RAF/RAAF air crew ranks in the NWA

 

Rank

Comment

Army Equivalent

Navy Equivalent

NCO’s

Sergeant

The lowest aircrew rank, therefore a recent graduate

Sergeant

Petty Officer

Flight Sergeant

Achieved after one year as a sergeant; both sergeant ranks normally ate and drank in the sergeants’ mess, separate from the officers’ mess, and on formal occasions saluted and called ‘sir’ all commissioned officers

 

Staff Sergeant

 

Chief Petty Officer

Warrant Officer

The most senior non-commissioned rank, indicating an NCO pilot of some seniority. Sergeants called them ‘sir’ in formal settings, but did not salute them

 

Warrant Officer

 

 

Commissioned

Officers

Pilot Officer

The lowest commissioned officer rank; although usually a recent graduate; could also be a former flight sergeant who had been belatedly commissioned

 

2nd Lieutenant

 

Sub Lieutenant

(USN Ensign)

Flying Officer

Achieved after one year as a probationary pilot officer; these and the pilot officers were the junior commissioned pilots on a squadron

 

1st Lieutenant

Sub Lieutenant

(USN Lieutenant Junior Grade)

Flight Lieutenant

Senior pilots, usually only two of these on a Spitfire Squadron, usually commanding ‘A’ Flight & ‘B’ Flight respectively; the CO’s deputies

 

Captain

 

Lieutenant

Squadron Leader

A fighter squadron CO; on a bomber squadron, the flight commanders and CO’s deputies

 

Major

 

Lieutenant Commander

Wing Commander

The wing leader, known officially as ‘Wing Commander Flying’; or a bomber squadron CO

 

Lieutenant Colonel

 

Commander

Group Captain

The officer commanding a wing, who delegated the airborne combat leadership to his ‘Wing Commander Flying’; also the officer commanding a major base, like RAAF Richmond

 

Colonel

 

Captain

Air Commodore

The most junior ‘Air Officer’ rank, i.e. a one star general

Brigadier

Commodore