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Hungary - Air Force

Magyar Légierő

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: hungary | air force |
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by Željko Heimer, 2 November 2001

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The first markings reported by this site are Austria-Hungary period. From Insignia of the Hungarian Air Force from the WWI until the present: "During the WWI a/c wore the black Cross Patee (later Balkan Cross) on white and red-white-red strips on the wing tips and the tail (on tail with the coat of arms for the Navy). No particular official Hungarian insignia was used in that time. The only exception was a proposed new Navy ensign, with an old Hungarian coat of arms added to the Austrian shield on the mid white strip on the tail (1915). Never made official, it appeared however on some of the large flying boats. Considering personal markings, Béla Macourek, CO of Flik 17, had red-white- green strips on the fuselage of his Aviatik DI, nr 338.02." (Image 1 at this page).
First markings belonged to Hungarian Soviet Republic, 1918-1919 - we report three separate marking to this era and show two of them as also done by [c2e98] - the missing one is white star on red panel. The site report too:" By the decree (March 24, 1919) a/c of the Red AF were marked with red-white-green arrows of equal sides, painted on the fuselage and the wings. Red stars appeared on Apr 25, 1919. First as the well known red star in a white square, on wings, fuselage and rudder. Later on camouflage squares were deleted and stars got thin outlines "
In 1931, Exercise Markings were used: "During secret exercises in summer 1931 (crypt. "Csaba"), as a temporary military insignia a double (St Stephen's) cross was adopted, painted on the tricolor (7). Next year in the autumn, during another exercise (crypt. "Sólyom" - "Hawk"), a roundel was used, with green double cross on a white background in red outer ring, painted on wings and fuselage. The tail wore the Hungarian tricolor. It was also planned for "Alert" mobilization, actually it was later never used. " (see Exercise Markings 1931)
Our site also reports Exercise Markings 1932: "green St. Stephen's cross on a white roundel surrounded by a red outer ring" but the website don't.
On 1 January 1939, Honvéd Légierő - became an independent branch of the Armed Forces (Honvédség) and adopted aircraft markings: "As the first insignia red-white-green chevron was chosen (red outermost), with standard proportions (heigth:base=2:1), painted on wings and tail (decree of the Secretary of Defence, Aug 23, 1938, nr 30.418/1938). Measured along the chevron base (b), the width of the red strip was b/8, and the base of the green triangle b/4. On the lower/upper surfaces its place was in the distance 1/7th of the wing's span from the wingtip, on the tail at the mid height over the tail planes, with vertex in the direction of flight. On a/c with multiple tails the chevron was painted on the external surfaces of the outermost rudders." (See images 16-19 at this page (same at [cos98]) which means that the image at Honvéd Légierő 1938-41 is incorrect concerning its ratios.
A new roundel was introduced in 1941 (Proposed Markings 1941 and Honvéd Légierő 1941-45) as described by the website: "After the declaration of war against Soviet Union it turned out that visibility of chevron was poor and many times German pilots shot at the Hungarian. In addition, the German pressed for the unified insignia for all of the Axis powers. For Hungary they even proposed to reintroduce the Cross Patee. General Staff of the RHAF, on the other hand, proposed insignia of white cross framed in black in a green square framed red (decree nr 59.120/ 1941). Experiments shown that in this form colors are difficult to be recognized. Insignia was proposed by the AF Command. It differed from the German ones at least in the inversion of colors. As the purposeful emphasis of the nationality both the General Staff and the AF Command proposed the tricolor on the tail planes. The dimensions were only approximate, and had to be defined for each a/c type. The new insignia had been finally approved by Mar 12, 1942 as a white cross on a black square, on wings and fuselage, and a tricolor on the tail with the red innermost on tail planes (decree nr 142.415/1942), See images at this page and this page, also see <> and <>.
