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Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) is an air officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. Air Vice-Marshals may be addressed generically as "Air Marshal".

The equivalent rank in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) (until 1968) and Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS) (until 1980) was Air Chief Commandant.


Air Vice-Marshal is a 2 star rank and has a NATOmarker ranking code of OF-7. It is equivalent to a Rear-Admiral in the Royal Navy or a Major-General in the British Army or the Royal Marines.

The rank of Air Vice-Marshal is immediately senior to the rank Air Commodore and immediately subordinate to the rank of Air Marshal. Since before the Second World War it has been common for air officers commanding RAF groups to hold the rank of air vice-marshal.


On 1 April 1918, the newly created RAF adopted its officer rank titles from the British Army, with officers at what is now Air Vice-Marshal level holding the rank of Major-General. In response to the proposal that the RAF should use its own rank titles, it was suggested that the RAF might use the Royal Navy's officer ranks, with the word "Air" inserted before the naval rank title. For example, the rank that later became Air Vice-Marshal would have been Air Rear-Admiral. The Admiralty objected to any use of their rank titles, including this modified form, and so an alternative proposal was put forward: Air Officer ranks would be based on the term "Ardian", which was derived from a combination of the Gaelic words for "chief" (ard) and "bird" (eun), with the term "Third Ardian" or "Squadron Ardian" being used for the equivalent to Rear-Admiral and Major-General. However, Air Vice-Marshal was preferred and was adopted on 1 August 1919. The following officers were the first to be appointed to the rank:

RAF insignia, command flag and star plate

The rank insignia consists of a narrow light blue band (on a slightly wider black band) over a light blue band on a broad black band. This is worn on the both the lower sleeves of the tunic or on the shoulders of the flying suit or the casual uniform.

The Command Flag of an Air Vice-Marshal has two narrow red bands running through the centre.

The vehicle star plate for an Air Vice-Marshal depicts two white stars (Air Vice-Marshal is equivalent to a two star rank) on an air force blue background.

Image:UK-Air-OF7.svg||An RAF Air Vice-Marshal's sleeve/shoulder insigniaFile:File-UK-Air-OF7-mess-insignia.svg|An RAF Air Vice-Marshal's sleeve mess insigniaImage:UK-Air-OF7-Flag.svg|An RAF Air Vice-Marshal's command flagImage:Air Vice-Marshal star plate.svg|An RAF Air Vice-Marshal's star plate

Other air forces

The rank of Air Vice-Marshal is also used by a number of the air forces in the Commonwealth, including the Bangladesh Air Force, Ghana Air Force, Indian Air Force (IAF), Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) where it has been the rank held by the Chief of the Air Staff (now known as the Chief of Air Force) since 1943. It is also used in the Egyptian Air Force, Hellenic Air Force, Royal Air Force of Oman and the Royal Thai Air Force. In the Indonesian Air Force the equivalent rank is Marsekal Muda (literally "Young Marshal" or "Junior Marshal" which is usually translated as Air Vice-Marshal in English. Compare this with the next rank up which is "Marsekal Madya" literally "Middle Marshal" which is usually translated as Air Marshal in English).

The Royal Canadian Air Force used the rank until the 1968 unification of the Canadian Forces, when Army-type rank titles were adopted. Canadian Air Vice-Marshals then became Major-Generals. In official French Canadian usage, the rank title was vice-maréchal de l'air. The Royal Malaysian Air Force used the rank until the late 1970s when it was replaced with Mejar Jeneral (Major-General).

Image:Thai air O7.png|A Royal Thai Air Force Air Vice-Marshal's rank insigniaImage:RAAF O8 rank.png|An RAAF Air Vice-Marshal's rank insigniaFile:Air Vice Marshal of IAF.png|An Indian Air Force's Air Vice-Marshal's rank insignia

See also


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