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.
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 8½" 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
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.