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Spanish military units have coats of arms, badges and emblems to distinguish them from other units both joint Armed Forces and service branches units.

The first evidence of medieval coats of arms is found in the Bayeux Tapestry from the 11th century, where some of the combatants carry shields painted with crosses. Coats of arms came into general use by feudal lords and knights in battle in the 12th century. By the 13th century arms had spread beyond their initial battlefield use to become a kind of flag or logo for families in the higher social classes of Europe. The use of arms spread to Church clergy, and to towns as civic identifiers, and to royally-chartered organizations such as universities and trading companies. In the 21st century, coats of arms are still in use by a variety of institutions and individuals. Military coats of arms and emblems were first required in navies and air forces to recognize naval fleets and squadrons. Nowadays Spanish military insignia are used for official wear or display by military personnel and Armed Forces units and organizations, including branches, commands, cops, brigades, divisions, regiments, battalions, centres et cetera.

Vicente de Cadenas y Vicent (1915–2005), Chronicler King of Arms of Spain, said military objects and natural figures are the most common heraldic charges used in Spanish Armed Forces heraldry. Chimeric figures are also used but they are uncommon. Mister Cadenas y Vicent also noted there are too many wrongly located charges in Spanish military escutcheons.[1][2]

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The Army has a fairly high number of coat of arms used by units, centres and organisms, it is the largest and most consistent military coats of arms collection in Spain. Emblems and badges of Army corps, military occupational specialties and some centres are also relevant. After the Uniformity Report adopted in December 1989, coats of arms design and standardization criteria for Spanish Army units and organizations were adopted according to Army Circular 371/70001/87. The Institute of Military History and Culture (Instituto de Historia y Cultura Militar), an agency of the Army, provides studies of coats of arms and definitive proposals.[3]

Coats of arms used in the Spanish Army have supporters called atributos (attributes) and displayed diagonally, the most important supporters are:

  • Units, centres and organisms of Infantry: Two Mauser rifles Spanish model 1893, armed with bayonets.
  • Units, centres and organisms of Cavalry: Two Spanish lances model 1861 with flags.
  • Units, centres and organisms of Artillery: Two 18th-century Spanish cannons.
  • Units, centres and organisms of Military Engineers: One pick and one shovel.
  • Units, centres and organisms of Signal Corps: Four Electrodes with rays.
  • Units, centres and organisms of Logistics Corps: A Mauser rifle Spanish model 1893 armed with bayonet and one torch.
  • Units, centres and organisms of Army Airmobile Force: Two helicopter rotors.
  • The Army Headquarters, its divisions, directions, and dependent organisms (except the King's Immemorial Infantry Regiment): Two Spanish captain general's sticks .
  • The Logistic Support Command and dependent organisms: Two torches.
  • The Land Force, Canarias Command, Light Forces, Heavy Forces, General Commands, Military Governments and other units, centres and organizations commanded by a general: One Spanish general's stick and sabre.
  • Units, centres and organizations commanded by a superior officer or an officer: One Spanish officer's stick and sabre.

Other relevant heraldic external ornaments are the Spanish Royal Crown and the name of the unit centres and organizations and sometimes the motto is also featured.[4]

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The Spanish Navy uses more emblems than coats of arms used by units, flotillas, Navy Marines, Naval Action Forces, Maritime Action Forces, centres, organisms and Fleet and Navy General Headquarters. The most habitual elements are anchors, cords, ships constructed at different dates and the Spanish royal crown.[5]

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Air Force

There are more emblems than coats of arms used by Spanish Air Force units, air bases, barracks, aerodromes, Air Force General Headquarters, its dependent divisions and other organisms or centres. Air Force emblems first appeared in 1913 displayed on the front part of the fuselage but they were not official until the 1920s. Most squadrons created after the Spanish Civil War didn't have an insignia until 1954, one year after the Pact of Madrid was signed by Spain and the United States. Since then all squadrom insignias except the symbol belonged to García Morato Group were replaced. The use of Air Force emblems and badges increased with the introduction of patches on Military uniforms during the decade of the 1970s. An order of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to regulate the patches was adopted in November 1995. José Ramón Pardo Onrubia and Carlos Bourdón García's book about Spanish Air Force symbols said it would be appropriate to standardize emblems and badges of units centres and organisms.

The Air Force Emblem was granted by Royal Warrant Circular of April 1913. Authorities were looking for quality projects to avoid one old-fashioned design in the future. The chosen proposal, still in use today, was created by Princess and Infanta Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, wife of Spanish Infante and airman Alfonso, Duke of Galliera. Princess Beatrice drew two silver wings united by a red disc with the Spanish royal crown. This is likely Princess Beatrice, Egyptologist and drawer, would have based on the Egyptian scarab, the winged disc of the Burial site of Seti I or Maat's wings. In Spain the Air Force Emblem is known colloquially as Rokiski the last name of the engraver who created military pilot wings between 1939 and 1965. Pilot wings and other Air Force specialties are based on the Rokiski.[6][7]

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Other units and organisms

Other badges

See also


  1. Cadenas y Vicent, Vicente de (1994). Fundamentos de heráldica. Madrid: Hidalguía. ISBN 84-87204-64-3. 
  2. What is Heraldry?. The Institute of Heraldry. US Army, accessed January 9, 2013.
  3. The Institute of Military History and Culture. Spanish Army Website, accessed January 9, 2013.
  4. García-Mechano y Osset, Eduardo (2010). Introducción a la heráldica y manual de heráldica militar española. Madrid: Spanish Ministry of Defence. ISBN 978-84-9781-559-8. 
  5. Official Emblems of the Navy. Spanish Navy (Spanish). accessed January 9, 2013.
  6. Emblems. Spanish Air Force, accessed January 9, 2013.
  7. Pardo Onrubia, José Ramón; Bourdón García, Carlos (2004) (in Spanish). Spanish Air Force Emblems and Coats of Arms, 1954–2004. Madrid: Visión Net. pp. 9–11. ISBN 84-9770-379-0. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 

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