In 1950, General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, USAF Chief of Staff, directed that enlisted personnel were to be called airmen instead of soldiers. In December 1952, he approved a new design for Airman First, Second, and Third Class chevrons to be produced when current stocks were depleted. (This was not expected to occur until June 1955.) The reason for the design change in the three lower enlisted rank chevrons (from upward curving bars to straight) was to distinguish the non-commissioned officer ranks from the lower ranks. At this time there were only three non-commissioned ranks–Staff Sergeant (four stripes), Technical Sergeant (five stripes), and Master Sergeant (six stripes).
In 1956, General Nathan F. Twining became USAF Chief of Staff. When approval to make the design change was submitted to him, he replied in a short, informal memo, “No change to be made in insignia.”
Although the new chevron was never used, some of the stock that was manufactured are still being found today.
Shown here is an Airman Third Class chevron.