For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Air vice-marshal.

Air vice-marshal

The examples and perspective in this deal primarily with the United Kingdom and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. You may improve this , discuss the issue on the talk page, or create a new, as appropriate. (October 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

Air vice-marshal (Air Vce Mshl or AVM) is a air officer rank used by some air forces, with origins from the Royal Air Force.[1] 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.

Air vice-marshal is usually equivalent to a rear admiral or a major general. The rank of Air Vice-Marshal is immediately senior to the rank Air Commodore and immediately subordinate to the rank of Air Marshal. Since before the Second World War it has been common for air officers commanding RAF groups to hold the rank of Air Vice-Marshal. In small air forces such as the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Ghana Air Force, the head of the air force holds the rank of Air Vice-Marshal.

The equivalent rank in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force,[2] Women's Royal Air Force (until 1968) and Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (until 1980) was "air chief commandant".


The Australian Air Corps adopted the RAF rank system on 9 November 1920 and this usage was continued by its successor, the Royal Australian Air Force. However, the rank of air vice-marshal was not used by the Australian Armed Forces until 1935 when Richard Williams, the Australian Chief of the Air Staff, was promoted. Margaret Staib of the Royal Australian Air Force served in the rank of air vice-marshal from 2009 to 2012 when she retired from the Australian Defence Force.


In 1920, Sir Willoughby Gwatkin, the former Canadian Chief of the General Staff, was granted the rank of air vice-marshal and appointed the inspector-general of the newly established Canadian Air Force.[3] The rank was used until the 1968 unification of the Canadian Forces, when army-type rank titles were adopted. Canadian air vice-marshals then became major-generals. In official Canadian French usage, the rank title was vice-maréchal de l'air.[4]


United Kingdom

Air Vice-Marshal
Command flag
Shoulder and sleeve insignia
An RAF Air Vice-Marshal star plate
Country United Kingdom
Service branch Royal Air Force
AbbreviationAVM / Air Vce Mshl
NATO rank codeOF-7
Non-NATO rankO-8
Formation1 August 1919 (1919-08-01)
Next higher rankAir Marshal
Next lower rankAir Commodore
Equivalent ranks


On 1 April 1918, the newly created RAF adopted its officer rank titles from the British Army, with officers at what is now air vice-marshal level holding the rank of major-general. In response to the proposal that the RAF should use its own rank titles, 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 vice-marshal would have been air rear-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 "third ardian" or "squadron ardian" being used for the equivalent to rear admiral and major general. However, air vice-marshal was preferred and was adopted in August 1919.[5] The following officers were the first to be appointed to the rank, and their former service ranks are also shown:

Officer Rank in RAF Rank in Army Rank in Navy
Edward Ashmore[6] Major-general Major-general None
Sir Sefton Brancker[7] Major-general Major-general None
Edward Ellington[8] Major-general Brigadier-general None
John Higgins[9] Major-general Brigadier-general None
Sir Godfrey Paine[10] Major-general None Rear-admiral
Sir Geoffrey Salmond[11] Major-general Major-general None
Sir John Salmond[12] Major-general Major-general None
Sir Frederick Sykes[13] Major-general Major-general Wing captain
Sir Hugh Trenchard[14] Major-general Major-general None

RAF insignia, command flag and star plate

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

The command flag of an air vice-marshal has two narrow red bands running through the centre.

The vehicle star plate for an air vice-marshal depicts two white stars (air vice-marshal is a two-star rank) on an air force blue background.

As of August 2014, air vice-marshal was the highest uniformed military rank currently held by a woman in the British Armed Forces when Air Vice-Marshal Elaine West was awarded the position in August 2013.[15]


See also


  1. ^ "Ranks and Badges of the Royal Air Force". Royal Air Force. 2007. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  2. ^ "Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) in Australia during WW2". Oz at War. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  3. ^ "GWATKIN, Sir WILLOUGHBY GARNONS – Volume XV (1921–1930)". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  4. ^ "The RCAF". Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  5. ^ Hobart, Malcolm C (2000). Badges and Uniforms of the Royal Air Force. Leo Cooper. p. 26. ISBN 0-85052-739-2.
  6. ^ Barrass, Malcolm (3 November 2007). "Major-General E B Ashmore". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Archived from the original on 2 October 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  7. ^ Barrass, Malcolm (16 June 2007). "Air Vice-Marshal Sir Sefton Brancker". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Archived from the original on 6 October 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  8. ^ Barrass, Malcolm (16 June 2007). "Marshal of the RAF Sir Edward Ellington". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  9. ^ Barrass, Malcolm (16 June 2007). "Air Marshal Sir John Higgins". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  10. ^ Barrass, Malcolm (29 July 2009). "Rear Admiral (Air Vice-Marshal) Sir Godfrey Paine". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  11. ^ Barrass, Malcolm (7 October 2007). "Air Chief Marshal Sir Geoffrey Salmond". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  12. ^ Barrass, Malcolm (30 November 2008). "Marshal of the RAF Sir John Salmond". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Archived from the original on 11 November 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  13. ^ Barrass, Malcolm (17 June 2007). "Air Vice-Marshal The Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick Sykes". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  14. ^ Barrass, Malcolm (9 October 2007). "Marshal of the RAF The Viscount Trenchard of Wolfeton". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  15. ^ "Woman RAF officer joins top military brass". BBC News. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  16. ^ "Badges of rank" (PDF). Department of Defence (Australia). Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  17. ^ "OFFICER'S RANKS". Archived from the original on 19 February 2020. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  18. ^ "Rank Structure". Ghana Air Force. 2018. Archived from the original on 21 January 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2024.
  19. ^ "For Officers". Indian Air Force. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  20. ^ "Government Notice" (PDF). Government Gazette of the Republic of Namibia. Vol. 4547. 20 August 2010. pp. 99–102. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  21. ^ Smaldone, Joseph P. (1992). "National Security". In Metz, Helen Chapin (ed.). Nigeria: a country study. Area Handbook (5th ed.). Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. pp. 296–297. LCCN 92009026. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  22. ^ "Commissioned Officers". Sri Lanka Air Force. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  23. ^ "RAF Ranks". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  24. ^ "Rank Chart (Commissioned Officers)". Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  25. ^ "Ranks and Badges in the AFZ". Air Force of Zimbabwe. Archived from the original on 9 June 2022. Retrieved 29 May 2021.


{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Air vice-marshal
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?