Marshal of the air force

Marshal of the air force, marshal of the air or a similar name is a five-star rank (or NATO equivalent OF-10) and an English language term for the most senior rank in some air forces. It is usually the direct equivalent of a general of the air force in other air forces, a field marshal or general of the army in many armies, or a naval admiral of the fleet.

NaviesArmiesAir forces
Commissioned officers
Admiral of
the fleet
Field marshal or
General of the army
Marshal of
the air force
AdmiralGeneralAir chief marshal
Vice admiralLieutenant generalAir marshal
Rear admiralMajor generalAir vice-marshal
CommodoreBrigadier or
brigadier general
Air commodore
CaptainColonelGroup captain
CommanderLieutenant colonelWing commander
Lieutenant
commander
Major or
commandant
Squadron leader
LieutenantCaptainFlight lieutenant
Lieutenant
junior grade
or
sub-lieutenant
Lieutenant or
first lieutenant
Flying officer
Ensign or
midshipman
Second lieutenantPilot officer
Officer cadetOfficer cadetFlight cadet
Enlisted grades
Warrant officer or
chief petty officer
Warrant officer or
sergeant major
Warrant officer
Petty officerSergeantFlight sergeant
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SeamanPrivate or
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The rank may be regarded as originating in the British Royal Air Force (RAF), in which the most senior rank remains Marshal of the RAF. Several other Commonwealth air forces and others that have been influenced by the practices of the RAF (especially in the Middle East) have similar names for the most senior rank, such as Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). There is sometimes confusion with the next most senior ranks in such cases: air chief marshal and air marshal (proper). The rank of Marshal of the RAF existed on paper from 1919; the first person to hold the rank was Lord Hugh Trenchard, from 1927. In the UK the rank has often been held by the most senior, actively-serving RAF officer, whereas in other Commonwealth countries the equivalent rank has been purely ceremonial or honorary in function. (For example, the rank of Marshal of the RAAF has been held only by a monarch or consort.)

In Portuguese the equivalent air force ranks are Marechal do Ar (lit. "Marshal of the Air") in Brazil, or Marechal in Portugal, both of which are sometimes translated as "marshal of the air force". In the past, a similar name has been used for the most senior rank in Italian air forces.

A holder of several senior ranks in the Indonesian air force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Udara; TNI-AU), may be referred to as a marsekal di TNI-AU (lit. "marshal of the TNI-AU"). The most senior rank is Marsekal Besar ("Grand Marshal") is sometimes translated as "marshal of the air force".

In Nazi Germany, the most senior rank of the Luftwaffe was Generalfeldmarschall (a rank that was also used by the German Army). While the commander of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göring was the only person to hold the more senior rank of Reichsmarschall, this rank could technically haver been bestowed on any senior officer of the Heer (army), Kriegsmarine (navy) and Luftwaffe, which together comprised the Wehrmacht.

While the air forces of the former Soviet Union had ranks named chief marshal of the aviation branch (or "chief marshal of the air force") and marshal of the aviation branch (or "marshal of the air force"), these were four-star and three-star ranks, respectively (and therefore equivalent to the less senior RAF ranks of Air Chief Marshal and Air Marshal respectively).

Seniority

A marshal of the air force can be properly considered equivalent to an army marshals or field marshal in many countries, as well as the naval rank of admiral of the fleet. That is, marshal of the air force is a five-star rank and in NATO countries it is described by the ranking code of OF-10. As such a senior rank, it is very seldom held. It is awarded either in a ceremonial capacity to Heads of State or members of Royal Families, or to the most Senior Officers in large Air Forces.

In the Air Force of Australia, India, Thailand and the United Kingdom, "Marshals of the Air Force" are immediately senior to Air Chief Marshals. In the case of New Zealand, although the rank of Marshal of the Royal New Zealand Air Force has been bestowed, no Royal New Zealand Air Force officer has attained higher rank than Air Marshal and the New Zealand rank of Air Chief Marshal only exists on paper. A similar situation to the one in New Zealand also existed in Malaysia until the 1970s when the Royal Malaysian Air Force replaced its air-officer ranks with general-officer ranks, although it retained the rank of Marshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force. The rank of Marshal of the Royal Canadian Air Force was never granted.[1]

During Germany's Nazi period, the Luftwaffe (Air Force), in common with the Heer (Army), used the rank of generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshal), which was equivalent to großadmiral (Grand Admiral) in the Navy. Generalfeldmarschall was immediately senior to generaloberst (Colonel General) and it was the most senior German Air Force and Army rank until the promotion of Hermann Göring, the Commander of the Luftwaffe, to the even higher rank of reichsmarschall (Imperial Marshal or Marshal of the Realm) in July 1940. The German ranks of reichsmarschall and generalfeldmarschall ceased to exist with the fall of the Third Reich.

