Vol - Cap Badges

Cap Badges

Many European countries have an eagle as the main charge of the heraldic shields of their respective monarchies: Germany, Austria-Hungary, and pre-revolutionary Russia all used some derivative of this bird in their badge. Poland did too, and even kept its badge under Communist rule, because Poland did not have a king since the partition of Poland late in the eighteenth century, so the symbol was merely nominal. In America, the cap badge of the US Air Force is the Great Seal of the United States, which also includes an eagle. But its use for the US Air Force derives from that service's derivation from the US Army, which also had the same badge.

Another source for putting an eagle on the cap badge is that it stands for royalty in general. Thus the Royal Air Force includes a complete eagle, even though the coat of arms of the United Kingdom does not. The air forces of various Arab countries do as well. And the air force of Egypt, although not a monarchy, uses "Saladin's Eagle" as well; formerly, they used a hawk. During the Second World War, the air forces of Italy, the Netherlands, Greece, and Yugoslavia also used a bird of prey as their cap badge. Over a decade after the Second World War, Japan formed the Air Self-Defense Force. This too had a bird other than an eagle as an emblem; probably it's the sort of bird-of-prey called a "Kite" because this was a reference to a battle involving the Emperor during which a Kite was seen in a tree against the rising sun.

Other countries use the vol as their main emblem. Israel Air Force is notable in that its emblem, not being a complete bird, avoids idolatry. The countries of the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War generally rejected the use of the eagle in the list of state seals above. For example, the Soviet air force used a vol very similar to the French, but supporting a conventional, five-pointed star, so as to distinguish themselves from having anything to do with Imperial Russia. Hungary had nearly the same symbol, while Romania had a different one. The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte, or East German Air Force, used a particularly modernistic vol as its cap badge. This had extra significance, because the Luftwaffe of Nazi Germany used an eagle carrying a swastika. Currently, the Russians have returned to their heraldic past, while the Germans use a symbol different from that of the Luftwaffe.

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