1. British Windward Islands, 1903-1958

    It seems like the original intention behind the badge of the British Windward Islands was to have a shield with four quarters for Barbados, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and Grenada. But for whatever reason this was never done and the colony was left with basically a blank shield. 

     
  2. Victory Banner #5, 1945

    Although this banner is most commonly associated with Victory Day celebrations, it was actually hoisted over the Reichstag on April 30th. There were nine Victory Banners, but this was the only one that survived the war.

    The inscription says: “150th Rifle, Order of Kutuzov 2nd class, Idritsa Division, 79th Rifle Corps, 3rd Shock Army, 1st Byelorussian Front.”

     
  3. President of Zambia

    Orange is hardly a common flag colour, but Zambia’s never been one for traditional colour schemes. The African Fish Eagle in the crest is the same as the one on the national flag. Before independence it was on the shield in a blue compartment, grasping a dead fish.

    There’s a decent photo of the flag in flight here.

     
  4. Swaziland, since 1967

    Swaziland’s flag is said to be based on one presented to the Swazi Pioneer Corps in 1941, but sadly I’ve never been able to find a picture of the original one.

     
  5. United States Secret Service

    Eh, I don’t know how secret you can be when you’re walking around flying a giant flag with the word “SECRET” on it.

     
  6. Gold Coast, 1877-1957
    Sierra Leone, 1889-1914
    The Gambia, 1889-1965

    The British were not the most inventive flag designers in the world

     
  7. Araucania

    The tricolour on Araucania’s current flag [top] may be unremarkable, but that coat of arms is damn slick. This proposal from around 2006 [bottom] on the other hand just looks kind of sickly.

     
  8. Jaffna (spurious)

    Wikipedia, in typical Wikipedia fashion, incorrectly identifies this as the flag of the Jaffna kingdom, a Tamil state on Sri Lanka that was conquered by the Portuguese in the early seventeenth-century. In fact, this is a modern flag used by a pretender with a dubious claim to that non-existent throne who lives in the Netherlands and is most well-known for appearing on some dumb British reality show.

     
  9. Combined Logistics Command of the Republic of China, 1973-2012

    I have to say, if I was China I would be very concerned about a possible Taiwanese flying camel invasion right about now.

     
  10. Pitcairn Islands, since 1984

    On 23 January 1790, the HMS Bounty was burned by its former crew off the shores of Pitcairn Island. Nearly two centuries later, the island got its first official flag on the standard British model. The coat of arms has the ship’s anchor and bible on it.

    With a population of around 50, Pitcairn is the least populated of Britain’s remaining overseas territories. Even the British Antarctic Territory has more people during the summer.

     
  11. Colunga, since 2012

    Nothing to say about this flag except that I like it. Spanish municipalities killing it lately on the vexillology front.

     
  12. Panama, 1858-1861

    Panama tried to break away from Colombia several times in the 19th century. After an uprising in 1855, the Republic of New Granada (as Colombia was called back then) tried to appease the rebels by making an autonomous state on the isthmus. In 1858, New Granada became a federal republic called the Granadine Confederation, and each of the country’s eight states was given its own flag. Although “own” might be a bit of an exaggeration, since they were all nearly identical. The design was the Confederation’s red-blue-yellow vertical tricolour with the national coat of arms on a white oval in the centre. Around the oval was a red band, which had the country’s name on top and the state’s name on the bottom.

    The Granadine Confederation quickly fell into civil war. The rebel liberal general Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera entered Bogota in 1861 and overthrew the sitting conservative government, changing the country’s name to the United States of Colombia and adopting a new coat of arms and flag. Panama’s flag changed accordingly. Finally, with the adoption of a unitary constitution in 1886, the state of Panama became just another province.

     
  13. France (royal ensign), 1814-1815, 1815-1830

    The Bourbon Restoration left something to be desired as far as national symbols went. The royals had their fancy fleur-de-lis-spangled banners and whatnot, but the national flag was a plain white sheet with nothing on it. I mean, come on. Would you want to fly that? The July Revolution of 1830 saw the permanent restoration of the Tricolore.

     
  14. Uganda, 1914-1962

    The Grey Crowned Crane has graced Uganda’s flag since the colonial era. It was chosen as a badge by governor Frederick J. Jackson, no doubt because of his enthusiasm for ornithology and game hunting. After his retirement he devoted himself to writing about the birds of Kenya and Uganda, publishing his first book in 1926 and dying before he could finish the second.

    (designer: Sir Frederick John Jackson)

     
  15. Coquimbo

    The Union Jack has worked its way onto a lot of flags over the years, but I wouldn’t have expected to see it in Chile. Apparently, gold and copper mining around Coquimbo attracted a fair number of English immigrants in the mid-19th century, and they made enough of an impact to get a place on the city’s coat of arms.