flag terminology A flag is a piece of fabric (most often rectangular or quadrilateral A quadrilateral is a polygon in Euclidean geometry, Euclidean plane geometry with four Edge (geometry), edges (sides) and four Vertex (geometry), vertices (corners). Other ...
, a swallowtail is either # a V-shaped cut in a flag that causes the flag to end in two points at the fly; or # any flag that has this V-shaped cut. The name comes from the forked tail that is a common feature of the
swallow The swallows, martins, and saw-wings, or Hirundinidae, are a family of passerine bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the Ovi ...
species of birds. __NOTOC__



Common in the
Nordic countries The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region in Northern Europe Northern Europe is a loosely defined Geography, geographical and cultural region in Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe ...
, this swallowtail flag contains a vertical section in the centre of the fly.

Swallowtail with tongue

Also common in the Nordic countries, the swallowtail flag contains a third tail (the "tongue") between the other two tails.

Triangular swallowtail

The triangular swallowtail is the shape of the flag of the American state of
Ohio Ohio is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. Of the List of states and territories of the United States, fifty states, it is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 34th-largest ...
, as well as of some burgees, private signals and pennants of the
International Code of Signals The International Code of Signals (ICS) is an international system of signals and codes for use by Marine vessel, vessels to communicate important messages regarding safety of navigation and related matters. Signals can be sent by Flaghoist signa ...


A guidon is the general name given to a small swallowtail flag. Guidons are used to represent military units and are displayed on vehicles attached to a particular unit. In some countries (such as the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., federal di ...
), guidons do not necessarily have a swallow tail. The military use of the guidon originated from the flags used by
cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms, operating as li ...
units in Europe. A variant of the guidon, the
hussar File:Winged hussar, historical reconstruction.jpg, A historical reenactment of a Poles, Polish Winged Hussar, 2013 A hussar ( , ; hu, huszár, pl, huzar, hr, husar, sr-lat, Husar, sr-cyr, Хусар) was a member of a class of light cavalr ...

cut, was used by German cavalry regiments. Instead of a straight V-shaped cut, the swallowtail in a hussar cut flag is curved. {{gallery, width=120, height=120, noborder=yes, whitebg=no , File:US Cav 35.svg, Guidon of the USA 7th Cavalry Regiment (19th century) , File:Prussian standard.jpg,
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a historically prominent Germans, German state that originated in 1525 with Duchy of Prussia, a duchy centered on the Prussia (region), region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Balt ...
n cavalry standard with hussar cut (18th century) Types of flags