Insignia and distinguishing flags

Rank insignia

There are a variety of rank insignia in use by the different air forces which maintain a rank of marshal of the air force. Some, such as the Royal Air Force, derive the pattern from the sleeve lace for an admiral of the fleet, using one broad light blue band on a wider broad black band with four narrow light blue bands each on slightly wider black bands. Others use a pattern of stars, typically numbering five in total.

Command flags

The following command or rank flags are or have been in use:

Current holders of the rank

As of 2017, there are 14 living individuals who hold or have held the rank, or its equivalents, of Marshal of the Air Force. 10 of those are royalty who have been appointed to the rank in a ceremonial capacity, including Queen Sirikit of Thailand, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the current head of state of Malaysia. In the case of Malaysia, the elected Yang di-Pertuan Agong is appointed a Marshal of the Air Force for his tenure as head of state, but relinquishes the rank after completing his term in office. He can, however, be re-appointed to the rank if he later serves another term.

The Duke of Edinburgh holds the ceremonial rank of a Marshal of the Royal Air Force, as well as the honorary ranks of Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force and Marshal of the Royal New Zealand Air Force; owing to their smaller size, however, neither of the latter two air forces have ever used the rank in an operational capacity. Although the rank of Marshal of the Royal Canadian Air Force existed on paper until 1968, the Duke of Edinburgh was never appointed to this rank nor to the other Canadian 5-star ranks before they were abolished that year. In 2012, his son, the Prince of Wales, was appointed to the British rank.

The remaining four holders of the rank were all serving air officers, three of whom served as Chief of the Air Staff of the Royal Air Force, and were promoted to the rank of Marshal of the Royal Air Force upon concluding their tenure. Of those, only Lord Craig did not retire then, as he went on to serve as Chief of the Defence Staff as a Marshal of the RAF. In June 2014, retired Air Chief Marshal the Lord Stirrup was promoted to Marshal of the RAF in a ceremonial capacity, marking the first time since 1992 that an RAF air officer had been awarded the rank; Lord Stirrup had served as Chief of the Defence Staff from 2006 to 2010.

