Monday, 2 April 2018

The Real Fighting Kangaroo (Pt 2)

Continuing on from our previous post about our national roundel, here is part two of the post I wrote for Army last year.

Go to for the previous part.

 During the 50s and 60s, the Royal Australian Navy and RAAF continued to display British markings, flags and heraldry on their aircraft and ships. This led to much international confusion in ADF operations where Britain was not involved. 

Finally, in 1956 it was decided that a uniquely Australian insignia was required. Designs incorporating the Southern Cross or a boomerang were considered, but a kangaroo was decided upon. The choice was the No 5 and 6 Sqn AFC (Minchinhampton*) kangaroo standing erect… or the No 456 Sqn leaping kangaroo based on the 1937 penny. RAAF surveyed its members by a ballot and 81% of respondents voted for the leaping kangaroo, however there was a brief period where the erect kangaroo was used on roundels as a trial. 

The RAAF commenced applying the new roundel on the fuselages only. (9 years later the new roundel would be applied to the wings as well). The design was to have the kangaroo always facing forwards and, if on the wings, its feet pointing inwards denoting that it was always advancing towards battle

 The 1st Australian Task Force in Vietnam used a Red Kangaroo on a yellow shield as its symbol. The low level operations of Army Aviation’s 161 Reconnaissance helicopter squadron, 1st Aviation Regiment saw them remove the highly visible roundel and created a small black kangaroo which was less of an aiming mark for the enemy. The scene was set for how we would display our national insignia on our aircraft.
During Vietnam, the Royal Australian Navy started operating US made destroyers and began using US style designations for their squadrons. AUSDESRON (Australian Destroyer Squadron) Nos 1 and 2 adopted Red Kangaroo motifs with large white numerals which were displayed on their superstructures and funnels. Other motifs were used by other vessels and squadrons, however the Red Kangaroo became the standard symbol for HMA Ships. 

So the next time you see a Red Kangaroo, know that it is the symbol of the ADF!

More info on the Navy’s use of the Red Kangaroo can be found here:  Photog: Christopher Pearce(Special appreciation to Mr John Bennett for his fantastic article on the RAAF Roundel. To read the whole article, go to the ADF-Serials website here:

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No 1 Squadron's F/A-18F.