Chapter 12—air force weather emblems and insignia

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HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: Heraldry, the art and science of symbols, has its origins in antiquity. The twelve tribes of Israel had distinctive emblems as did the emperors and legions of the Roman Empire and most other civilizations throughout history. However, it was 12th century warfare that stimulated growth of the heraldic system as we know it today. The advent of the closed visor helmet in the Middle Ages forced the guardians of chivalry to develop markings to help identify their comrades. The well-defined formations of two opposing forces rapidly collapsed after initial engagement into sword-wielding melees rendering the process of identifying allies and enemies to guesswork. In all that armor it was difficult to tell who was who. Consequently, knights began to paint their shields with symbols and geometric patterns in bright colors so they might be readily distinguishable to their own armies and allies. These emblems soon began to appear on the surcoats, lance-pennants, and horse armor.

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