Lancaster, California
William Reid, (standing) with his instructor at No. 2 BFTS - War Eagle Field,
Polaris Flight Academy, Lancaster California, December, 1941

Photo: Stearman, A Pictorial History by Jim Avis and Martin Bowman

Best viewed at a resolution of 800 x 600.

All the information on this page was taken fromThe Stearman Guidebook
by Mitch Mayborn and Peter M. Bowers

Page -2-

US National Markings

StarsKaydet Star

From 1919 until the end of May, 1942 the national marking for US military aircraft was a white star on a blue circle, with a smaller red circle in the center. This was applied in four places on the wings. Location changes were made to camouflaged airplanes in early 1941, but this did not affect uncamouflaged types until early 1943. At that time, one star was removed from the upper right wing and one from the lower left, and one was added to each side of the fuselage. Many Kaydets, however, although deleting one wing star, finished the war without fuselage stars.

At the end of May 1942, the red circle was removed from the insignia because of its resemblance to the Japanese "Meatball" marking.

In July, 1943 a white rectangle equal in length of the basic blue circle and half the height was added to each side of the circle and the whole was surrounded with a red border. The red border was changed to blue in August, 1943 and remains in use today. The only subsequent change has been the addition of a red strip through the middle of the rectangle.

Tail Stripes

Only Army Kaydets carried tail stripes; these were in the unique "American Flag" arrangement invented by Boeing Chief Engineer C.N. Monteith and adopted by the Army in November, 1926. The Army tail stripes were deleted from camouflaged types in 1941 and from all uncamouflaged types when the red star centers were abolished.

All of this led to some marking oddities on blue and yellow Kaydets in service. Whoever wrote the directive removing the stripes goofed; it said to repaint the rudder the same color as the upper fuselage. This was all right for the silver planes but someone forgot about the large number of old blue and yellow types still operating.

Identification Markings


From the mid 1920's Army planes carried the large letters, "US ARMY" across the lower wing surface. This was deleted in May, 1942 along with the red star center and the tail stripes. However, there was less urgency with the lettering than with the insignia, so it remained under the wings of quite a few non-combat airplanes for a year or more. In addition to the wing lettering, Army planes since 1932, have carried a data block on the left side of the fuselage near the cockpit that identifies them as to Army model and serial number.


All Navy Kaydets carried the Navy serial number in standardized size (3 inch figures) and location on each side of the vertical fin to the end of World War II. The model designation appeared on the rudder in line with the serial. After the war, the serial, model designation, and Navy were all reduced in size and located on the fuselage under the leading edge of the stablizer. However, this found little application on Kadets which were soon out of the service.

Unit Markings

Since the Kaydets of both services were primary trainers, they were usually used in large numbers at established schools and were marked only by large numbers on the fuselage that distinguished them from others on that field. These numbers were frequently repeated in smaller figures on the engine accessory section of the cowling. There were no markings to distinguish the trainers of one school from those of another. Single trainers assigned toother types of organization frequently carried the markings of that particular unit and will not be discussed here.

Page 1 Kaydet Images