Air Efficiency Award

Air Efficiency Award

First King George VI version
Awarded by the Monarch of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India
Country United Kingdom
Type Military long service medal
Eligibility Part-time Air Force officers, airmen and airwomen
Awarded for Ten years service
Status Still current in New Zealand
Clasps Ten years additional service
Post-nominals AE (officers only)
Established 1942
First awarded 1942
Order of wear
Next (higher) Royal Naval Auxiliary Service Medal
Next (lower) Volunteer Reserves Service Medal

Ribbon bar

The Air Efficiency Award, post-nominal letters AE for officers, was instituted in 1942. It could be awarded after ten years of meritorious service to part-time officers, airmen and airwomen in the Auxiliary and Volunteer Air Forces of the United Kingdom and the Territorial Air Forces and Air Force Reserves of the Dominions, the Indian Empire, Burma, the Colonies and Protectorates.[1][2][3]

The award of the decoration was discontinued in the United Kingdom on 1 April 1999, when it was superseded by the Volunteer Reserves Service Medal. The decoration is still being awarded in New Zealand, but between 1951 and 1975 it was superseded by local awards in other Dominions.[2][4]


The Air Efficiency Award was instituted by Royal Warrant on 17 August 1942 as a long service award for part-time Auxiliary and Volunteer Air Force officers, airmen and airwomen in the United Kingdom, the Indian Empire, Burma, the British Colonies and Protectorates and those British Dominions whose governments desired to make use of the award. A clasp to the Award was subsequently instituted.[1][8]

Since, at the time, the Air Efficiency Award was unique, being a decoration which could be conferred on officers and other ranks alike in recognition of the unique relationship between the officers and men of an aircraft crew, recipients were initially not granted the right to use post-nominal letters. The use of the post-nominal letters "AE" was only approved at some date between 27 October 1964 and 28 October 1982, and only in respect of officer recipients.[9][10][11]

Several Dominions adopted the Air Efficiency Award.

The first conferments of the Air Efficiency Award were announced in the press on 25 December 1942.[16]

Award criteria

The period of reckoned service required to qualify for the award was ten years, of which at least five years of actual service had to have been in an Auxiliary or Volunteer Air Force of the United Kingdom or the Dominions, Colonies, Protectorates, India or Burma. The award could also be made to any Princes or Princesses of the Blood Royal.[1][3][8]

The period of reckoned service required to qualify for the award of the clasp was a further ten years, subject to the same conditions as for the award of the medal. Further clasps could be awarded upon completion of each additional ten years of qualifying service.[3][8][17]

For those airmen and airwomen whose service commenced before 3 September 1939, the time served was reckoned as time-and-a-half. Service on flying duties with the Royal Air Force or any other Commonwealth Air Force during the Second World War between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945 was reckoned as treble time. Service on other than flying duties was normally reckoned as single time, but while embodied within the Royal Air Force or any Commonwealth Air Force during the Second World War, such service was reckoned as double time.[3][17]

For service which commenced after 1 December 1948, service in a flying category was reckoned as time-and-a-half, while service in other than a flying category was reckoned as single time.[17]

Order of wear

In the order of wear prescribed by the British Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, the Air Efficiency Award takes precedence after the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service Medal and before the Volunteer Reserves Service Medal.[18]

South Africa

With effect from 6 April 1952, when a new South African set of decorations and medals was instituted to replace the British awards used to date, the older British decorations and medals which were applicable to South Africa continued to be worn in the same order of precedence but, with the exception of the Victoria Cross, took precedence after all South African decorations and medals awarded to South Africans on or after that date. Of the official British medals which were applicable to South Africans, the Air Efficiency Award takes precedence as shown.[18][19][20]


The medal was struck in silver and is oval, 38 millimetres (1.5 inches) high and 32 millimetres (1.26 inches) wide, with a raised rim on each side. It is suspended from a silver bar in the form of an eagle in flight, looking towards its left, affixed to the medal by means of a single-toe claw and a pin through the upper edge of the medal.[13][21][22]

Second King George V version
Second Queen Elizabeth II version

The obverse bears the uncrowned effigy of the reigning monarch. Four versions of the medal have been awarded.[8][22]


The reverse is smooth and is inscribed "AIR EFFICIENCY AWARD" in three lines.[13][21][22]


The clasp was struck in silver and bore an eagle with outstretched wings, surmounted by a crown.[8][22]


