The Insignia and Markings of 2 Squadron Australian Flying Corps
Markings and Insignia : 21st of September 1917 - 6th December 1917
2 Squadron Australian Flying Corps initially flew the Airco DH5, predominantly in the ground attack role. Previous to the squadron being operational, they worked up to strength in DH5s at Harlaxton in England. The DH5s at Harlaxton were PC.10 on upper surfaces and CDL on lower surfaces. Several of the DH'5's at Harlaxton were presentation aircraft bearing their presentation markings on the side of the nose. Not all the DH5s used by the squadron in England made the trip to France. In France the squadron marking was a thin white stripe at the very rear of the fuselage and fore of the tail surfaces.
From research into the Squadron Records of 2 Squadron Australian Flying Corps done by Gordon Branch the flight markings of the squadron in the first three weeks of their time in France was, sorted by Flight, Flight Marking, Serial and Pilot name;
The Airco DH5 depicted above is the aircraft flown by Lieutenant McKenzie on the 12th of June 1917 on a bombing attack. The flight was engaged by 3 Albatros Scouts of which one got on McKenzie's tail and heavily damaged his aircraft. McKenzie crashed on landing at a forward airfield. The aircraft profiled shows the thin white stripe on the aft of the fuselage and the Z flight marking of C Flight. The flight marking in all photographs seen thus far have the Letter or number aft of the roundal. The profile is taken from a photograph in the Australian War Memorial collection of McKenzie's battered aircraft being brought back to the aerodrome on the back of a cart.
Markings and Insignia : 6th December 1917 - May 1918
On December 6th, 1917 the squadron performed their last mission in the DH.5 and then began to exchange them for SE5a's. The SE5a's were in standard British finish of PC10 on the upper surfaces and CDL on the lower surfaces. SE5a C9539 flown by Captain H.G Forrest shows in a picture where it is turned on it's nose, that the plywood under area's of the aircraft are doped in PC10, and the area from the trailing edge of the wing to the tail skid are in CDL. For this period there are deviations in the underwing and upper wing roundals as well, the photograph of B Flight at Savy in March of 1918 shows one SE5a in the flight to have the roundals in the inner positions. During this period some aircraft of the squadron are also fitted with the geared and ungeared engines. Some access panels on the top of the engine are not painted in a PC10 colour, seemingly in a battleship grey colour.
Of most note of this period in 2 Squadrons history is the boomerang aft of the rudder. Most Royal Flying Corps squadrons at this time were using simple geometric shapes as their squadron marking, a boomerang fitted perfectly as a simple insignia and as a symbol of Australia to fit the Australian Flying Corps. Apparently the impetus for using the Australian image of the boomerang was from Oswald Watt's influence. The flight marking appeared in front of the roundal for A Flight, but it appears that C Flight aircraft of this period had their flight marking aft of the roundal. Though this may not have been a standardisation between flights but a result of where the serial number was painted on the aircraft from the factory.
Above is the SE5a of A Flight. The profile is taken from a photograph which appears in Charles Schaedels "Men and Machines of the Australian Flying Corps 1914 - 1919" of a line up of 2 Sqn aircraft at an advanced landing ground at Bapaume in early 1918.
Markings and Insignia : May 1918 - February 1919
During the German Offensive of May, British Intelligence decided that all squadrons under British operational command should swap their geometric squadron codes with each other in an effort to confuse the enemy. 2 Squadron lost their distinctive boomerang marking to a single white bar fore of the roundal, which rose from the SE5a's lower wing root. The squadron wore this marking until they were demobbed in February of 1919. The aircraft were still in the standard PC10 and CDL finish. Flight Markings were aft of the roundal and in white. Some aircraft, such as E.E Davies aircraft had white wheel covers, from photographs it seems the white wheel covers were isolated to flight commanders.
This profile is taken from a photograph of D/379 and E5765 of A Flight being serviced near Lille in November of 1918. The aircraft in question was flown by E.E Davies for four of his seven victories. Davies claiming a victory on the 1st of November over an LVG.C aircraft and on the 4th of November claiming three victories in this aircraft over an LVG.C and two Fokker DVII's.
Australian Flying Corps : A Complete History of the Australian Flying Corps