Das Seeflugführerabzeichen 1918 & das Seeflugbeobachterabzeichen 1918-

 The Naval Pilot's and Naval Observer's Badges 1918

Immediately after the standardization of a naval pilot's badge in 1915 the k.u.k. navy already started the preparation for the planning of a corresponding badge for observers and air-gunners. However both projects were postponed in order to coordinate efforts with the k.u.k. army and the death of Kaiser Franz Joseph in 1916 necessitated the adaptation of all badges. Additionally a problem specific to the navy were the complicated award requirements for the naval pilot's badge which due to the impossibility of holding regulation courses and examinations in wartime practically brought about a cessation of awards. There was , therefore a great deal to do in the Project's Department of the Naval Section.

The new award regulations:

Conditions for Naval Pilots:


Ten sorties over the enemy of a minimum duration of two hours and with satisfactorily achieved results. Take-off and landing must be accomplished smoothly.


Mastery of the operation of all in service naval aircraft, under all conditions, especially during bad weather.


Successful passing of the naval pilot's examination.

Conditions for Naval Observers:


Ten sorties over the enemy of a minimum duration of two hours and with satisfactorily achieved results. From the ten executed sorties at least five photographs must be taken. During the sorties at least 20 bombs must be successfully dropped.


Complete mastery of all in service observer operations and management.


Successful passing of the naval observer's examination.

Accepted as sorties over the enemy are those in which the aircraft is in the area of enemy counteraction of any type, besides successfully executed mine and submarine observation. Sorties of less than two hours duration can only be counted if noteworthy success and achievements are obtained.

With the supplement to the naval gazette number 33 dated the 10th of October 1917, the following provisional introductory regulations for the award of naval pilot's badges and the later to be introduced observer badges were announced:

"Introductory Regulations"

    For the appointment as a naval pilot or as a naval observer, for the extension of the right to wear the relevant badge and its permanent award:

A) Appointment as a Naval Pilot (Naval Observer).

    The conditions for the appointment as a naval pilot, naval observer respectively as well as the associated award of the badge are enclosed in the supplement. The conditions quoted under "performance" are determined by the headquarters of the corps of naval pilots according to the individual circumstances. The taking of the naval pilots and naval observers examination respectively are always held at the headquarters of the naval air corps. Those aspirant naval pilots (naval observers) who in fact have fulfilled the conditions as regulated under "Performance" and "Skill" but have not yet passed the naval pilot's examination will granted equal status as a naval pilot for the duration of one year. This equality provides only for the payment of the naval pilot's (observers) normal flight pay and is not associated with the award of the flying badge. This equality of status is ordered following application by the headquarters of the naval air corps to the central naval office. The appointment as a naval pilot or naval observer respectively as well as the award of the corresponding badge is made by the k.u.k. War Ministry, naval section, and both always for one years duration.

B) Extension of the Entitlement to wear the Badge

   The commanders of the naval air stations report on the 1st of each month which naval pilots and naval observers fulfill the conditions:

   a) for the award of the right to wear the respective badge for a further year.

   b) for permanent award.

   On the basis of these reports, the headquarters of the naval air corps reports to the k.u.k. War Ministry, naval section  concerning the applications which then orders the right of wear or permanent award respectively. Those naval pilots and observers who have not met the conditions must cease to wear the issued badge and return it to the headquarters of the naval air corps. The renewed right of wear of the badge for one year only follows if the prescribed conditions are met in full and is authorized by the central naval office upon application by the headquarters of the naval air corps. The aforementioned reporting commanders are personally responsible for the accuracy of their reports in every individual case. It is merely required in the report that the relevant conditions under "Performance" and "Skill" have been fulfilled. As a basis for the allowing of the claim for the award of the right to wear the relevant badge or the claim to its permanent award respectively as well as the equality of status to naval pilots  (naval observers), is the date of the appointment as a naval pilot or naval observer contained in the decree of the k.u.k. War Ministry, naval section.

C) The permanent award of the Naval Pilots and Naval Observers badge respectively is made by the k.u.k. War Ministry, naval section following the application of the headquarters of the naval air corps to:

   1. Those naval pilots (naval observers) who have already held this qualification  for four consecutive years.

   2. Also those naval pilots (naval observers), who in the performance of naval flight duty have been decorated for brave conduct before the enemy  and in the performance of this duty have received wounds, injuries or handicaps which makes them unfit for flight duty.

As can be seen, the k.u.k. navy followed the path of the army aviation service in its introduction of conditions for the attainment of the filed pilot's badge and aircrew badge respectively. In May 1918 another parallel change took place. The necessary flight duration was reduced to one hour and in the "Skill" category for naval observers more emphasis was placed on the mastery on air photography, radio telegraphy, machine gun handling and bomb release equipment. Additionally those flights over enemy territory in which no enemy was encountered were valid for qualification purposes.

The k.u.k. Naval Flying Badges 1918

   With the "Normalverordnungsblatt" (official order) of the 27th of January 1918 Dept. 10/M.S., the introduction of the two new badges was announced:

   His k.u.k. Apostolic Majesty has graciously approved with the highest decree of the16th of January 1918:

   1. The alteration of naval pilot's badge.

   2. The introduction of a naval observer's badge

    The design of both badges follows the attached illustration. The introductory regulations announced in the naval official orders, number 33 of the 10th of September 1917 remain in force until further notice.

