and the
national registration will be as well known as the same corresponding marks on the
merchant marine. And thus do we progress.
Posted August 2, 2021