Variants appear in 1944 (Honvéd Légierő 1944) as seen in images 37-40 and 64 at this page.
After WWII , military flying was banned until 1948 and forming of Hungarian People's Army air wing. New roundel was introduced (1948-49 ): "The first official markings (of the Hungarian People's Army) were described by a decree (Apr 14, 1948, Honvédségi Közlöny, 1948, nr 12) as a red roundel with a white triangle inscribed, and a green circle inscribed into the triangle, and tricolor on the tail planes. The roundel was painted on upper and lower wings, its center in 1/6th of the wing span, measured from the wingtip. Diameter of the roundel was half of the wing chord in that place."
This roundel was replace a year afterwards by a new one (1949-51) "Insignia and markings introduced in 1948 have been changed by the Army Command on Nov 15, 1949. The insignia were almost the same as that of Lebanon, on the other hand, the Command wanted to express the shift in political power by introduction of the red star. The modifying decree appeared in the Honvédségi Közlöny 1949, nr 34. The new insignia were a red star inscribed into a ring of national tricolor, painted on upper and lower wings, fuselage and tail. The outer diameter of the ring, for small a/c, was 60 cm, for medium ones 80 cm and for large ones 100 cm (with the inner diameter of the ring 40-60-80 cm respectively). The 20 cm ring was divided into equally wide red-white-green strips, red the outermost. Register numbers were painted 10 cm under the tail planes, ending with its starting edge, within a 10 cm x 31 cm rectangle."
Two years more, and in 1951 a new roundel was introduced (1951-90): "The final version of the star was decided on June 16, 1951, when the red star was introduced, with an inscribed white and green circle. shows an early or mispainted (?) form of this insignia. The dimensions of the star were the same as those of the ring insignia (diameter of 60-80-100 cm). The diameter of the inscribed white circle was 20-27-33 cm, that of the green circle 10-14-17 cm respectively. The star had 1 cm wide white border and was painted on the wings, fuselage and tail." (Photo at <>), "During the Hungarian Revolution in the October-November 1956 a temporary insignia in the form of a rectangle with the national tricolor were painted on some a/c in place of the stars. There are also known photos of the a/c bearing national tricolor in a triangular shape (Jak-11 trainer), or even chevron-like insignia "
End of Communist era in 1990 brought to the adoption on new roundel to the new Magyar Légierő (Hungarian Air Force 1990): "During the visit of the papal legate in the autumn 1990 the formation of 3 Mi-8S helicopters was detached for his use. A temporary chevron-like roundel was painted on these a/c, in the normal positions on back fuselage and belly. These helicopters were also used for liaison purposes in time of the first independent elections. In the newspapers the return of the chevron was officially announced, however nothing more did appeared on the a/c. Those helicopters were also visible during the taxi drivers' blockade, in 1990, and temporary insignia were visible also on the tail on MiG-21 PFM, photographed in the Pápa AB". Photo at <>.
The current marking were adopted a year later: "The long due break with the red star and the reinstallation of a more national insignia had happened finally in the beginning of 1991 (master patterns prepared by Jan 31, 1991, painting work to be finished by Mar 31, 1991). The form and the position of the new insignia were regulated by the Chief AF Commander's order (no 12/1991). The new insignia are in the form of triangle, containing the national tricolor and with a 1 cm white border. The height of the triangle is two times the triangle base. Along its sides there are red and white strips, of the width of 1/6th of the triangle base. The remaining area of the triangle is green. The height of the triangle (without white border) is 800 mm. The insignia are painted on the particular a/c types in places specified by the decree, in such a way, that the vertex of the triangle points toward the direction of flight, the axis of the triangle is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the a/c. Insignia are painted on the upper and lower surfaces of the wings. On the a/c with adjustable wing angle the insignia are painted in 45o wing position in case of Mig-23 and in 63o wing position in case of Su-22."
Photos at <> and <
Dov Gutterman, 17 June 2004