The ribbon is 38 millimetres wide, with a 13½ millimetres wide dark green band and a 4 millimetres wide pale blue band, repeated in reverse order and separated by a 3 millimetres wide dark green band.[1][13][21][22]


In the United Kingdom and some countries of the Commonwealth, the Air Efficiency Award was gradually superseded by new medals.[4][27]

New Zealand continues to award the Air Efficiency Award.[2]


  1. 1 2 3 4 The London Gazette: no. 35699. p. 3961. 11 September 1942. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 New Zealand Defence Force - New Zealand Long Service and Good Conduct Medals - The Air Efficiency Award (Accessed 2 August 2015)
  3. 1 2 3 4 WW2 - Air Efficiency Award (AE) (Accessed 3 August 2015)
  4. 1 2 3 Defence and Armed Forces - Guidance - Medals: campaigns, descriptions and eligibility - Volunteer Reserves Service Medal (Accessed 3 August 2015)
  5. 1 2 3 McCreery, Christopher (2011). The Canadian Forces' Decoration (PDF). Ottawa: Directorate of Honours and Recognition National Defence Headquarters. pp. 13–14, Long Service Recognition Eligibility Timeline. (Accessed 26 May 2015)
  6. 1 2 South African Medal Website - SA Defence Force : 1952-1975 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  7. 1 2 3 Medals of Service - Air Efficiency Award Miniature (Accessed 2 August 2015)
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 New Zealand Defence Force - The Air Efficiency Award Royal Warrant - Amendment dated 12 April 1951 (Accessed 2 August 2015)
  9. TheyWorkForYou - Air Efficiency Award - Oral Answers to Questions - Royal Air Force - In the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th October 1942 (Accessed 3 August 2015)
  10. The London Gazette: no. 43474. p. 9123. 27 October 1964 (Accessed on 3 August 2015)
  11. The London Gazette: no. 49522. pp. 14201-14202. 28 October 1983 (Accessed on 3 August 2015)
  12. National Defence and the Canadian Forces - Obsolete Long Service Awards - Royal Canadian Air Force Auxiliary and Auxiliary Active Air Force (Accessed on 3 August 2015)
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Veterans Affairs Canada - Air Efficiency Award (Accessed 3 August 2015)
  14. Profile of a Research Project: The Medal Publications of the South African National Museum of Military History. Dr Stanley Monick, curator of medals and numismatics of the South African National Museum of Military History (c. 1991). pp. 36-37 (Accessed 2 August 2015)
  15. South African Medal Website - Union Defence Forces (1939-52) (Accessed 2 August 2015)
  16. Trove Digitised newspapers and more - Air Efficiency Award - The First Recipients (Accessed 3 August 2015)
  17. 1 2 3 New Zealand Defence Force - The Air Efficiency Award Regulations 1954
  18. 1 2 The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56878. p. 3353. 17 March 2003.
  19. 1 2 South African Government Notice no. 1982 of 1 October 1954 - Order of Precedence of Orders, Decorations and Medals, published in the South African Government Gazette of 1 October 1954.
  20. Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 477, no. 27376, Pretoria, 11 March 2005, OCLC 72827981
  21. 1 2 3 4 Imperial War Museums - Air Efficiency Award (Accessed 3 August 2015)
  22. 1 2 3 4 5 Birkenhead Returned Services Association - Military Medals - The Air Efficiency Award (Accessed 3 August 2015)
  23. The Royal Mint Museum - The portrait of George VI (Accessed 11 June 2015)
  24. 1 2 3 4 - DNW Online Auction, 25 February 2015 - Lot 281 (Accessed 4 August 2015)
  25. Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain & Ireland 1851-1951 - Mrs Mary Gaskell Gillick OBE (Accessed 12 June 2015)
  26. 1 2 FindLots Online - Lot #92 - Air Efficiency Award - Elizabeth II, type 2 (Accessed 4 August 2015)
  27. 1 2 Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation - Medals - Air Efficiency Award and Volunteer Reserves Service Medal (Accessed on 3 August 2015)
  28. Veterans Affairs Canada - Canadian Forces Decoration (CD) (Accessed 18 July 2015)
  29. Alexander, EGM; Barron, GKB; Bateman, AJ (1986). South African Orders, Decorations and Medals. Cape Town: Human and Rousseau Publishers. p. 160. ISBN 0-7981-1895-4.
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