The Distinguished Flying Cross

The Distinguished Flying Cross Bar

The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) is the fifth in precendence military decoration awarded to officers, and since 1993 to other ranks, of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy"

The award was established on 3 June 1918, shortly after the formation of the Royal Air Force (RAF), with the Royal Warrant published on 5 December 1919. It was originally awarded to RAF commissioned and warrant officers, including officers in Commonwealth and allied forces. In March 1941 eligibility was extended to Naval Officers of the Fleet Air Arm, and in November 1942 to Army officers, including Royal Artillery officers serving on attachment to the RAF as pilots-cum-artillery observers. Posthumous awards were permitted from 1979.

Since the 1993 review of the honours system as part of the drive to remove distinctions of rank in bravery awards, all ranks of all arms of the Armed Forces have been eligible, and the Distinguished Flying Medal, which had until then been awarded to other ranks, was discontinued. While remaining a reward for "flying in active operations against the enemy", the requirement was changed from "valour, courage or devotion to duty" to "exemplary gallantry".

Recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "DFC".

A bar is added to the ribbon for holders of the DFC who received a second award. The bar has an eagle in the centre and the year of the award is engraved on the reverse.


A Cross flory terminated in the horizontal and basebars with bombs, the upper bar terminating with a rose, surmounted by another cross composed of aeroplane propellers charged in the centre with a roundel within a wreath of laurels a rose winged ensigned by an Imperial Crown thereon the letters R.A.F. and attached to the clasp and ribbon by two sprigs of laurel.


The Royal Cypher above the date 1918. Since 1939, the year of award has usually been recorded on the reverse side of the lower arm.


55mm across the arms of the cross.


28mm wide, the ribbon is red with 5mm wide dark blue stripes at each edge. and white.


By an ornate suspender bar, through the bottom of which passes a ring, attaching the suspender bar to an eyelet attached to the upper arm of the cross.

Royal Warrant For This Award

From 1918 to 2017 approximately 22,322 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 1,737 bars have been awarded.
The number awarded to 1979 reflects the relevant entries in the London Gazette:
  1. World War I (1914–1919) - 1,045 crosses, 62 first bars, and 3 second bars.
  2. Inter–War (1919–1939) - 165 crosses, 26 first bars, and 4 second bars.
  3. World War II (1939–1946 ) - 20,354 crosses, 1,550 first bars, and 42 second bars.
  4. Post–War Post–War (1947–1979) 678 crosses, 42 first bars, and 5 second bars.
Thus, a total of 22,242 crosses, 1,680 first bars, 54 second bars were awarded between inception and 1979 alone. Between 1980 and 2017, approximately 80 DFCs were earned, including awards for the Falklands and the wars in the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, two second-award, and one third-award bar were been awarded. In 2008, Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman became the first woman to receive the DFC.

Awards to New Zealanders have been 1,015 Crosses, eighty four first bars and four second bars to members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, or New Zealanders serving with allied forces, during the Second World War, one Cross to a member of the Royal New Zealand Navy during the Second World War, two Crosses to New Zealanders serving with allied forces during the Korean War, four Crosses to a member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, or New Zealanders serving with allied forces, during the Malayan confrontation, eight Crosses to a member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, or New Zealanders serving with allied forces, during the Vietnam War and one Cross to members of the New Zealand Army during the Vietnam War. In 1999 the DFC was replaced by the New Zealand Gallantry Decoration.