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AMERICA - MILITARY BRANCH & RANK INSIGNIA

US 5-star General of the Air Force

Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines

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US 5-star General of the Air Force

Unread postby ELSUPREMO » Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:53 pm

I wanted to point out that the artwork on the United States Air Force page has an inaccurate drawing for the 5-star grade of General of the Air Force. ALL depictions of this grade should have a GOLD US Coat of Arms eagle along with the five silver stars. All official regulations specify for this device. There were some rank charts produced in the 1970s and 1980s that incorrectly showed this insignia with the five stars only, but this was a significant error. I hope you will correct this and add the US Coat of Arms to all drawings for insignia of grade of General of the Air Force.
ELSUPREMO
 

Unread postby dcfowler » Wed Feb 21, 2007 5:45 am

I don't know about that. USAF uniform instructions from way back show the insignia without any coat of arms. I would regard that as fairly definitive.

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US 5-star General of the Air Force

Unread postby ELSUPREMO » Wed Feb 21, 2007 3:09 pm

In fact, official specifications (like blueprints) formulated by The Institute of Heraldry for the grade insignia for General of the Air Force do, in fact, specify for the US Coat of Arms along with the circle of five stars. Additionally, many years ago I was in contact with the Uniform Board of the Air Force at the Pentagon, and they confirmed to me that the US Coat of Arms is an integral part of the insignia of grade for the 5-star General of the Air Force.
ELSUPREMO
 

Unread postby dcfowler » Thu Feb 22, 2007 5:05 am

Or it could also mean that when Hap Arnold wore the insignia, the Air Force was just barely no longer a part of the Army, and was still wearing the Army pinks and greens uniform, for the most part.

When the Air Force transitioned to the blues, and started shedding Army traditions and insignia, they may have decided to drop the gold coat of arms, without asking TIOH for permission.

I have a large library of TIOH insignia construction drawings for both the Army and the USAF. Indeed, the Air Force does contract with the Institute of Heraldry for a lot of insignia design, but trust me, they don't use it for everything.

Also, I have a pair of USAF soft shoulder loops, manufactured by Vanguard that omit the coat of arms (though obviously they were never worn).

The last piece of this is, that general officers (especially 5-star general officers) can and do wear whatever uniform components they want, such as custom rank, covers, and other insignia. After all, who is going to argue with them? Not the Uniform Board!

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US 5-star General of the Air Force

Unread postby ELSUPREMO » Thu Feb 22, 2007 3:18 pm

Hap Arnold himself was responsible for the addition of the US Coat of Arms to the 5-star grade insignia. In a meeting with General of the Army George Marshall to discuss what insignia a 5-star General should wear, Arnold personally suggested that this device should be added, because as he put it, it would "give balance to the bare shoulder strap with only five stars" and would follow the British design for Field Marshal with the addition of the Crown to the crossed batons. He, as General of the Air Force (and as General of the Army) always wore five silver stars and the gold US Coat of Arms, and did so on his green Army Air Corps and Air Force blue uniforms. I corresponded with him and can tell you that photographs I received from him on both uniforms show him wearing this insignia. It is true that often the map is not the territory, and so regardless of what paper regulations and specifications show, he was the final authority of what the General of the Air Force would wear, and he did wear the US Coat of Arms. As a matter of fact, my extensive collection of Army and Air Force insignia acquired over several decades contain very many insignia manufactured with the five stars with and without the US Coat of Arms. The uniqueness of the grade held only by Hap Arnold, carelessness and misinterpretation of specifications and uniform regulations led to a misunderstanding of what should be worn, hence some earlier publications have perpetuated the myth that Air Force did not use the US Coat of Arms.
ELSUPREMO
 

Unread postby J.T. Broderick » Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:28 pm

I corresponded with him and can tell you that photographs I received from him on both uniforms show him wearing this insignia.


That is very interesting, I have never seen a photo of Gen. Arnold in Air Force blue, they are probably very rare considering the short time he lived after the uniform was introduced.

It seems very palusible to me that Gen. Arnold would simply transfer the shoulder insignia from his army uniform straight over to the blue suit, and the rarity of examples led to the insignia being mis-reported over the years.

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Unread postby ELSUPREMO » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:05 pm

Perhaps, but the fact remains that he was the individual responsible for the use of the US Coat of Arms as a device to represent a 5-star General, he was the only General of the Air Force, and he wore a gold US Coat of Arms and a circular cluster of five silver stars as both General of the Army and General of the Air Force. Regardless of any interpretations, regulations, or specifications, the US Coat of Arms is, certainly by use, an integral part of the grade insignia as it was actually worn by the only person to not only hold the office of General of the Air Force, but both the Army and Air Force 5-star grades. Often the map is not the territory.
ELSUPREMO
 

Flags for 5-star General of the Air Force

Unread postby ELSUPREMO » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:37 pm

It is interesting to note that General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold, who died in 1950 shortly after the blue Air Force uniform was introduced, and who was both General of the Army and then General of the Air Force, used the 5-star red Army color when General of the Army and the 5-star blue Air Force color when General of the Air Force. He was thus the only individual to have both of these flags. There is only one example of his 52" x 66" Air Force 5-star color in existence and this is or was on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. I have seen 5-star Air Force blue auto flags, and these were clearly made for his use.
ELSUPREMO
 

Unread postby J.T. Broderick » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:42 pm

Perhaps, but the fact remains that he was the individual responsible for the use of the US Coat of Arms as a device to represent a 5-star General, he was the only General of the Air Force, and he wore a gold US Coat of Arms and a circular cluster of five silver stars as both General of the Army and General of the Air Force.


"Perhaps, but" what? I was agreeing with you (though I did misspell "plausible")!

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Justin
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Unread postby ELSUPREMO » Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:02 pm

Oh, I did understand that and was only suggesting that your explanation was likely the best one to explain the discrepancies. The trail of history often twists and turns and it would be so much easier if it occured in a logical fashion.
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