Tuesday, March 06, 2018

The History of Civil Air Patrol Symbols: Part One

(This post was originally published on 26 July, 2016)

The symbols of Civil Air Patrol reveal our origins as a component of the Office of Civilian Defense. For decades the Civil Defense logo was ubiquitous all around the nation and could be found everywhere from cars, signs, shelters, and sirens. Remember this?

On 12 February, 1942 CAP NHQ approved the official CAP symbol:

"Operational Directive No. 2 February 12, 1942, (OD No. 2)  National Headquarters, Civil Air Patrol Office of Civilian Defense(Washington

The Civil Air Patrol insignia (blue disk with superimposed white triangle and with red three-bladed propeller superimposed on white triangle) shall be placed on the wings and fuselage of all aircraft engaged in official Civil Air Patrol Missions. Any aircraft while displaying such insignia shall be flown exclusively by members of the Civil Air patrol."

A member of CAP during World War II. You can see the CAP insignia on her left shoulder

The insignia on the right was used circa 1942-1944 while the insignia on the left, with "Civil Air Patrol" added to the patch was introduced in 1944. 
Because CAP was a part of the Office of Civilian Defense it was only natural that CAP's insignia was derived from CD insignia. CAP's symbol during the WWII era was the blue circle and white triangle found on the Civilian Defense insignia, with a red triangle replacing the letters "CD." Later versions of this emblem included the letters "US."

For reference here is a poster with the other CD insignia of the era. 

Interestingly, CAP's insignia (albeit used in a modified form today) is the only insignia on this poster still used today, as the concepts of and the term Civilian Defense (and later Civil Defense) fell out of favor as the nation transitioned to policies of "Emergency Management." In fact, today's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a direct descendant of The Office of Civilian Defense (and it's various incarnations during the post-World War II and Cold War period.)

CAP kept its CD-derived insignia even after it was transferred to the authority of the War Department and became the auxiliary of the United States Army Air Forces. 

In future posts we will see the evolution of the symbols of CAP and the balance of maintaining a link to CAP's history and looking forward towards CAP's future.