Projected Air-Crew Badges in the k.u.k. Army

With the introduction of the Feldpilotenabzeichen and even more so with the Luftfahrerabzeichen there were efforts from several sides to also create a unique badge for balloon pilots. No matter whether they operated with captive balloons (Fesselballons) or navigable airships (Luftschiffe), at least for some officers and officials in the war ministry their assignment seemed to be so different and therefore the existing badges appeared insufficient. Although it had been officially decided not to purchase any airships in principle and the necessity of guided balloons - namely as fire-guidance for the artillery - was clearly reduced in modern warfare, very intensive introductory work was done in 1917 and even up to early 1918 for these badges. The following requirements for the award were worked out:

Requirements for Balloon Pilots:

Achievements: 50 ascents with guided balloons against the enemy completing a war related sortie with a minimum duration of one hour each. 7 sorties with free balloons, with two under personal independent control, with one night and one solo trip. For the yearly renewal of the award, 10 fixed-balloon and two free-balloon ascents are mandatory.

Skills: Complete proficiency in the entire daily routine with a balloon company and a thorough understanding of all the technical facilities. Knowledge of astronomical position finding.

Knowledge: Successful completion of the assigned theoretical examination at the officer school for replacement units.

Requirements for Balloon Observers:

Achievements: 10 ascents with guided balloons against the enemy completing a war related sortie with a minimum duration of one hour each.

Skills: Complete proficiency in all actions and movements necessary in observer-service, especially balloon photography, radio-telegraphy and noise identification, repairs to the balloon, handling of the gas-apparatus and the use of the winches.

Knowledge: Successful passing of the assigned theoretical examination at the officer-school for replacement units.

Sorties of less than one hour duration are allowed to be counted only if special results or performance can be achieved. The scope of knowledge to be tested is determined according to the standards and the approval of the k.u.k. aviation troops command. Balloon-Pilots are principally recruited from the Balloon-Observers.

It can be proved, that the work in connection with the introduction of these badges was pushed ahead until at least May 1918. In shape, the badges would be similar to the Luftfahrerabzeichen with the exception that a gilt fixed balloon symbol would be used instead of the eagle. The laurel-wreath would be, analogous to the introduced air-crew badges, enameled green for the pilots and enameled white for the observers. The still preserved design-drawings are illustrated below.

Design Drawing Balloon Pilot's badge Design Drawing Balloon Observer's badge

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