Timeline: US Air Force National Star Insignia

Information helpful to dating and identification US Air Force national insignia aircraft markings, commonly called "star & bars" or "roundels" that were first used by military aircraft of the United States before and during World War II.


Insignia Specification Number 241102-K

Dates used: 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.

Air Force National Star and Bars Insignia - 241102-K


Insignia Specification Number 24102-K (Amend #3)

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

The star remained the same except the red dot was removed to avoid confusion with the Japanese Roundel.

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

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

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.

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



Insignia Specification Number AN-I-9a

Dates used: 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.

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


Specification Number AN-1-9b

Dates used: 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.

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


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

Dates used: 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.

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


Information Sources: 

Victor Archer (USAAF Aircraft Markings and Camouflage 1941-1947: The History of USAAF Aircraft Markings, Insignia, Camouflage and Colors)Wikipedia (United States Military Aircraft insignia)