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American Military Patches, Other Insignia and Decorations of World War Two by Dr. Howard G. Lanham c. 1999

Shoulder Sleeve Insignia of Army Air Forces

Part Two: Miscellaneous Insignia of the Second World War

Army Regulations 600-40 of 31 March 1944 mention only the patches for numbered Air Forces (part one) and the ubiquitous Army Air Forces shoulder sleeve insignia, which appears in this site under basic elements. Additonal unit insignia were squadron insignia, worn on flight clothing as a large pocket patch and not a shoulder sleeve insignia. There were also blue triangular speciality insignia, which were worn on the lower sleeve and also are not shoulder sleeve insignia. A number of other Army Air Force shoulder sleeve insignia appeared before the end of World War Two. Even more appeared 1945-1947, prior to the creation of the United States Air Force as a separate branch of service. These will not be covered here but could be mistaken for World War Two insignia. Many of the remaining Army Air Force insignia were unofficial or were pushed through an unwilling War Department by the special interventions of Generals Eisenhower or Spaatz. As a group these insignia are inadequately documented and many the examples shown appear to post-War manufacture for collectors. If anyone can provide additional information I am interested in receiving it.

On July 28, 1945 certain arcs were authorized to be worn over the basic Army Air Forces patch for a number of commands, which had been interested in having their own insignia, but were turned down by the War Department. Many of these units appear to have taken matters into their own hands and may have worn unapproved insignia. Command arcs, some of which were approved after Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945, are illustrated on a separate page.

Basic Elements Army Air Forces

General Headquarters Air Force A. C. Ferrying Com. A. F. Ferrying Command Air Transport Command
General Headquarters
Air Force (1)
Air Corps
Ferrying Command
Air Forces
Ferrying Command (2)
Air Transport Command (3)
1937 1941 c. 1942 c. 1942
U.S. global global global
Airways Communication Systems
Army Airways
Communication Systems
c. 1944

Support Services

Air Technical Service Command Ninth Engineer Command 9th Engineer Com. w/ tab AAF w/ tab
Air Technical Service
Command in Europe
Ninth Engineer Command Ninth Engineer Command
Airborne Tab (4)
Other Airborne Engineer Units
(AAF Insignia Airborne Tab)
1945 1945 1945 c1943
E.T.O. E.T.O. E.T.O. Global
Aviation Engineers Twelfth Tactical Air Command Troop Carrier Command Airborne Troop Carrier Airborne Troop Carrier Variation
Aviation Engineers (5) Twelfth Tactical Air Command (6) I Troop Carrier Command (7) IXth Troop Carrier (8)
(English Made)
IXth Troop Carrier (9)
(Variation with "Ninth")
c. 1944 c. 1945 c. 1945 1944 1944
global Italy, E.T.O. global E.T.O. E.T.O.


Instructor Combat Crew
Instructor (10) Combat Crew (11)


  1. This insignia was replaced by the basic Army Air Forces insignia in 1941.
  2. Courtesy of Lars Kleine
  3. This insignia exists as a small metallic distinctive insignia (officially approved), as a shoulder sleeve insignia (unapproved) and as a large pocket patch. A similar patch (not shown) with a gold background was used by the Air Ferrying Command, which also included service pilots and WASPS among its members . The Air Ferrying Command was rolled into the larger AFATC.
  4. Three battalions of the 9th were airborne trained and wore a red airborne tab. Other Army Air Force Engineer Battalions were airborne trained and wore the tab above the basic Army Air Forces shoulder sleeve insignia.
  5. Courtesy Lars Kleine
  6. Not approved by the War Department (example not original).
  7. Not approved by the War Department as a shoulder sleeve insignia.
  8. Not approved by the War Department (original theater-made example)
  9. Courtesy: Bob Capistrano)
  10. Period item, but little information known as to background (Courtesy Lars Kleine)
  11. Appears in some references as World War II period, but little information known. (Courtesy Lars Kleine)

Army Air Force Command Arcs
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