Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation


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RAF Non-Commissioned Ranks/Trade Classifications


Ground Trades (All Trades) 1918 - 1950, Non Technical Trades 1950 - present and Aircrew up to 1946

With the formation of the RAF it was necessary to amalgamate the non-commissioned trade classification/rank structures of the RFC and RNAS, with the decision being taken to create a three group trade structure.  Trades were divided into Technical, Administrative and General trades, each group having a different set of classification/rank titles, as follows (daily rates of pay shown in brackets): -

Group I

Technical

Group II

Administrative

Group III

General

Badge Replaced (RFC) Replaced (RNAS)
Boy

(1/-)

Boy

(1/-)

Boy

(1/-)

No Badge Boy Boy Steward
Air Mechanic 3rd Class

 (2/-)

Clerk 3rd Class

 (1/8)

Private 2nd Class*

 (1/6)

No Badge Air Mechanic 3rd Class Air Mechanic 2nd Class

Officers Steward 3rd Class*

Officers Cook 3rd Class*

Air Mechanic 2nd Class

 (3/-)

Clerk 2nd Class

 (2/-)

Private 2nd Class

 (1/6)

No Badge Air Mechanic 2nd Class Aircraftman 2nd Class

Aircraftman 1st Class

Air Mechanic 1st Class***

 (4/-)

Clerk 1st Class

 (3/-)

Private 1st Class*

 (1/8)

Air Mechanic 1st Class Air Mechanic 1st Class***

Aircraftman 1st Class

Officers Steward 2nd Class*

Corporal Mechanic***

 (5/-)

Corporal Clerk**

 (4/-)

Corporal*

 (2/4)

Corporal Corporal Leading Mechanic***

Leading Aircraftman**

Officers Steward 1st Class*

Sergeant Mechanic

 (6/-)

Sergeant Clerk

 (4/9)

Sergeant

 (3/3)

Sergeant Sergeant Petty Officer
Chief Mechanic

 (7/-)

Flight Clerk

 (5/6)

Flight Sergeant

 (3/10)

Flight Sergeant 1918 - 1952 Flight Sergeant Chief Petty Officer 3rd Class
Master Mechanic*

(8/-)

Master Clerk**

 (6/9)

Sergeant Major 2***

(6/9)

Warrant Officer 2nd Class Quartermaster Sergeant*

Sergeant Major (Superintending Clerk) **

Warrant Officer (Superintending Clerk) **

 

Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class
Chief Master Mechanic*

 (9/-)

  Sergeant Major 1***

(7/6)

Warrant Officer 1st Class Sergeant Major (Technical)*

Warrant Officer (Technical)*

Sergeant Major (Discipline)***

Warrant Officer (Discipline)***

Chief Petty Officer 1st Class* 

The daily rates of pay shown above are in shillings and pence, for comparison 10 shillings (10/-) was equivalent to 50p.

On transfer to the RAF it seems that a number of trade classifications, particularly between the RNAS and RAF were not transferred at the exact same level as might be expected so many personnel appeared to drop a classification level on transferring, eg; AM2 (RNAS) being transferred as AM3 (RAF).

On 1 January 1919 the three strands were replaced by a single trade classification/rank structure as shown below.  After WW2 new NCO ranks were introduced to differentiate between Technical and Non-Technical trades and between ground trades and NCO aircrew.  Until 1950 all ground tradesmen wore the same rank badges, however in that year a separate rank structure was introduced for Technical tradesmen.

Apprentice/Boy Entrant Apprentice badge  
Aircraftman 2nd Class (AC2) No Badge

Introduced on 1 Jan 1919 as a trade classification to replace Air Mechanic/Clerk/Private 3rd Class and in some trades 2nd Class. 

Aircraftman 1st Class (AC1) No Badge

Introduced on 1 Jan 1919 as a trade classification to replace Air Mechanic/Clerk/Private 2nd Class and Private 1st Class in some trades. 

Aircraftman No Badge

Introduced on 1 January 1951 as the lowest rank/trade classification in the new RAF rank structure, held by personnel undergoing initial training prior to being assessed on their level of proficiency at the end of their training.

Leading Aircraftman/woman (LAC/LACW*) Leading Aircraftman/woman

Introduced on 1 Jan 1919 as a trade classification to replace Air Mechanic/Clerk/Private 1st Class.   It became a part of the RAF disciplinary rank structure on 1 January 1951.

*Introduced on the formation of the WAAF

Senior Aircraftman/woman (SAC/SACW) Senior Aircraftman/woman Introduced on 1 January 1951 as an intermediate rank between LAC and Corporal.
Corporal Corporal Introduced in 1918 as the lowest NCO rank for all trades.
Sergeant Sergeant Introduced in 1918 for all trades.
Flight Sergeant Flight Sergeant 1918 - 1952

Flight Sergeant  1952 - present

Introduced in 1918 for all trades.

Queen's Crown replaced the Kings Crown in 1952.

Sergeant Major 2*

Warrant Officer 2nd Class**

Warrnat Officer 2nd Class *Introduced in 1918 for all trades, replaced by WO2 in 1933

**Replaced Sergeant Major 2 in 1933, discontinued in 1939.

Sergeant Major 1*

Warrant Officer**

Warrant Officer 1st Class 1918 - 1939, Warrant Officer 1939 - present *Introduced in 1918 for all trades, replaced by WO in 1933

**Introduced in 1933 replacing SM1 as the senior Non-Commissioned rank.  Became the only Warrant rank in 1939.

This page was last updated on 01/07/18

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