Six things You Didn’t Know About the Air Force Symbol

7 years ago  •  By  •  0 Comments

Like most military insignia, the modern US Air Force logo is steeped in symbolism. Some connections are obvious, while others are a bit more subtle, including a surprising link to one of history's greatest wartime leaders.

AF symbol

Here, with a little help from the USAF trademark office, are 6 things you probably didn’t know about the Air Force Symbol:

    1. The modern wings are based on the Henry “Hap” Arnold wings, proudly worn by the Army Air Forces during WWII.

      Henry "Hap" Arnold Wings

      The bent wings with a star and circle are meant to symbolize the service’s heritage

    2. Part of the symbol’s inspiration can be attributed to Winston Churchill

      V For Victory Winston Churchill

      While designing the famous wings upon which the Air Force symbol is based, Army Air Force General Henry “Hap” Arnold and his artist drew inspiration from a photo of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s famous “V for Victory” hand gesture. When Arnold saw a sketch of the wings bent up rather than straight, he reportedly exclaimed “That’s exactly what I wanted!”

    3. Making up the top half of the symbol, the wings signify the enlisted men and women of the Air Force

      USAF Symbol Wings

      The section is divided into six sections to illustrate the Air Force’s distinct capabilities: air and space superiority, global attack, rapid global mobility, precision engagement, information superiority, and agile combat support

    4. The center sphere represents Earth

      USAF Logo Center Sphere

      While it’s ironic that the smallest portion of the symbol is meant to represent something as large as planet Earth, the globe in this instance shows the obligation of the service to secure our nation’s freedom with Global Vigilance, Reach and Power

    5. Arguably, the most meaning-packed section is the center star

      USAF Symbol Center Star

      The five points of the star stand for each component of the total force and family: Active Duty, Civilians, Reserve, Guard and Retirees. In addition, the star represents the Air Force’s space force, as well as representing the officer corps that leads the service

    6. Finally, the three diamonds that frame the bottom half of the star represent the core values of the Air Force

      USAF Symbol bottom diamonds

      (1) Integrity first, (2) Service before self and (3) Excellence in all they do


All images credit: US Air Force