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A Guide to History & Evolution of US Air Force (USAF) Patches

A Guide to History & Evolution of US Air Force

Are you looking to order air force patches? You’ll find a vast variety of US military patches, from active duty uniform patches to embroidered morale patches. As our focus is air force patches, let’s explore the rich history comprising the journey of the United States Army's aviation patches from military aviation unit patches to separate air force patches. We’ll unravel the past learn about the importance behind these symbolic emblems.

Whether you're a looking to support our heroes by designing custom patches or need USAF patches for official purposes, this guide is for you!

The History of US Air Force Patches

U.S. military patches not only display names, units, ranks, and other details, but also tell stories of bravery of the soldiers came before and served, and proudly wore versions of these patches.

When talking about military and air force patches and military patches in general, the commonality wasn’t always the case. In the history of military patches, the trend of armed forces patches was the first, inspired by the British military. Of source, in the British military, only the senior ranking officers wore patches. However, these were effective in distinguished between the wearers’ military divisions, hence the reason the US armed forced adopted this trend.

Prior to the Civil War, the uniforms for military officers did not have adornments, and were relatively dull. The permission to use military patches—in limited quantities—came during World War I by a general.

The Evolution of US Air Force Patches

For forty long years, the US Army had an aviation unit—after which, finally, the United States Air Force (USAF) was established. The formation of the USAF took place in 1947, but its roots lie in Aeronautical Division (Signal Corps)—kind of a predecessor of the USAF created by the War Department in 1907. And yes, they had their own patches.

This USAF forerunner division featured multiple squadrons that engaged in air combat, thus playing a crucial role in the American Army. And during its four decades of existence, the aviation division underwent various changes in terms of titles, organizations, and missions. And then, it was detached from the army, becoming its own unit—marking a new chapter in the evolution of US Air Force patches.

You should know that a very limited number of custom patches were produced during those formative years, but with enough diving into history online will give you image of old aviation patches—if you’re looking to recreate and collect!

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World War II Air Force Patches – Types, Designs, and More

Further in history of US Air Force patches, we arrive in the early 1940s. During World War II, the organization that the army aviation division transformed into was called the US Army Air Forces (USAAF). During the war, there were two main types of patches. The first were jacket patches, which were large, and usually painted leather patches.

Then there were the US Air Force patches that went on the shoulder—i.e. the shoulder sleeve insignia, or “SSI”. These patches were smaller, and typically embroidered patches. Produced by the Southern Manufacturing Co., Inc. and distributed by the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot, the contract for these shirts was secured in September 1941. The aviator jacket’s left arm would feature this patch, representing the US Army’s air division during World War II.

If you’re looking to recreate WWII air force patches—especially complete with attaching these on aviator leather jackets—it is always smart to known about the design and placement of both to do justice to the patches products you’re ordering to show your pride and support!

As far as WW2 air force patches go, the Screaming Eagle insignia of the 101st Airborne Division is the most recognized SSI in the United States Army. Here’s a great fact for you: the eagle on the shoulder is not an ordinary American Bald Eagle. Instead, it commemorates the most famous animal mascot of the United States Army at the time, its origins traced back to the Civil War.

It was not until September 1947, about two years after WW2 ended, that a significant milestone was reached for the US Air Force. The first secretary of the Air Force took the oath of office, marking the official formation of the US Air Force, solidifying its position as the newest addition to the US Armed Forces. And along with this formation, came the first iteration of the USAF patches you see adorning the uniforms of the courageous air force members today!

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What Kind of US Air Force Patches Are There?

Currently, US Air Force patches are worn by active duty military, civilian (off-duty), Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard personnel. There are different types of military service unit patches, and the same goes for our air force. In the past, the patches for uniforms were colorful. However, since the early 1980s, such vivid patches are mainly worn by aircrews and space and missile crews.

As for others, they wear USAF patches with a more understated look—Woodland colors of the 1980s and desert hues that followed the first Gulf War. However, there are instances where a full color patch is permitted, such as for celebrations, commemorations, and other special occasions.

Going further, you’ll discover that Demonstration Team uniforms and blue fatigue uniforms have vibrant patches. The design and approval process is outlined in Air Force Instruction (AFI) 84-105, which contains guidelines to ensure the patches meet the Air Force's standards.

The history of US Air Force patches is a fascinating one. You get to learn not only about the evolution of US Air Force patches, but also the symbolism involved. And while you can wear a military or air force patch as a means of showing your pride and support, respecting it—from the accuracy of design to never misusing the patch—should always be priority number one.

Order High-Quality US Air Force Patches at ThePatchio

Whether you need to replicate PVC patches in military or get embroidered SSI patches, ThePatchio is your one-stop shop for superb quality custom patches. We a proud to have service organizations throughout the US as a part of our clientele, and we thus have the experience to create air force patched too.

Place an order for US Air Force patches online at ThePatchio today. We promise excellent quality, fair rates, and quick shipping for all order of customized patches!

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