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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

RFC Ranks


tjp28blue
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Hello,

Please excuse my ignorance on this matter, but I am researching Victor Barrington-Kennett and his career in the RFC in 1914 -1916. I know that he was promoted to Lieutenant on 22nd January 1915 (London Gazette), and later on to Captain and Major before he was shot down by Max Immelman. During his time as a Lieutenant he was often referred to as Flying Officer Barrington-Kennett. Are these two ranks equivalent or have I lost a promotion?

Many thanks and Happy New Year to everyone.

Regards,

TJP

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Before someone better qualified than I comes along, I believe at that time it was an appointment rather than a rank.

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Pre-1918, Flying Officer was a 'trade' rather than a rank. Thus, a Lieutenant (or other rank) could be a 'Flying Officer', 'Observer' etc.

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I believe commissioned officers were designated a Pilot Officer on completion on obtaining Pilot Brevet but would retain the Army rank they then held. I assume the appointment "Flying officer" wasgiven after a certain amount of experience or on being posted to an operational Squdaron.

On formation on 1st April 1918 the RAF initially adopted Army ranks such as 2lt. lt, Capt. Maj. for commissioned officers.

This changed in 1919 when the current rank structure was introduced. probably on pressure from former RNAS officers who would have had Navy rank with the prefixes such as Flight (Lt) or Wing (Commander). There was/is no equivalent Royal Navy rank of 2Lt. this became Pilot officer in 1919 with Flying Officer becoming equivalent to Lt. (Army) & Sub Lt.(navy)

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Pilot Officer did not become a rank until in August 1919, when the RAF was reorganised, Army ranks being used up until that time.

'Pilot Brevet' is officially the Pilot's Flying Badge (commonly referred to as 'wings').

RFC/RAF pilots (and observers) upon graduation (i.e. having been granted the right to wear wings) were appointed to the Flying Officer branch which later (from August 1919?) became the General Duties Branch. Operational service was not a prerequisite for pilots.

Errol

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  • 2 weeks later...

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