Wing commander (rank)

Last updated

Wing commander
UK-Air-OF4-Flag.svg
An RAF wing commander's command pennant
British RAF OF-4.svg
A wing commander's sleeve/shoulder insignia from the Royal Air Force
Service branch Air forces
AbbreviationWg Cdr / WGCDR / W/C
NATO rank OF-4
Non-NATO rankO-5
Next higher rank Group captain
Next lower rank Squadron leader
Equivalent ranks
Related articles
History Royal Naval Air Service

Wing commander (Wg Cdr in the RAF, the IAF, and the PAF, WGCDR in the RNZAF and RAAF, formerly sometimes W/C in all services) is a senior commissioned rank in the British Royal Air Force and air forces of many countries which have historical British influence, including many Commonwealth countries but not including Canada (since Unification) and South Africa. It is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. It ranks immediately above squadron leader and immediately below group captain. [1] It has a NATO ranking code of OF-4, and is equivalent to commander in the Royal Navy and to lieutenant colonel in the British Army, the Royal Marines, and the US Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

Contents

The equivalent rank in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, Women's Royal Air Force (until 1968), and Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (until 1980) was wing officer. The equivalent rank in the Royal Observer Corps (until 1995) was observer commander which had a similar rank insignia.

Origins

The rank insignia of a Royal Naval Air Service wing commander RNAS Wg Cdr.png
The rank insignia of a Royal Naval Air Service wing commander

With the Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps adopting the name of Royal Naval Air Service on 1 July 1914, the Naval Air Service adopted appointments in addition to the naval ranks. Pilots wore insignia according to the appointment, not their rank. One of the appointments was wing commander, holding the rank of commander. [2]

On 1 April 1918, the newly created British Royal Air Force did not initially adopt a new rank structure, with personnel continuing their prior services' rank and uniform. There were some changes in ranks but it was inconstant. In 1920, the RAF began using the rank of wing commander. [3]

Usage

In the early years of the RAF, a wing commander commanded a flying wing, typically a group of three or four aircraft squadrons. In current usage a wing commander is more likely to command a wing which is an administrative sub-division of an RAF station. A flying squadron is normally commanded by a wing commander but is occasionally commanded by a squadron leader for small units. In the Air Training Corps, a wing commander is usually the officer commanding of a wing.[ citation needed ]

Insignia and command flag

The rank insignia is based on the three gold bands of commanders in the Royal Navy and consists of three narrow light blue bands over slightly wider black bands. This is worn on both the lower sleeves of the tunic or on the shoulder of the flying suit or the casual uniform.

The command pennant is two triangular command pennants used in the RAF. Two thin red lines differentiate this one from the other.

During 1941-45 RAF Fighter Command's wing leaders (of wing commander rank) were also allowed to use their own initials as aircraft identification letters on their personal aircraft, e.g., Wing Commander Roland Beamont's personal Hawker Tempest, JN751, was coded "R-B", Wing Commander John Robert Baldwin's personal Hawker Typhoon was coded "J-B".

Other air forces

The rank of wing commander is also used in a number of the air forces in the Commonwealth, including the Bangladesh Air Force, Ghana Air Force, Nigerian Air Force, Indian Air Force, Pakistan Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the Sri Lankan Air Force.[ citation needed ] It is also used in the Egyptian Air Force, Hellenic Air Force, Royal Air Force of Oman and the Royal Thai Air Force. The Royal Malaysian Air Force used the rank until it was retitled as that of lieutenant colonel in 1973, with the same rank insignia.[ citation needed ]

Royal Canadian Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) used the rank until the unification of the Canadian Forces (CF) in 1968, when army-type rank titles were adopted. A Canadian wing commander then became a lieutenant colonel. In official French Canadian usage, a wing commander's rank title was lieutenant-colonel d'aviation. The rank of wing commander continues to be used as a cadet rank at the Royal Military College of Canada.

In the 1990s, the Canadian Forces Air Command (the post-1968 RCAF) altered the structure of those bases under its control, redesignating them as wings. The commander of such an establishment was re-designated as the "wing commander" (or "Wg Comd"). Like the United States Air Force usage, the term "wing commander" (as used in the modern Canadian Forces) is an appointment, not a rank. A wing commander usually holds the rank of colonel.

United States Air Force

In the United States Air Force (USAF) wing commander is a duty title, not a rank. The equivalent USAF rank is lieutenant colonel who typically has command of a squadron. Because USAF wings are larger formations than RAF wings, the commander of a wing must hold at least the rank of colonel, and is typically a colonel or a brigadier general. The one exception to this is the commander of the 59th Medical Wing (Wilford Hall Medical Center) who is customarily a major general.

Civil Air Patrol (United States Air Force Auxiliary)

The Civil Air Patrol, the volunteer auxiliary of the USAF, follows the USAF rank structure. The CAP divides the nation into 52 wings (each corresponding to a state, territory, and District of Columbia). Each wing is headed by a CAP colonel, who holds the position of wing commander.

Notable wing commanders

See also

Related Research Articles

Commodore is a senior naval rank used in many navies which is equivalent to Brigadier and Air Commodore that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. It is either regarded as the most junior of the flag officers rank or may not hold the jurisdiction of a flag officer at all depending on the officer's appointment. Non-English-speaking nations often use the rank of flotilla admiral, counter admiral, or senior captain as an equivalent, although counter admiral may also correspond to rear admiral.

Lieutenant commander commissioned officer rank in many navies

Lieutenant commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander. The corresponding rank in most armies and air forces is major, and in the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces is squadron leader.

