Uniform query re APO RAFAC head-dress


I’ve been trying without any success to be able to access AP1358C V3.0 and I therefore ask the forum members for their understanding on my query:

  • do new-world APOs RAFAC continue to NOT wear white bands upon their black mohair cap-bands, other than when they are attending Cranwell for OIC at ATF (in other words, the same convention as was the case for OCdts RAFVR(T)?

  • do new-world APOs RAFAC continue to OFFICIALLY wear white disks at all times behind their beret-badges until completing OIC at ATF? (ie the same convention as was meant to be the case for OCdts VRT, but seemed to be a bit of a variable in practice)

These always struck me as being odd combinations, previously: effectively it meant that pre-grad Offrs had a ‘virtual’/invisible white band around their headgear that only materialised (see what I did there) once they arrived at Cranwell, yet a constant white disk on berets.

So: do APOs RAFAC wear “white-up” hats pre-ATF (which would be somewhat-logical) or not?

Your informed opinion on this matter is appreciated: and have a great ATC Sunday everyone, no matter how you’re observing the day.


I have never seen either in the wild. They just aren’t issued. The rank slides do it instead now, they have white backed braid.


Our APO wears neither white bit (hasn’t been issued either), and has never once been called out on it by our particularly fastidious Flt Sgt.

APOs in every other walk of RAF life wouldn’t wear them, either.


No to both. Just the new white backed rank slides.


Well…they certainly do when at Cranwell

My point is, if UAS and Regular APOs only wear white hatbands/ white rank-braid backing & lapel-tabs only whilst at Cranwell, but our RAFAC APOs are requires to wear white rank-braid backing OUTWITH Cranwell, does that officially also extend to white hatbands as well?

nb this is not a crazy question…it is a completely-logical query to raise…and one I need a real-world answer for.

I’m not making change proposals or whatever, I’m just wanting to confim what the uniform regulation officially states…is the (contradictory) combination that was previously in place for OCdts VRT still maintained for APOs RAFAC…white on the rank and NOT on hats, outwith the confines of Cranwell?)


if your particularly fastidious Flight Sergeant saw this post they would indicate it is “FS” rather than “Flt Sgt”



well nowadays.

when it [APO] first came in i did see a APO with white disc on a beret but that is the only example i ever saw and was waaay back when it was first introduced. I haven’t seen either on a beret or SD hat since - I don’t know the official ruling as is the OPs request but my experience


Worn only when attending OIC white backed ranked slides are worn at all time until conpletion of OIC


You get issued the Whiteband during your week at ATF. In the meantime you should be wearing the new RAFAC APO rank slides


They’re not APOs, they’re OffCdts, it’s just that their No1s are ranked up so that they don’t need to be re-tailored after one parade.

They’re not referred to as APOs, FOs, etc until the next day.

I know, I was one!


When I was an Officer Cadet (Regular) at Cranwell, white bands on SD caps and the white discs on berets were worn at all time in uniform, both at Cranwell and on any other base we may have been visiting.

The regular ‘Officer Cadets’ actually fall under two different groups, ‘Officer Cadets’ who do not hold a degree and are not commissioned until graduation and ‘Student Officers’ who have completed at least a batchelors degree and hold a commission from the date they were attested - they hold the rank they will commission in to from the outset.
Both are termed ‘Officer Cadets’ at The RAF College (neither are saluted), however on graduation from there Student Officers are usually Flying Officers (some may be higher) whilst Officer Cadets become Acting Pilot Officers, or Pilot Officers. The white band is removed at midnight on graduation day and ‘Gazetting’ then occurs. (In the case of SERE Officer Cadets (Doctors, Lawyers etc), their rank on graduation may be higher still - I have seen someone ranked as Sqn Ldr on Cranwell grad photos!).

RAFAC Officers are similar to ‘Student Officers’ in the regulars, in that their commission is granted from the outset (post completion of OASC). However outside of the attendance at ATF OIC the white hat band is not worn. The substantive rank is Pilot Officer (in some cases Flying Officer), but all are termed ‘Acting’ until ATF is completed and wear the white backed rank slides until that stage. They are paid compliments.
(Has anyone seen a RAFAC Acting Flying Officer rank slide ?!)

To confuse things further, the University Air Squadrons also have Officer Cadets and Acting Pilot Officers - UAS Officer Cadets wear officer uniform, but with an Airman’s SD cap/ beret. They are not commissioned and are not paid compliments.
Acting Pilot Officers on UAS Squadrons are commissioned, wear standard Pilot Officer rank slides (no white backing), and are paid compliments. They typically move on to being a Student Officers at Cranwell and revert to ‘Officer Cadet’ (regular) status as Student Officers


I don’t beleive that’s the case re student officers/officer cadets any more in the regulars - everyone graduates as a Plt Off now except for pilots (ironically given the nomenclature), ex rankers and (I think) engineers.


SERE course officers now complete the last phase of main course and graduate with a rank commensurate with the professional status. They wear the same identifiers as the main course until graduation. When I did SERE you were commissioned from day 1, no identifiers that you were. SERE course members and only did 4 weeks at Cranwell. The only identifiers we had were branch relevant.


Indeed, I just ignored SERE as they graduate as all sorts of things!

It’s not the last term of IOT though, it’s a condensed course (eg in around 1 term they do First Step with term one, VE with term 2 and then grad prep with term 3 cadets!


Hmm, not sure if that’s the case - If a Student Officer has been sponsored on their degree they will have gained seniority whilst on the UAS as an APO, and therefore come out of IOT as a Flying Officer regardless of branch.

(Admittedly the only people I know that have been in this position are Pilots and Engineers though, but can’t see why it wouldn’t work for any other branch that the RAF choose to sponsor for a degree?)


It’s changed in recent years.

Used to be the case that any uni graduates (regardless of whether they were UAS or not) graduated IOT as FO, anybody not a graduate; APO for 6 months.

Anyway, wandering from thread.


I did hear of a Group Captain graduating SERE and a friend who graduated as a reserve army officer Lt Col.


Possibly, but I’d imagine that’s a rare enough circumstance for it to be judged on a case-by-case basis.


Someone else on my campaign to correct the ‘Flt Sgt’ spouting delinquents!!


The first one was a QC and the second a professor of orthopaedic surgery who spent 6 months at Bastion.