Timeline for the US Air Force National Star Insignia

In this post, we aim to provide a simple explanation in regards service dates and design requirements for US Aircraft Military Insignia Markings used during World War II. Commonly referred to as "star and bars" or "roundels". These iconic markings are used by military aircraft of the United States and can be seen today on many historic restorations, static museum displays, and honorary modern military aircraft paint schemes. To learn how a star insignia was painted by military specifications, check out How to paint a World War II Insignia.



Air Force National Star and Bars Insignia - 241102-K

Insignia Specification Number 241102-K

Dates In Service: August 19th, 1919 to May 28th, 1942

Centered red circle centered with in the star draw from the pentagon shape is commonly refereed to as "the Meatball." Colors were originally described as "old glory red" and "Old Glory Blue" or "Flag Red" and "Flag Blue" until the colors of Insignia Red and Insignia Blue were specified.

Colors: Insignia Blue No.47, Insignia White No.46, Insignia Red No. 45

Purchase Insignia Spec No. 541102-K

Below: Three Trainer BT-13 fly in formation clearly displaying Insignia Specification Number 241102-K.


U.S. Army Air Force National Star in Circle Insignia - Spec. No. 24102K

Insignia Specification Number 24102-K (Amend #3)

Dates used: May 28th, 1942 to June 29th, 1943

The star remained the same as Spec. No. 241102-K, keeping the simple star in circle design, except the red dot was removed. This change was thought to avoid any confusion with the Japanese Roundel.

Colors: Blue No.47, Insignia White No.46

Purchase Insignia Spec No. 24102-K (Amend #3)

Below: A P-47 with specification No. 24102-K Amendment No. 3.


U.S. Army Air Force National Star in Circle with Yellow Outline Insignia Vinyl - Spec. No. 24102-K

Insignia Specification Number 24102-K (Amend #3) Variation with yellow outline

Date Issued into Service: 8th Air Force Operation Memo number 9, October 1st, 1942. 

As seen in the North African Theater Operation Torch. The Yellow band would often vary in thickness. The design is inspired by the outermost ring among RAF Type A.2 & C.1 Roundels.

Colors: Insignia Blue No.47, Insignia White No.46, Identification Yellow No. 48

Purchase Operation Torch Insignia

Below: F4F-4 Wildcat fighters aboard USS Ranger (CV-4), while en route from the U.S. to North African waters, circa early November 1942 displaying their Insignia Specification Number 24102-K (Amend #3). 


U.S. Army Air Force National Star and Bars Insignia - Spec. AN-I-9a

Insignia Specification Number AN-1-9a

Dates In Service: June 29th, 1943 to August 14th, 1943

Experiments showed that at a distance, shapes were more important than colors, so bars were added to the roundel with an Insignia Red outline.

Colors: Insignia Blue No.47, Insignia White No.46, Insignia Red No. 45

Purchase Insignia Specification Number AN-1-9a

Below: P-38 Serial Number 42-67079 displaying the Insignia AN-1-9a.


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U.S. Army Air Force National Star and Bars Insignia - AN-I-9b

Specification Number AN-1-9b

Dates in Service: August 14th, 1943 to January 14th, 1947

The Insignia Red outline was replaced with an Insignia Blue outline through the amendment of Army-Navy aeronautical specification AN-I-9 on 14 August 1943. This was followed by an amendment to Technical Order 07-1-1, issued on 24 September 1943, for units in the field. On some US Navy aircraft in the Pacific the blue outline was lighter than the insignia blue.

Colors: Insignia Blue No.47, Insignia White No.46

Purchase Insignia Specification Number AN-1-9b

Below: B-17 (42-38091) with the National Star and Bar Insignia Number AN-1-9b.



U.S. Army Air Force National Star and Bars Insignia - Spec. AN-I-9b

Insignia Specification Number AN-1-9b (Amend #2)

Dates in Service: January 14th 1947 to Present

Twin Insignia Red lengthwise bars, bisecting the formerly all-white bars, were added to the roundel in reflection of 3 flag colors, roughly nine months before the official formation of the United States Air Force on September 26th, 1947.

Colors: Insignia Blue No.47, Insignia White No.46, Insignia Red No. 45

Purchase Insignia Specification Number AN-1-9b

Below: A National guard P-51 Mustang (44-473378) in flight showcasing with Insignia Specification Number AN-1-9b Amendment No. 2.


To see our Insignia Art Collection visit our store page at  https://www.aircorpsart.com/decals/insignia-roundel/