Flying officer is a junior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. In these cases a flying officer usually ranks above pilot officer and immediately below flight lieutenant.

Squadron leader OF-3 rank in the Royal Air Force and other air forces

Squadron leader is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure.

Group captain Senior commissioned rank which originated in the Royal Air Force

Group captain is a senior commissioned rank in many air forces. Group captain has a NATO rank code of OF-5, meaning that it ranks above wing commander, immediately below air commodore and is the equivalent of the naval rank of captain and the rank of colonel in other services.

Air commodore One-star rank and the most junior of the air-officer ranks

Air commodore is a one-star rank and the most junior of the air officer ranks which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence such as Zimbabwe, 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. The name of the rank is always the full phrase and is never shortened to commodore, which is a rank in various naval forces.

Air marshal air-officer rank

Air marshal is a three-star air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence, including the Commonwealth, 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.

Air chief marshal very senior air force rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force

Air chief marshal is a four-star air officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force, where it is the most senior peacetime air force rank. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries that have historical British influence and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-British air force-specific rank structure.

Flight Lieutenant is a junior commissioned rank in air forces that use the Royal Air Force (RAF) system of ranks, especially in Commonwealth countries. It has a NATO rank code of OF-2. Flight lieutenant is abbreviated as Flt Lt in the Indian Air Force (IAF) and RAF, and as FLTLT in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and has sometimes also been abbreviated as F/L in many services; however, it has never been correctly abbreviated as "lieutenant". A flight lieutenant ranks above flying officer and below a squadron leader and is sometimes used as an English language translation of a similar rank in non-English-speaking countries.

Pilot officer is the lowest commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many other Commonwealth countries. It ranks immediately below flying officer.

In military aviation, a wing is a unit of command. In most military aviation services, a wing is a relatively large formation of planes. In Commonwealth countries a wing usually comprises three squadrons, with several wings forming a group. Each squadron will contain around 20 planes.

An aviator badge is an insignia used in most of the world's militaries to designate those who have received training and qualification in military aviation. Also known as a Pilot's Badge, or Pilot Wings, the Aviator Badge was first conceived to recognize the training that military aviators receive, as well as provide a means to outwardly differentiate between military pilots and the “foot soldiers” of the regular ground forces.

A group is a military aviation unit, a component of military organization and a military formation. The terms group and wing differ significantly from one country to another, as well as between different branches of a national defence force.

Officer cadet is a rank held by military cadets during their training to become commissioned officers. In the United Kingdom, the rank is also used by members of University Royal Naval Units, University Officer Training Corps and University Air Squadron however these are not trainee officers and most do not join the armed forces.

Aircrew brevet Aircrew badge in RAF, British Army and other commonwealth nations

An aircrew flying badge is the badge worn on the left breast, above any medal ribbons, by qualified aircrew in the Royal Air Force, British Army, Indian Air Force, Pakistan Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, South African Air Force and Sri Lanka Air Force. An example of a real Pilot Brevet is as opposite:

Acting pilot officer

Acting pilot officer is the lowest commissioned grade in the Royal Air Force, being immediately junior to pilot officer. Unlike other RAF ranks which officers may hold in an acting capacity, acting pilot officer is maintained as a separate grade. It normally denotes an officer who has recently been commissioned and joined as a non-graduate direct entrant. Acting pilot officer is not an actual rank, and A/Plt Off's are later regraded to pilot officer, not promoted.

The officer ranks of the Royal Air Force, as they are today, were introduced in 1919. Prior to that Army ranks were used.

Taylorcraft Auster 1942 liaison aircraft family by Taylorcraft

The Taylorcraft Auster was a British military liaison and observation aircraft produced by the Taylorcraft Aeroplanes (England) Limited company during the Second World War.

Squadron (aviation) military aviation unit size

A squadron in air force, army aviation, or naval aviation is a unit comprising a number of military aircraft and their aircrews, usually of the same type, typically with 12 to 24 aircraft, sometimes divided into three or four flights, depending on aircraft type and air force. Land based squadrons equipped with heavier type aircraft such as long-range bombers, cargo aircraft, or air refueling tankers have around 12 aircraft as a typical authorization, while most land-based fighter equipped units have an authorized number of 18 to 24 aircraft.

Wing leader

Wing leader, or wing commander (flying), denotes the tactical commander of a Commonwealth military wing on flying operations. The terms refer to a position, not a rank, although the role was usually taken by an officer ranked wing commander. The position was also distinct from the commanding officer of the wing, generally a higher-ranked officer. The first wing leaders were appointed in 1941, and the position remained in use until the 1960s.

References

  1. "Military ranks". BBC Academy. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  2. "Fleet Air Arm, Naval Aviation, Royal Navy Air Service History- 1914 - 1 July: Royal Naval Air Service is formed". www.fleetairarmoa.org. Fleet Air Arm Officers Association. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  3. "Fleet Air Arm, Naval Aviation, Royal Navy Air Service History- 1918 - 1 April: RNAS and RFC amalgamated to create RAF". www.fleetairarmoa.org. Fleet Air Arm Officers Association. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  4. Geldenhuys, Preller (2007). Rhodesian Air Force Operations with Air Strike Log. Durban, South Africa: Just Done Productions Publishing (published 13 July 2007). ISBN   978-1-920169-61-9.
  5. "Pakistan to give top military awards to two pilots for downing Indian jet". indiatoday.in.
  6. Manu Pubby. "Abhinandan Varthaman's MiG21 locked in Pakistan's F16" . Retrieved 15 January 2020.