Air Marshal

Air Marshal

:"This article is about the air force rank. Air marshal (or sky marshal) is also the term given to federal security agents who travel undercover aboard commercial airliners.":"For information on air force officers in the rank of Marshal, see Marshal of the Air Force."

Air Marshal (Air Mshl or AM) is an air officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force. [cite web |url= |title=Ranks and Badges of the Royal Air Force |accessdate= 2007-11-26 |year=2007 |publisher=Royal Air Force] The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. Officers in the rank of Air Marshal typically hold very senior appointments such commander-in-chief of an air force or a large air force formation. Officers in the ranks of Air Chief Marshal and Air Vice-Marshal are sometimes considered generically to be air marshals. Occasionally, air force officers of marshal rank are considered to be air marshals.


Air Marshal is equivalent to a 3 star rank and has a NATO ranking code of OF-8, equivalent to a Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy or a Lieutenant-General in the British Army or the Royal Marines.

The rank of Air Marshal is immediately senior to the rank of Air Vice-Marshal and immediately subordinate to the rank of Air Chief Marshal.


Prior to the adoption of RAF-specific rank titles in 1919, it was suggested that the RAF might use the Royal Navy's officer ranks, with the word "Air" inserted before the naval rank title. For example, the rank that later became Air Marshal would have been Air Vice-Admiral. The Admiralty objected to any use of their rank titles, including this modified form, and so an alternative proposal was put forward: Air Officer ranks would be based on the term "Ardian", which was derived from a combination of the Gaelic words for "chief" ("ard") and "bird" ("eun"), with the term "Second Ardian" or "Wing Ardian" being used specifically for the rank equivalent to a Vice-Admiral and Lieutenant-General. However, Air Marshal was preferred and was adopted on 1 August 1919. The rank of Air Marshal has been used continuously since 11 August 1919.

RAF Insignia, command flag and star plate

The rank insignia consists of two narrow light blue bands (each on a slightly wider black band) over a light blue band on a broad black band. This is worn on the both the lower sleeves of the tunic or on the shoulders of the flying suit or the casual uniform.

The command flag for an Air Marshal is defined by the single broad red band running in the centre of the flag.

The vehicle star plate for an Air Marshal depicts three white stars (Air Marshal is equivalent to a three star rank) on an air force blue background.

Other air forces

The rank of Air Marshal is also used in a number of the air forces in the Commonwealth, including the Bangladesh Air Force (BAF), Indian Air Force (IAF), Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). It is also used in the Egyptian Air Force, Nigerian Air Force, Ghana Air Force, Hellenic Air Force ("Antipterarchos"), Air Force of Zimbabwe and the Royal Thai Air Force. In the Indonesian Air Force, the equivalent rank is "Marsekal Madya" (literally "Vice Marshal") which is often translated as Air Marshal in English.

Royal Australian Air Force

In Australia, there are four appointments available for Air Marshals: the Chief of Air Force (CAF) and, at times when they are occupied by an Air Force officer, the Vice Chief of Defence Force (VCDF), the Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS), and the Chief of the Capability Development executive (CCDE).

Canadian Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) used the rank until the 1968 unification of the Canadian Forces, when Army-type rank titles were adopted and an Air Marshal became a Lieutenant-General. In official French Canadian usage, the rank title was "maréchal de l'air".

Marshal ranks

The Brazilian Air Force does not use air marshal ranks as an equivalent to general ranks, rather it uses a number of ranks based on the word brigadier. However, its highest rank is "Marechal-do-ar" which is a 5 star rank and equivalent to a Brazilian Army marshal. "Marechal-do-ar" is sometimes translated as "air marshal" but as it is a marshal rank, it might also be translated as "marshal of the air" or "marshal of the air force".

Similarly, the Royal Malaysian Air Force's 5 star rank of "Marshal Udara" may be translated as "Air Marshal" or "Marshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force".

Marshals of the Royal Air Force are also occasionally described as air marshals.

See also

* RAF officer ranks
* Ranks of the RAAF
* Comparative military ranks


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • air-marshal — air marˈshal noun A Royal Air Force officer of equivalent rank to a vice admiral or a lieutenant general • • • Main Entry: ↑air air marshal, etc see under ↑air • • • Main Entry: ↑marshal …   Useful english dictionary

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  • Air Marshal — Dienstgradabzeichen des britischen Air Marshal Air Marshal (Air Mshl) ist ein Dienstgrad in der britischen Royal Air Force, der Royal Australian Air Force und der ehemaligen Royal Canadian Air Force. Nach dem NATO Rangcode entspricht der Air… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Air Marshal — Épaulette de l Air Marshal britannique Air Marshal ou Maréchal de l air ( Air Mshl ou AM) est un grade militaire d officier utilisé par la Royal Air Force et d autres pays comme l Australie, la Thaïlande, la Grèce ou l Inde …   Wikipédia en Français

  • air marshal — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms air marshal : singular air marshal plural air marshals British 1) an officer of high rank in the British air force 2) tourism a sky marshal …   English dictionary

  • Air Marshal — noun the second most senior rank active in the Royal Air Force, ranking above Air Vice Marshal and below Air Chief Marshal …   Wiktionary

  • air marshal — noun a high rank of RAF officer, above air vice marshal and below air chief marshal …   English new terms dictionary

  • air marshal — /ˈɛə maʃəl/ (say air mahshuhl) noun 1. an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force or any of various other air forces, equivalent in rank to a lieutenant general in the army or vice admiral in the navy. 2. the rank. 3. → sky marshal …   Australian-English dictionary

  • air marshal — noun Date: 1919 1. a commissioned officer in the British air force who ranks with a lieutenant general in the army 2. sky marshal …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • air marshal — noun a) An armed, undercover guard on a commercial airline flight. b) A military rank used by air forces, mostly in Commonwealth countries. Syn: sky marshal …   Wiktionary

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