What is the origin of the RAF roundel?

At the start of the First World War aircraft bore no markings to denote their nationality, and thus often came under fire from British troops on the ground. From late August the Union Jack was painted on the undersides of aircraft, but this proved unsatisfactory, as from a distance it resembled the cross worn by German aircraft and thus still drew "friendly fire".

In December 1914 the RFC followed the example of their French Allies and adopted red, white and blue circles - the French roundel has blue in the centre and red on the outside, so the RFC reversed the order to give the roundel which (in differing forms) has distinguished British military aircraft ever since.

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