The 1915 naval ensign used as fin flash is mentioned also by Baumgartner 1977 [bmg77]. The naval aircrafts of the type G (meaning "Grossflugzeug") are reported in 1916 painted with the new naval ensign on the fin. I may nitpicklingly note that the "proposed new Navy ensign" mentioned above is not quite correct - the new 1915 ensign was not proposed, it was actually adopted. It was only due to the war conditions that its introduction in the Navy was never implemented. The use of the flag painted on the aircraft was actually one of the rare occasions it was used - other occasions are the propaganda leaflets and souvenir sheets supporting the war effort almost exclusivly after 1916.
Željko Heimer, 17 June 2004

Red Hungarian Air Corps 1919

by Ferenc Gy. Valoczy, 2 July 2003

by Ferenc Gy. Valoczy, 2 July 2003

The Red Hungarian Air Corps (Vörös Légjárócsapat) was formed in March 1919, and carried three styles of national insignia. The first, consisting of (from the earliest) red/white/green chevrons on the wings, was soon superseded by a red star on white square. A variation existed on this style, where a white star was placed on a red square on a Fokker D.VII. Later camouflaged aircraft used a red star with a fine white outline.
Representative types: Chevrons Aviatik Berg D.I; red star/white square Fokker (MAG) D.VII, UFAG C.I, Hansa Brandenburg C.I; red star/white outline Phnix C.I.

The Clandestine Years 1920-28

The prohibition of military aviation by the Allied Control Commission meant that any air force activity had to be carried out under civilian cover. Military aircraft carried registration letters and numbers up to 1923. From 1924 until 1937 military aircraft carried standard registrations in the style of H-Mxxx. The Hungarian flag was used on the tails of aircraft from 1931. Hungarian civil registrations changed to the HA-xxx form in 1933. By 1934, the registrations were becoming smaller, and large code letters began to make an appearance on the fuselage sides. Individual squadron badges also began to be used.
Representative types: Hansa Brandenburg B.I, Udet U12, Bcker Bu 131, Fokker C.V, Heinkel He 46, Junkers Ju 52/3mg, Junkers Ju 86K, Fiat Cr-20, Fiat Cr-32, Fiat BR 2, Focke-Wulf Fw 56 Stsser, Focke-Wulf Fw 58 Weihe, Messerschmitt Bf 108B Taifun.

Exercise Markings 1931

During secret military exercises in the summer of 1931, a Black St. Stephen's cross was painted over a square tricolour (colours, from top, were red, white and green). This appeared on aircraft fuselages. Rudder striping was also carried.
Representative types: WM-Fokker CVD.

Exercise Markings 1932

Further secret military exercises in the autumn of 1932 saw the appearance of a roundel that consisted of a green St. Stephen's cross on a white roundel surrounded by a red outer ring. This appeared on wings and fuselage. Rudder striping was also carried. This marking was to be used in case of a mobilisation for war, but in the event was not needed.
Representative types: WM-Fokker CVD.

Honvéd Légierő 1938-41

by Željko Heimer, 2 November 2001

The overt emergence of the Hungarian Air Force led to the re-introduction of the red/white/green chevron insignia. This took the form of a triangle in the ratio of 2:1. This was applied to both wing and tail surfaces. The chevron pointed in the direction of flight. A camouflage finish was in use on most aircraft by the time Hungarian forces occupied parts of Slovakia in 1938.
Representative types: Reggiane Re 2000, Fiat Cr-32, Fiat Cr-42, Heinkel He 70K, Heinkel He 112, Heinkel He 46E-2, Focke-Wulf Fw 56 Stsser, Savoia-Marchetti SM 75, Caproni Ca 135bis, Focke-Wulf Fw 58, Weiss Manfred WM 21.

Proposed Markings 1941

As an ally of Germany, Hungarian aircraft carried yellow bands on the cowling, wing tips and fuselage. After the invasion of the Soviet Union, it was discovered that the visibility of the chevron was poor, and many Hungarian aircraft were attacked by their German allies. Germany pressed for a unified insignia for all Axis countries, but this was resisted. The Hungarian General staff suggested a black-edged white cross on a green square outlined in red. Experiments showed that this did not solve the visibility problem.

