Ideally, a logo represents an institution's mission, its accomplishments, and its corporate culture. China Lake's logos evolved over its 50+ years from the typically 1940s cartoon jackrabbit into the familiar "screaming eagle" design that was the most prevalent over China Lake's history. The traditional warbird and its lightning bolts signified striking power, and the fouled anchor maintained China Lake's Navy identification and Fleet orientation. China Lake's corporate symbols also represented both its mission and its points of pride, from the Naval Ordnance Test Station's "secret weapon" origins in World War II to its first high-visibility product, the High-Velocity Aircraft Rocket (HVAR), or "Holy Moses," to the sky-to-sea combination of Sidewinder and torpedo, and finally to the all-air-weapon Sidewinder and Shrike duo. 


The "rocket-ridin' rabbit" was the first logo adopted for the Station; dating from the Station's earliest days, various versions of this popular piece appeared on everything from flight jackets to bars to informal publications.


The eagle astride the HVAR became the Station's first "official" logo and was in use throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s. Although NOTS was actually based at China Lake, the name was officially "NOTS, Inyokern," until June 1950, and "NOTS, Inyokern, China Lake," until March 1955, when the name was changed to "NOTS, China Lake."


The original "screaming eagle" logo was unofficially adopted in the early 1960s and represented both the air-warfare and underwater-ordnance missions of the Station, which then included the NOTS Pasadena Annex. The NOTS variant of the Sidewinder logo appeared in the late 1950s and celebrated the success and fame of the Station's best-known product.


In 1967, NOTS China Lake and the NOTS Pasadena Annex were separated; NOTS China Lake and the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, Corona, were combined to form the Naval Weapons Center. With the 1 July 1967 establishment of NWC, the "screaming eagle" was modified to reflect the new name, the change in the mission to exclude underwater ordnance, and the combination with the Corona activity. The 1971 closing of the Corona facilities was reflected in the next iteration of the now-classic logo; the logo remained the same, with its clouds and mountains, but "Corona" had disappeared.


With the establishment of NWC, the "official" China Lake logo was radically changed to conform with the "NL" design of the activities under the Director of Navy Laboratories. The traditional logo, however, never completely disappeared, and the screaming eagle quietly co-existed with the official NL design.

By the early 1980s, the screaming eagle was making a comeback; it was especially popular with the China Lake military population, as was well evidenced by its appearance on Hangar 3 at Armitage Field. The screaming eagle was re-adopted, with very minor changes, by popular consensus. In 1985, a new design was introduced; a short-lived "modernization" of the screaming eagle design, it was sidelined in favor of maintaining the traditional logo. The latest--and final--NWC version of that traditional design maintained all the elements that made it so popular and so appropriate.


With the 1992 reorganization that resulted in the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) and the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) at China Lake, the traditional NWC logo was adopted by NAWS with only minor changes. The basic logo created for NAWC is shared by the Weapons and Aircraft Divisions.


(Originally prepared for The Rocketeer , China Lake's in-house newspaper, 21 Jan. 1992.)