This article is about the insignia/symbol. For other uses, see Roundel (disambiguation).

A roundel is a circular disc used as a symbol. The term is used in heraldry but also commonly used to refer to a type of national insignia used on military aircraft, generally circular in shape and usually comprising concentric rings of different colours. Other symbols also often use round shapes.

The Tricolore cockade of the French Air Force was first used on military aircraft before the First World War[1]


Main article: Roundel (heraldry)

In heraldry, a roundel is a circular charge. Roundels are among the oldest charges used in coats of arms, dating from at least the twelfth century. Roundels in British heraldry have different names depending on their tincture.[2] Thus, while a roundel may be blazoned by its tincture, e.g., a roundel vert (literally "a roundel green"), it is more often described by a single word, in this case pomme (literally "apple", from the French) or, from the same origins, pomeis—as in "Vert; on a cross Or five pomeis".[3]

One special example of a named roundel is the fountain, depicted as a roundel barry wavy argent and azure, that is, containing alternating horizontal wavy bands of blue and silver (or white).

Military aircraft

The French Air Service originated the use of roundels on military aircraft during the First World War.[1] The chosen design was the French national cockade, whose colours are the blue-white-red of the Flag of France. Similar national cockades, with different ordering of colours, were designed and adopted as aircraft roundels by their allies, including the British Royal Flying Corps and the United States Army Air Service. After the First World War, many other air forces adopted roundel insignia, distinguished by different colours or numbers of concentric rings.

Military aircraft insignia, such as that of the Philippine Air Force and the Polish szachownica, are often called roundels even when they are not round.


Among flags which display a roundel are the flag of Bangladesh and the flag of Japan.

Flags for British overseas dependencies are often a British Blue Ensign defaced with a white roundel displaying the arms or badge of the dependency. The same pattern is used for some of the states of Australia.

The Who logo incorporates the roundel symbol used by mods


Military aircraft roundels

Other roundels

Some corporations and organizations make use of roundels in their branding.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Roundels.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Roundel.


  1. 1 2 "What is the origin of the RAF roundel?". Royal Air Force Museum. Archived from the original on 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2014-10-04. In December 1914 the RFC followed the example of their French Allies and adopted red, white and blue circles...
  2. Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1909). A Complete Guide to Heraldry. p. 151.
  3. Scottish Public Register vol. 32, p. 26
  4. Russell, Gary (2006). Doctor Who: The Inside Story. London: BBC Books. p. 86. ISBN 0-563-48649-X.


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