List of marshals of the air force

Country
Year of promotion /
appointment
PortraitOfficer
Rank
Year of birth
Year of death
Notes
Australia1939HM King George VIMarshal of the Royal Australian Air Force18951952Honorary rank.
Australia1954HRH Prince Philip, Duke of EdinburghMarshal of the Royal Australian Air Force1921-Honorary rank.
Appointed 1 April 1954.[2]
BahrainHM Hamad ibn Isa Al KhalifahMarshal of the Royal Bahrain Air Force1950-Honorary rank.[3]
Brazil1959Armando Figueira Trompowsky de AlmeidaMarechal-do-ar18891964Promoted 30 January 1959[4]
Brazil1960Eduardo GomesMarechal-do-ar18961981Patron of the Brazilian Air Force. Promoted 22 September 1960.[5]
BrazilCasimiro Montenegro FilhoMarechal-do-ar19042000
EgyptHM King FaroukMarshal of the Royal Egyptian Air Force19201965Honorary rank.[6]
Egypt1952HM King Fuad IIMarshal of the Royal Egyptian Air Force1952-Honorary rank.
Appointed 26 July 1952 at the age of six months.[6]
EthiopiaHIM Haile SelassieMarshal of the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force18921975Honorary rank.[7]
EthiopiaHIM Amha SelassieMarshal of the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force19161997Honorary rank.[8]
Germany1938Hermann GöringReichsmarschall18931945Promoted to Generalfeldmarschall 4 February 1938, promoted to Reichsmarschall 19 July 1940
Germany1940Albert KesselringGeneralfeldmarschall18851960Promoted 19 July 1940
Germany1940Erhard MilchGeneralfeldmarschall18921972Promoted 19 July 1940
Germany1940Hugo SperrleGeneralfeldmarschall18851953Promoted 19 July 1940
Germany1943Wolfram Freiherr von RichthofenGeneralfeldmarschall18951945Promoted 16 February 1943
Germany1945Robert Ritter von GreimGeneralfeldmarschall18921945Promoted 25 April 1945
Greece1937George II of GreeceMarshal of the Royal Hellenic Air Force18901947Honorary rank.[9]
India2002Arjan SinghMarshal of the Indian Air Force19192017[10]Promoted.
26 January 2002[11]
Iraq1933HM King GhaziMarshal of the Royal Iraqi Air Force19121939Honorary rank.
Appointed 8 September 1933
Iraq1939HRH Prince Abdul IllahMarshal of the Royal Iraqi Air Force19131958Honorary rank.
Appointed 6 April 1939[12]
Iraq1953HM King Faisal IIMarshal of the Royal Iraqi Air Force19351958Honorary rank.
Appointed 2 May 1953
Italy1933Italo BalboMaresciallo dell'Aria18961940Promoted August 1933
JordanHM King Hussein of JordanMarshal of the Royal Jordanian Air Force19351999Honorary rank.[13]
Jordan1999HM King Abdullah IIMarshal of the Royal Jordanian Air Force1962-Honorary rank.
Appointed 7 February 1999[13]
Malaysia1970Sultan Abdul HalimMarshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force19272017Honorary rank.
Appointed 21 September 1970.[14][15] Relinquished role as Head of State on 20 September 1975. Re-appointed Head of State on 13 December 2011.
Malaysia1975Sultan Yahya PetraMarshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force19171979Honorary rank.
Appointed 21 September 1975[15]
Malaysia1979Sultan Ahmad ShahMarshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force1930-Honorary rank.
Appointed 30 March 1979[15]
Malaysia1984Sultan IskandarMarshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force19322010Honorary rank.
Appointed 26 April 1984,[15] died 22 January 2010.
Malaysia1989Sultan Azlan ShahMarshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force19282014Honorary rank.
Appointed 26 April 1989[15] died 28 May 2014.
Malaysia1994Tuanku JaafarMarshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force19222008Honorary rank.
Appointed 26 April 1994,[15] died 27 December 2008.
Malaysia1999SalahuddinMarshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force19262001Honorary rank.
Appointed 26 April 1999[15] died 21 November 2001.
Malaysia2001Tuanku Syed SirajuddinMarshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force1943-Honorary rank.
Appointed 12 December 2001.[15]
Malaysia2007Mizan Zainal AbidinMarshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force1962-Honorary rank.
Appointed 16 February 2007.[15]
New Zealand1977HRH Prince Philip, Duke of EdinburghMarshal of the Royal New Zealand Air Force1921-Honorary rank.
Appointed 11 June 1977.[16]
Oman1974Sultan QaboosMarshal of the Royal Air Force of Oman1940-Honorary rank.[17]
Portugal1958Francisco Craveiro LopesMarechal da Força Aérea18941964Honorary rank.[18]
