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U.S. Air Force Rank Insignia Identification Guide

This is an identification guide for the Enlisted rank insignia and shoulder patches used by the U.S. Air Force from 1947 to date. To the best of our knowledge, all the examples shown are original manufacture. If anyone has questions or suggestions, please contact [email protected].

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Enlisted Patches. The system of enlisted ranks was inherited from the Army. Special rank insignia for the Air Force was approved in 1948, but the Army insignia continued to be worn until 1952 due to procurement issues. The rank of Private did not have an insignia.

Private 1st Class

Technician 5th (T/5)


Technician 4th (T/4)


Technician 3rd (T/3)

Staff Sergeant

Technical Sergeant

Master Sergeant

First Sergeant


Enlisted Patches. First Sergeant was a position assignment for the rank of Master Sergeant or higher. The position was identified by adding a diamond to the individual's current rank. Metal rank insignia was approved for wear in 1975.

Rank Chevron Sizes
Top - Standard Chevron renamed Large Chevron - 1961
WAF Chevron renamed Small Chevron, to be worn on the Tan Uniform shirt - 1961

Prototype Enlisted Chevrons
Proposed - 1952, Approved - 1955
Disapproved - 1956 before production.

Dress Uniform Chevrons
Top - Dress White Uniform approved for enlisted ranks - 1959-1969
Bottom - Dress Black Uniform approved for enlisted ranks - 1961
Approved for Dress White Uniform - 1969

Private 1st Class 1948-1952
Airman 3rd Class 1952-1967
Airman 1967-1975

Airman 1975-1992

Corporal 1948-1952
Airman 2nd Class 1952-1967
Airman 1st Class 1967-1975

Airman 1st Class 1975-1992

Sergeant 1948-1952
Airman 1st Class 1952-1967
Sergeant 1967-1975

Sergeant 1975-1992

Staff Sergeant 1948-1992

Technical Sergeant 1948-1992

Master Sergeant 1948-1992

First Sergeant 1945-1992

Senior Master Sergeant 1958-1992

Chief Master Sergeant 1958-1992

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force 1967-1992

1992 to Date

Enlisted Ranks were re-organized. Rank patches were produced in colors for wear with specific uniforms.

Top - Standard Color Chevron
Middle - Subdued Color Chevron
Bottom - Desert Color Chevron

Airman - E2

Airman 1st Class - E3

Senior Airman - E4

Staff Sergeant - E5

Technical Sergeant - E6

Master Sergeant - E7

First Sergeant - E7

Senior Master Sergeant - E8

Senior First Sergeant - E8

Chief Master Sergeant - E9

Chief First Sergeant - E9

Command Master Sergeant - E9

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force