Honvéd Légierő 1941-45

by Ferenc Gy. Valoczy, 2 July 2003

In late 1941/early 1942 a revised Hungarian insignia was agreed. This consisted of a black square with white cross, to be carried on the wings and fuselage of all Hungarian aircraft. The Hungarian tricolour was to be applied on both the fin/rudder and horizontal tailplanes. From 1944, many aircraft dispensed with the tail tricolour markings. The white in the cross was sometimes painted over in grey to reduce visibility.
Representative types: Messerschmitt Bf 109 (included variants from D-1 up to G-14), Messerschmitt Bf 110G, Messerschmitt Me 210C, Reggiane Re 2000, Fiat CR 42, Focke-Wulf Fw 190F-8, Junkers Ju 87B-2, Junkers Ju 86K-2, Caproni Ca 101, Focke-Wulf Fw 58, Caproni Ca 135bis, Heinkel He 111P-2, Fiat G.12, Arado Ar 96A & B, Focke-Wulf Fw 56 Stsser, Dornier Do 17K, Dornier Do 215B-4.

Honvéd Légierő 1942-43

Some aircraft on the Eastern Front did not receive full details of the new national insignia, and retained German markings, their Hungarian nationality only being denoted by the tricolour on their fin/rudder.
Representative types: Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4B.

Honvéd Légierő 1944

by Ferenc Gy. Valoczy, 2 July 2003

A variation of the white cross/black square was carried by several German types due to a misinterpretation of the regulations.
Representative types: Focke-Wulf Fw 189A-1, Messerschmitt Bf 109.


by Ferenc Gy. Valoczy, 2 July 2003

After WW2, military flying in Hungary was prohibited until June 1947. The Hungarian Peoples Army introduced the next marking, a red roundel with a white triangle and green centre circle.
Representative types: Arado Ar 96A & B/Avia C-2, Fieseler Fi 156 Strch, UT-2.


by Ferenc Gy. Valoczy, 2 July 2003

To better reflect Hungary's communist government, the national insignia was changed to a red star on a roundel, of which the colours were (from outside) red, white, green and white. This marking was also used on the tail, thus dispensing with the tricolour flag.
Representative types: Arado Ar 96A & B/Avia C-2, Zlin Z 381 Fecske.


by Ferenc Gy. Valoczy, 2 July 2003

To avoid confusion with the Yugoslav national insignia, the national markings were changed yet again. A white-outlined red star with white and green circles inscribed would survive until 1990.
Representative types: Yak-9P, Ilyushin Il-2, Ilyushin Il-10, Mil Mi-4, Mil Mi-8, Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-15, Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21.

The Hungarian Revolution 1956

Rebel forces in the Hungarian uprising of October 1956 had the use of some aircraft, and various types of marking were used. These were usually hastily applied and many have not been documented.
Representative types: Type 1 Mil Mi-4A; Type 2 Jak-11 lyv (Buzzard); Type 3 Aero 45 Kócsag (Egret); Type 4 Daru II.

Hungarian Air Force 1990

by Ferenc Gy. Valoczy, 2 July 2003

The end of communism in Hungary led to the re-introduction of more traditional markings. A roundel within which was inscribed the Hungarian chevron was used during 1990 as an interim insignia.
Representative types: Mil Mi-8S, Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21PFM.

Hungarian Air Force from 1991

The chevron mark has now been formally re-introduced as the Hungarian Air Force marking. The chevron is, as before, based upon a 2:1 ration triangle. The width of the red and white stripes are one sixth of the triangles base. The marking is surrounded by a 1 cm White border. Stencilling marks are often visible on this border when the marking is applied.
Representative types: Mil Mi-8S, Mil Mi-24, Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21PFM, Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-29 & MiG-29UB.

According to Album 2000 [pay00] - Aircraft marking - Triangular marking (as a note explains with point always turned towards front) of red-white-green "arowheads".
Željko Heimer, 2 November 2001

Useful Further References

The Hungarian Air Forces 1920-1945 by Srhidai, Punka & Kozlik, Hikoki 1996.
Small Air Forces Observer, No. 75.

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