Portugal1990Humberto DelgadoMarechal da Força Aérea19061965Posthumous promotion.[19]
Saudi Arabia1991HRH Prince Khalid bin SultanField Marshal1949-
Thailand1941Plaek PhibunsongkhramMarshal of the Royal Thai Air Force18971964Appointed 28 July 1941.[20]
Thailand1954Fuen Ronnaphagrad RitthakhaneeMarshal of the Royal Thai Air Force19001987Appointed 27 July 1954.[21]
Thailand1959Sarit DhanarajataMarshal of the Royal Thai Air Force19081963Honorary rank.
Appointed 28 February 1959.[22]
Thailand1960Chalermkiat VatthanangkunMarshal of the Royal Thai Air Force19141960Awarded Posthumously, after plane crashed while on duty.
Appointed 24 May 1960.[23]
Thailand1964Thanom KittikachornMarshal of the Royal Thai Air Force19112004Honorary rank.
Appointed 11 January 1964.[24]
Appointed himself.
Thailand1973Praphas CharusathienMarshal of the Royal Thai Air Force19121997Honorary rank.
Appointed 6 June 1973.[25]
Thailand1992HM Queen SirikitMarshal of the Royal Thai Air Force1932-Honorary rank.
Appointed 4 August 1992.[26]
Possibly the only woman to have held such rank.
United Kingdom1927Hugh Trenchard, 1st Viscount TrenchardMarshal of the Royal Air Force18731956Promoted 1 January 1927.
United Kingdom1933Sir John SalmondMarshal of the Royal Air Force18811968Promoted 1 January 1933.
United Kingdom1936HM King Edward VIIIMarshal of the Royal Air Force18941972Honorary rank.
Appointed 21 January 1936.
United Kingdom1936HM King George VIMarshal of the Royal Air Force18951952Honorary rank.
Appointed 11 December 1936.
United Kingdom1937Sir Edward EllingtonMarshal of the Royal Air Force18771967Promoted 1 January 1937.
United Kingdom1940Cyril Newall, 1st Baron NewallMarshal of the Royal Air Force18861963Promoted 4 October 1940. Retired 20 days later.[27]
United Kingdom1944Charles Portal, 1st Viscount Portal of HungerfordMarshal of the Royal Air Force18931971Promoted 1 June 1944.
United Kingdom1945Arthur Tedder, 1st Baron TedderMarshal of the Royal Air Force18901967Promoted 12 September 1945.
United Kingdom1946Sholto Douglas, 1st Baron Douglas of KirtlesideMarshal of the Royal Air Force18931969Promoted 1 January 1946.
United Kingdom1946Sir Arthur HarrisMarshal of the Royal Air Force18921984Promoted 1 January 1946, several months after retirement.[28]
United Kingdom1950Sir John SlessorMarshal of the Royal Air Force18971979Promoted 8 June 1950.
United Kingdom1953HRH Prince Philip, Duke of EdinburghMarshal of the Royal Air Force1921-Honorary rank.
Appointed 15 January 1953.
United Kingdom1954Sir William DicksonMarshal of the Royal Air Force18981987Promoted 1 June 1954.
United Kingdom1958Sir Dermot BoyleMarshal of the Royal Air Force19041993Promoted 1 January 1958.
United Kingdom1958HRH Prince Henry, Duke of GloucesterMarshal of the Royal Air Force19001974Honorary rank.
Appointed 12 June 1958.
United Kingdom1962Sir Thomas PikeMarshal of the Royal Air Force19061983Promoted 6 April 1962.[29]
United Kingdom1967Charles Elworthy, Baron ElworthyMarshal of the Royal Air Force19111993Promoted 1 April 1967.[30]
United Kingdom1971Sir John GrandyMarshal of the Royal Air Force19132004Promoted and retired on the same day (1 April 1971).[31]
United Kingdom1974Sir Denis SpotswoodMarshal of the Royal Air Force19162001Promoted and retired on the same day (31 March 1974).[32]
United Kingdom1976Sir Andrew HumphreyMarshal of the Royal Air Force19211977Promoted 6 August 1976.[33]
United Kingdom1977Neil Cameron, Baron Cameron of BalhousieMarshal of the Royal Air Force19201985Promoted 31 July 1977.[34]
United Kingdom1982Sir Michael BeethamMarshal of the Royal Air Force19232015Promoted and retired on the same day (14 October 1982).[35]
United Kingdom1985Sir Keith WilliamsonMarshal of the Royal Air Force1928-Promoted and retired on the same day (15 October 1985).[36]
United Kingdom1988David Craig, Baron Craig of RadleyMarshal of the Royal Air Force1929-Promoted 14 November 1988.[37]
United Kingdom1992Sir Peter HardingMarshal of the Royal Air Force1933-Promoted 6 November 1992.[38] Resigned commission 14 June 1994.[39]
United Kingdom2012HRH Prince Charles, Prince of WalesMarshal of the Royal Air Force1948-Honorary rank.
Appointed 16 June 2012.[40]
United Kingdom2014Jock Stirrup, Baron StirrupMarshal of the Royal Air Force1949-Honorary rank. Promoted 13 June 2014.[41]
Sri Lanka2019Roshan GoonetilekeMarshal of the Air Force1956-Honorary rank . Promoted 07 August 2019.[42]

