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Parachutist Badge (United Kingdom)

The British Armed Forces award a range of Parachutist Badges to those qualified as military parachutists. The version awarded depends largely on the unit or role that the individual fills following qualification.

Parachute Badge with Wings
Wings badge.JPG
Parachute Badge with Wings
Awarded by the United Kingdom
TypeMilitary Badge
EligibilitySoldiers of the British armed forces and Allied nations
Awarded forMilitary Parachutist Proficiency
StatusCurrently awarded
DescriptionComes in several versions


Member of 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment (see Parachute Badge with Wings on his right sleeve)

During World War II with forming of the first British Airborne units parachute training was a 12-day course carried out at the No. 1 Parachute Training School, RAF Ringway. Recruits initially jumped from a converted barrage balloon and finished with five parachute jumps from an aircraft.[citation needed] Anyone failing to complete a parachute jump was returned to his old unit (known as "returned to unit" or "RTU"). At the end of the course, new Paras were presented with their maroon beret and parachute wings and posted to a parachute battalion.[citation needed]

Currently British military personnel must complete the Basic Parachute Course, which is held by No 1 Parachute Training School at RAF Brize Norton, a 9-jump course attended by personnel from all branches of the UK Armed Forces. Troops make each descent from a C-130 or Skyvan aircraft using the Low Level Parachute at heights of 800 ft and 1000 ft.[1] On successful completion of their nine descents, trainees are presented with their 'wings'[2] by the Officer Commanding No. 1 Parachute Training School, and return to their units as qualified parachutists.


Royal NavyEdit

All Qualified military parachutists serving in the Royal Navy wear the Army pattern parachutist badge, a parachute with wings. In gold on blue on No 1 Uniform and (in miniature) on No 2 Uniform; in white on blue on RN PCS or light blue on khaki drill on MTP. The badge is worn above the trade badge and 6mm below the shoulder seam on right arm.[3]


The British Army has three parachute qualification badges for non SF qualified soldiers:

  • Assistant Parachute Jump Instructor;
  • Parachute Badge with Wings (also used by the Royal Marines), and
  • Parachute Badge without Wings.[2]
Field Marshal Baron Walker of Aldringham, the Parachute Badge without Wings can be seen on his left sleeve

The Parachute Badge with Wings insignia, which depicts an open parachute embroidered in white flanked by a pair of wings embroidered in light blue, is only to be worn by a qualified parachutist who has subsequently been on the posted strength of a unit where he may be ordered in the course of his duties to parachute.[4] Those who do not serve with a parachute unit are permitted to wear the Parachute Badge without Wings, colloquially known as the 'Lightbulb'.[5]

Special ForcesEdit

The parachutist's badges for personnel of the SAS and SBS are of different designs, Special Forces Communicators attached to the SBS wear SBS pattern wings.[6]

SAS pattern parachute wings, designed by Lieutenant Jock Lewes and based on the stylised sacred Ibis wings of Isis of Egyptian iconography depicted in the décor of Shepheard's Hotel in Cairo, are worn on the right shoulder.[7] During the second world war, after a qualifying number of active service "jumps", they were worn on the left breast above medal ribbons.[8]


Qualified RAF and RAF Regiment personnel wear a badge similar to the Army's Parachute Badge with Wings, formerly on an RAF blue-grey backing, since 1972 on navy blue; there is an RAF equivalent to the 'lightbulb'.[9] The Parachute Jump Instructor badge is categorised as a Flying Badge.


  1. ^ "RAF Brize Norton". Ministry of Defence.
  2. ^ a b "The Sign of a Specialist".
  3. ^ RN BR3 Chapter 39 para 3902
  4. ^ Adjutant General's Administrative Instructions Para 43.198 a.
  5. ^ Adjutant General's Administrative Instructions Para 43.198 b.
  6. ^ "Special Boat Service Dress Regulations" (PDF).
  7. ^ Davis, Brian Leigh (1983). British Army Uniforms and Insignia of World War Two. Arms and Armour Press. p. 67. ISBN 0-85368-609-2.
  8. ^ Wellsted, Ian (1997). SAS with the Maquis. Greenhill Books.
  9. ^ AP 1358 - Uniform Dress and Appearance Regulations, Chapter 7 - Distinguishing Insignia

See alsoEdit