CAP Cadet History Project

AL Wing cadets tour an Air Force facility, circa 1949.  Note the AL Wing patch on the right shoulder of the far
left cadet, and the CAP patch on the left shoulder of the far right cadet.  Bonus points if you can spot the encampment patch.

Wing Patches, 1948

Some Wings began to ask for their own distinctive wing patch in 1945.  The idea was approved, but on the Army Air Force uniform the Wing patch had to be worn on the right shoulder.  Wings began to submit designs for National approval in 1948.   Wings used a variety of design themes, from state symbols to World War II based cartoons.  Original Wing patches also did not conform to a single shape.  Wing patches were approved over time, some as late as 1954.
When the Air Force uniforms were approved for wear in 1951, the CD based patch was removed and replaced by the Wing patch on the left shoulder. 

Left shoulder patch, 1941

The first shoulder patch was based on the Civil Defense (CD) insignia.  Each CD division had a specific design symbol inside a white triagle enclosed by a blue circle. 

As the name implies, the Civil Defense system was set up for civilians to take part in essential non-military roles on the homefront.  CD allowed thousands of civilians to "do their part" for the war effort.  Many websites are devoted to Civil Defense history.

The original design was used by the first adult members of CAP.  They became "Senior Members" with the addition of the cadet program known as "Civil Air Patrol Cadets" in October 1942.

What's with the numbers in the Wing patches?

When CAP was formed and wing patches were being designed, the US was divided into an Army Corps structure based on population, not alphabetical order.  When you remove the hyphen, you arrive at the number found in some Wing patch designs.

First Army Corps Area

Maine 1-1    

New Hampshire 1-2
Vermont 1-3   

Massachusetts 1-4
Connecticut 1-5    

Rhode Island 1-6

Second Army Corps Area

New York 2-1    

New Jersey 2-2
Delaware 2-3

Third Army Corps Area

Pennsylvania 3-1    

Virginia 3-2
Maryland 3-3    

National Capital 3-4
Puerto Rico 3-5

Fourth Army Corps Area

Florida 4-1    

Georgia 4-2
South Carolina 4-3    

North Carolina 4-4
Tennessee 4-5    

Alabama 4-6
Mississippi 4-7    

Louisiana 4-8

Fifth Army Corps Area

Ohio 5-1    

Indiana 5-2    
Kentucky 5-3    

West Virginia 5-4

The first cadet patch design, worn on the left shoulder from 1942 until 1944.  Image is from Wikimedia Commons.

Second cadet patch design, worn on the left shoulder from 1944, until around 1951, or when the cadet's Wing approved their own Wing patch.  Some Wing patches were approved as late as 1954.

Circa 1964.  Note the swagger stick.


​Fifth Army Corps Area

Ohio 5-1    
Indiana 5-2    
Kentucky 5-3    
West Virginia 5-4

Sixth Army Corps Area

Illinois 6-1    
Wisconsin 6-2
Michigan 6-3

Seventh Army Corps Area

Minnesota 7-1    
Iowa 7-2
Missouri 7-3    
Arkansas 7-4
Kansas 7-5    
Nebraska 7-6
South Dakota 7-7    
North Dakota 7-8
Wyoming 7-9

Eight Army Corps Area

Texas 8-1    
Oklahoma 8-2
Colorado 8-3    
New Mexico 8-4
Arizona 8-5

Ninth Army Corps Area

California 9-1    
Oregon 9-2
Washington 9-3    
Idaho 9-4
Montana 9-5    
Nevada 9-6
Utah 9-7   
Alaska 9-8
Hawaii 49-1

NJ Wing Cadets pose before boarding a C-47 to encampment, 1951.  As in the photo on the left, the CD-based CAP remains on the left, with the Wing patch on the right.

Required wear until 2006:

Wings patches were required on the left shoulder of all uniforms, including shirts, sweaters, and jackets (except mess dress), until 2006.

There has also been a recent move to make all Wing patches conform to the Air Force heraldry standards.  Some Wings started from scratch, while others incorporate the old design within the Air Force Wing shield and scroll shape.