  For the chief of the k.u.k. War Ministry, naval section:

                von Rodler m.p.



It can be seen from the enclosed drawing that here also for the most part the design of the k.u.k. army badge had been followed. The oval finished Tombak (bronze) badges were each secured at the rear with two carbine hooks. Similar to the air crew badge, a triple coat of arms consisting of the Hungarian, Austrian and Habsburg coats of arms was placed at the base. At the top of the laurel wreath was to be found the sovereign's initial on a red-white-red enamel shield. The badge for pilot's had a green enameled laurel wreath with a hovering seagull with outstretched wings whilst that of the observer was of white enamel with an ascending seagull clutching a bundle of lightening rods in the claws. The gulls were finished in black, hollow and secured to the wreath with a single rivet on each wing.


The firm of Zimbler in the 7th District of Vienna, which already produced insignia for the aviation troops of the k.u.k. army also turned itself to the production of the new badges. The firm tendered as follows on the 13th of August 1918:


  "Allow me to offer:


   Naval pilot's badge of enameled tombak, green enamel and gold plated. Observers badge of enameled tombak, white enamel and gold plated. For the price of K 16.50 (sixteen crowns fifty Heller) per piece. Considering that the punches and tools must be newly produced and on account of the ordered quantity in contrast to the production costs - this increases the price."


Apparently further conversations regarding the price took place after this tender as the order from department 12/naval section number 34064 dated the 21st of August 1918 read as follows:


   "To Herr Josef Zimbler, supplier to the k.u.k. court, Vienna VII/2, Burggasse 33


      You are invited to deliver free of freight charges the following materiel to the headquarters of the k.u.k. naval aviation corps at Pola. The conditions and regulations as indicated on the third and fourth page of this order are to be followed in every detail. Will you please confirm acceptance of the order by post. Badges for naval pilots of enameled tombak, green enamel and gold plated - 200 pieces. Badges for naval observers of enameled tombak, white enamel and gold plated - 200 pieces.  Price per unit - K 15, 50. Packed in a box as per illustration."


Naval Pilot's Badge 1918 and Naval Observer's Badge 1918 - Obverse

Naval Pilot's Badge 1918 and Naval Observer's Badge 1918 - Reverse


On the 23rd of August1918 Zimbler confirmed receipt of the order and informed the War Ministry/Naval Section he would provisionally be able to deliver the first delivery in about six weeks. However with the collapse of the monarchy the order was never fulfilled and consequently Zimbler had to turn to the department in the war ministry responsible for demobilization matters with regard to his invoice dated the 9th of November 1918.


   "Vienna, 29 November 1918


   To the War Ministry (Naval Section)


   With regard to your letter of the 22nd of this month dept. 6L/naval Section Number 46762 which I received today, I bring to your attention that the total order of 400 naval pilot's  and naval observer's badges  ordered by the former War Ministry, Naval Section dept. 12/Naval Section Number 34064 at a price of K15, 50 is fully complete and therefore ready for delivery at anytime at my factory in Vienna, VII, Burggasse 33. A recently executed delivery of a part order remains unfulfilled because of a refusal to accept the goods.  I enclose an invoice with the requested duplicate. The reduced amount of K 6200 should be transferred to me and the acceptance of the finished materiel enabled."


To this letter the officials of the Naval Section tried to induce Josef Zimbler to reduce the price by at least a half and to deliver the now un-needed badges. However for understandable reasons this was refused. On the 22nd of May 1919 he wrote:


    "With regards to your letter dept. XII. M.S. 6592 I must bring to your attention that it is completely impossible for me to make a settlement after the 200 pieces of both the naval pilots and observers badges as per order dept. Xii. M.S, Number 34064 are completed and stored with me. The prices were set extremely cheaply considering the costly equipment and assumed the acceptance of further orders and the amortization would only be possible in the latter case. With the first order therefore - as a consequence of the low price we have made nothing. I must therefore request that the full invoice amount is remitted to me."


For their part the naval liquidation section of the War Ministry was conscious of the legitimacy of this demand. This appears in an internal paper in June 1919. Amongst other things the concept was as follows:


    "...The completion took place in an exemplary and timely condition. The specified delivery of the goods to the headquarters of the naval aviation corps in Pola did not however happen as a consequence of the collapse. The cancellation of the order was likewise not possible, because for the most part the order was completed and ready for dispatch at the end of October and the remainder in the first days of November. The acceptance of the order has up to now not taken place, with the order still stored with the company."


The whole issue was additionally handed over to the former Marineoberkommissär Josef Achtschin in the naval liquidation section to handle. However the basic standpoint remained the same. The officials insisted that they were not willing to pay for badges for a nonexistent corps of naval aviators for a now nonexistent navy of a now nonexistent state and forbade the sale of the badges by Zimbler's firm with the usual clause about state owned orders and that of course the design and the dies were naval property! And so the matter was lost until the middle of the twenties when the naval liquidation section itself went into liquidation.


Apparently Josef Zimbler decided to sell the badges - to those entitled or not in order at least to make up some of his losses. This could also be an explanation as to why on some pieces available today the name of the firm has been grinded off the reverse of the badge. Further proof of the sale of the badges is the accompanying photograph of an unidentified NSKK-Oberführer taken in 1938 wearing the naval observer's badge model 1918 on the left breast .

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