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CanMilAir Roundel Prints . . .

History

Roun'del, n. - F. from rondelle, a round shield.


   In terms of military aviation, a roundel is an emblem (usually circular) applied to the wings and/or fuselage of military aircraft to identify the aircraft's nationality and often its branch of service.

   Roundels trace their origins to the opening months of the First World War when military aircraft were unarmed and the need to carry national markings had not been foreseen. After the first few weeks of war, the risk of ground troops mistaking friendly aircraft as hostile soon made it necessary to adopt a system of easily recognizable national identifiers on aircraft. And thus, a new branch of heraldry was created.

   The first recorded fleet-wide use of roundels in military aviation had been by France starting in 1912. The French Air Service's insignia was a circular representation of their Tri-colour flag in the form of a blue disc at the center, around which was a white ring, itself all surrounded by a red ring. This French roundel design (still in use today) was based on the "cockade" worn on the cap by the revolutionaries during the French Revolution.

   In late September 1914, the Imperial German Air Service began marking their aircraft with a black Teutonic cross. The British followed in October by painting their national flag, the Union Jack, under the wings and on the rudders or fuselage sides. Since at a distance, shapes are more easily discernable than colours, it was soon realized that the central red cross of St George in the Union Jack was being mistaken for the black German cross. Therefore in December 1914, the Royal Flying Corps adopted a design similar to their French allies but with different proportions and the order of colours reversed. By May of 1915, the RFC had officially discontinued the use of the Union Jack and introduced rudder striping in the three national colours. The Royal Naval Air Service chose instead to use a red ring with a white centre, which was thought to be as completely opposite to a black cross as was possible, and this design was used by the RNAS until replaced by the RFC roundel in November 1915.

   As a Commonwealth country, Canada used standard British markings on all of its aircraft until just after the end of WWII, when in 1946, a uniquely Canadian roundel was developed incorporating a maple leaf. This then led to the familiar "silver maple" roundel used for almost 20 years by the RCAF and the sugar maple roundels used by the RCN for 22 years. On February 15, 1965, a stylized 11 point maple leaf was introduced for the new Canadian flag, and this leaf has been the central component of all Canadian aircraft roundels ever since.

   If you would like to see the roundel designs of other countries around the world - visit: Roundels of the World.

 

Artwork

   Canadian Military Aircraft Roundel prints are offered in two formats, one of which is presented in two sizes. The four print sets are available in two sizes differing only by their dimensions - the regular 11" x 15" size and a smaller 8" x 11" size, while a single print format combines all the images and information found on the four individual prints and is 18" x 24". This individual print format is a special order with a longer delivery time.

  These prints (regardless of format) contain a total of 45 aircraft roundels, starting with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), Royal Canadian Naval Air Service (RCNAS) and Royal Flying Corps (RFC) during the First World War; the Canadian Air Force (CAF), Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) up to the end of WW 2; through the post-war Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Canadian Army; and finally, to those of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) found on today's modern combat and support aircraft. Each roundel image is labeled with its name, the years it was in "official" usage and a short explanation. In total, the four prints contain well over 2,000 words of explanatory text! These colourful prints would make a great gift for anyone interested in the history of Canadian military aviation and would look great in any office, study or den when framed. These prints were first made available for public sale on April 1, 2004. This date is a very special one, as it was the 80th Anniversary of the creation of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

   The extensive amount of research for the historical data, roundel dimensions and colour values required for these prints have come from a large  number of official and un-official sources that, not surprisingly, often conflicted with each other. However, there are a few I would like to make special note of. By far, the most significant references were the two excellent "Aircraft Finish and Markings" books. These are titled Royal Canadian Air Force - 1947 to 1968 published in 2003 and Canadian Military Aircraft - 1968 to 2004 published in 2004. Both of these books are filled with technical drawings, photos and historical information, and I consider myself most fortunate to have assisted the author with the editing of these two noteworthy books. The historians at The Office of Air Force History and Heritage, the public relations staffs of the Canadian DND as well as the British RAF and FAA and their official websites were all very valuable. For the Canadian naval aviation print, Leo Pettipas was especially helpful untangling the timelines of the various RCN roundels. Sources for CMYK colour values include the excellent "Canadian Colour Guide" located on the IPMS "Buzz" Beurling website, the FS 595B virtual color chart on the IPMS Earth website and the RAF WW2 digital colour charts located on the HyperScale website.

   All of the digital artwork was created using vector based CorelDraw 10 graphics software, so the images are guaranteed to be razor sharp and the colours solid. These prints are not mere colour photocopies. The four print sets are electronically printed directly from the original digital CorelDraw file in small printing runs on high quality 80lb premium Xerox Digital Colour Gloss Cover Stock using a new state-of-the-art Xerox Docucolour 2060 Colour Digital Press at a print resolution of 600 x 600 dpi and a colour depth of 8 bit. That's over 16 million possible colours, which is actually more than the human eye can discern! All of my printing is done by the professional staff at the M & T Printing Group.

11" x 15"  and  8" x 11" 
"The Early Years"
1914 to 1946

"The Silver Maple"
1946 to 1965

As a Commonwealth country, Canada used standard British national markings on all its aircraft from 1914 until after the end of WW2. By 1918, 40% of British pilots were from Canada and approximately half million Canadians served in the RCAF during WW2. In 1946, Canada was the first Commonwealth country to adopt its own unique national insignia. This first print contains 12 British roundels as used by the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force, Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1914 to 1946.

 

Shows 11 markings of the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1946 to the introduction of the new flag and leaf in 1965. Also on this print, is the first proposal for a unique Canadian roundel design originally drawn for the Avro Anson in 1944 but never used and two variations of the United Nations emblem used by Canadian peacekeeping forces since 1957.
"Naval Aviation"
1914 to 1968

"The New Leaf "
1965 +

Highlights 12 markings used by the Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Canadian Navy from 1914 to the Canadian forces unification in 1968 when the RCN converted all its aircraft to the new Canadian Armed Forces roundel. Four images have been repeated on this print from the first two prints as they are common to each theme. However, on this print two of these roundels are drawn using well-documented non-standard dimensional variations. The only images that are identical to images on the previous prints are the Union Jack and the Type D roundel. The text, however, is completely different for all these markings.

 

Showcases ten different roundels using the new 11-pointed stylized maple leaf introduced in February 1965. Covered are the red and white Unification roundels and the newer low-visibility roundels found on today's tactical combat aircraft.

 

8" x 24"

A single print format showing all roundels and text from the four individual prints.

 

These prints are proudly dedicated to the men and women who have served 
with the air elements of our Canadian military - past, present and future.
 

To purchase these prints, start by going HERE and selecting the format.




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