Other countries

The rank also exists or has existed (on paper) in Afghanistan, Bangladesh,[43] Brunei, Iran, South Korea, Nigeria,[44] Pakistan[45] and South Vietnam, but not all of these countries have used it. The Turkish Air Force maintains a rank of hava mareşalı (literally air marshal but equivalent to five-star rank). The Indonesian Air Force maintains the rank of marsekal besar (literally, "great marshal" and also a five-star rank) although no Indonesian Air Force officer has ever been promoted to the rank. The French Air Force, in common with the French Army has marshal of France as its most senior rank. However, unlike the French Army, the Air Force has never had one of its officers created a marshal of France.

The United States does not use the rank, instead using general of the air force which has only been held once and is currently retained only on paper. China also does not use a marshal rank, preferring first class general (kong jun yi ji shang jiang) which has never been held by an air force officer and was abolished in 1994. Spain uses the equivalent rank of captain general of the Air Force which is held only by HM King Felipe VI.

Fictional use

A marshal of the air force is mentioned in Roald Dahl's book The BFG. Dahl himself was a Royal Air Force officer during World War II.

See also

References

  1. CAP 6 Dress Orders for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Ottawa: RCAF, 1958. pp. 3–62.
  2. "No. 40137". The London Gazette. 2 April 1954. p. 1959. Announcement of the appointment of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, as admiral of the fleet in the Royal Australian Navy, field marshal in the Australian Military Forces and marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force.
  3. Buyers, Christopher. "The Al-Khalifa Dynasty". The Royal Ark. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  4. "INCAER - Página inicial".
  5. "Marechal-do-Ar Eduardo Gomes, Patron of the Brazilian Air Force - HISTORY OF THE BRAZILIAN AIR FORCE".
  6. Egypt
  7. Buyers, Christopher (May 2001 – July 2007). "The Solomonic Dynasty - page 1". The Royal Ark. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  8. Buyers, Christopher (May 2001 – July 2007). "The Solomonic Dynasty - page 2". The Royal Ark. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
  9. The Who's who of the Allied Governments. 2. Allied Publications. 1942. p. 62.
  10. "Marshal of IAF Arjan Singh cremated with full state honour".
  11. India
  12. Buyers, Christopher. "Al-Hashimi Dynasty". The Royal Ark. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  13. Jordan Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Sultan Abdul Halim
  15. Maylasia
  16. "No. 47237". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 1977. p. 7127.
  17. Oman
  18. http://www.archontology.org/nations/portugal/port010/craveiro.php
  19. Portugal
  20. Royal Gazette, Announcement of Royal Decree, Volume 58, Page 981, 28 July 2484 B.E.
  21. Royal Gazette, Announcement from the Secretariat of the Cabinet pertaining to the awarding of military ranks, Volume 71, Chapter 47, Page 1672, 27 July 2497 B.E.
  22. Royal Gazette, Announcement from the Secretariat of the Cabinet pertaining to the awarding of military ranks, Volume 76, Chapter 28, Page 12, 28 February 2502 B.E.
  23. Royal Gazette, Announcement from the Secretariat of the Cabinet pertaining to the awarding of military ranks, Volume 77, Chapter 43, Page 2474, 24 May 2503 B.E.
  24. Royal Gazette, Announcement from the Office of the Prime Minister pertaining to the awarding of military ranks, Volume 81, Chapter 3, Page 1, 11 January 2507 B.E.
  25. Royal Gazette, Announcement from the Office of the Prime Minister pertaining to the awarding of military ranks, Volume 90, Chapter 64, Page 1, 6 June 2516 B.E.
  26. Royal Gazette, Announcement from the Office of the Prime Minister pertaining to the awarding of military ranks, Volume 109, Chapter 111, Page 1, 4 August 2535 B.E.
  27. Baron Newall
  28. Barrass, Malcolm (2007-09-29). "Marshal of the RAF Sir Arthur Harris". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
  29. Barrass, Malcolm (2007-09-01). "Marshal of the RAF Sir Thomas Pike". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
  30. Barrass, Malcolm (2007-06-16). "Marshal of the RAF The Lord Elworthy of Timaru". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
  31. Barrass, Malcolm (2007-06-16). "Marshal of the RAF Sir John Grandy". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  32. Barrass, Malcolm (2007-10-07). "Marshal of the RAF Sir Denis Spotswood". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  33. Probert, Henry (1991). High Commanders of the Royal Air Force. London: HMSO. p. 133. ISBN 0-11-772635-4.
  34. Probert, p. 135.
  35. Probert, p. 137.
  36. Probert, p. 139.
  37. Probert, p. 141.
  38. "No. 53103". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 November 1992. p. 18862.
  39. "No. 53814". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 October 1994. p. 14206.
  40. "Prince Charles awarded highest rank in all three armed forces," Daily Telegraph, 16 June 2012. Accessed 18 June 2012.
  41. "2014 Birthday Honours for service personnel and defence civilians". Ministry of Defence. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  42. "President awards honorary ranks to a Retired Admiral and Retired Air Chief Marshal - Sri Lanka Latest News". 2019-08-07.
  43. http://www.bangladeshnavy.org/ranks.html
  44. http://www.nigerianairforce.net/AboutNAF/ColoursWings.aspx
  45. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-03-04. Retrieved 2009-05-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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