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Însignele piloţilor militari Români (1913-1947)

Military Pilot Badges (1913-1947)

 

           

May 1913 – August 1915 (Carol I, Ferdinand I)

Romania Military Pilot badge 01

Though the first distinctive breast badge was introduced only in 1915, the overview of military pilots’ insignia of the kingdom of Romania won’t be complete without mentioning early collar insignia worn by aviators on the initial stage just before the Great War broke out.

The earliest known aviators’ insignia was introduced in 1913 when the Royal decree announced an institution of the Romanian military air forces (Aeronautica Militară Română) within national engineer troops. The law regulating Aeronautics organization (Legea Organizării Aeronauticii) was officially published on April 20, 1913 three days after the military aviation as a separate branch was instituted.

As far as no badges were introduced on the initial stage, special insignia was worn by the first airmen to distinguish them from the engineer personnel. It consisted of the following emblems.

- Collar metal emblem representing French Blériot XI monoplane facing left.

- Cloth patch worn on the upper left sleeve of a tunic. It represented a so-called “Royal eagle” (Pajura Regală) with spread vertical wings holding a bomb in its claws. It will appear again in 1941 as a main emblem of the Romanian Air forces personnel. 

- “AV” letters sewn on the front of a kepi.

 

August 1915 – 1930 (Ferdinand I, Mihai I regency)

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The first Military pilot breast badge was instituted after the Romanian Aviation Corps (Corpul de Aviaţie Român) was created on August 10, 1915. Design of this and following badges was unique.

The badge represented “Royal eagle” (Pajura Regală) with spread vertical wings holding a bomb in its claws and bearing crowned cipher of the king Ferdinand I (two letters “F”) on its chest.

Military pilot badge was worn on the left side of a tunic and had horizontal or vertical pin and catch on its reverse. Some badges were attached to uniform using broad clip.

It was made of bronze and silvered bronze.

There was a maker’s mark “J.Reschl & Fii” (“J.Reschl & Sons”) on the reverse of some badges.

Due to the lack of official standards the badges differed in size and design details. Four variants of this type of badge are known:

1. The royal cipher and crown details are red enameled. Horizontal pin and catch on reverse,  maker’s mark “J.Reschl & Fii” (the most rare variant).

2. The royal cipher is blue enameled, vertical pin and catch on reverse, no maker’s mark. These badges were probably struck in Paris (rare variant).

3. No enamel finish, vertical pin and catch on reverse. Some badges have “J.Reschl & Fii” maker’s mark on their reverse. This is the most common variant of the Military pilot badge from the Ferdinand I reign that was issued in 1915-1920.

4. No enamel finish, horizontal pin and catch on reverse. Mass production variant issued in 1920-1930.

Miniatures of this badge were also manufactured. They differed in size, obverse details (some had blue enamel) and attachment method. 

Though a new badge bearing cipher of the next king Mihai I was introduced after the death of Ferdinand I (July 20, 1927) pilots still kept on wearing previous type of the badge.

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1928 (Mihai I regency)

A special version of this badge limited to five pieces was issued in 1928 to commemorate the victory of the Romanian squadron at the air contest between teams from the “Little Entente” countries and Poland (Little Entente was an alliance formed in 1920 and 1921 by Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia with the purpose of common defense against Hungarian revision and the prevention of a Habsburg restoration).

Unlike the ordinary badge this one was made of silver had an additional horizontal gilt laurel leaf. Five Romanian pilots were decorated, namely captain Romeo Popescu, lieutenant R.Atănase (unfortunately name is unknown), Gheorghe Ştefănescu, Traian Burduloiu and Gheorghe Ceauşu.

 

July 1927 – June 1931 (Mihai I regency years, Carol II first year of reign)

Romania Military Pilot badge 03

During the first reign of the king Mihai I (regency period, July 20, 1927 – June 08, 1930) Military pilot badge with his cipher was privately issued. It was manufactured in small jewelry workshops by overlapping new cipher on that of Ferdinand.

Two variants of this type of badge are known.

1. The Ferdinand I-era badge (3rd variant issued in 1915-1920 with a vertical pin) was used as a base. Blue enameled “M I” letters within a rim were overlapped on Ferdinand’s cipher. This simplified process led to the presence of two royal crowns – that of Ferdinand I and that of Mihai I beneath.

2. The Ferdinand I-era badge (4th variant issued in 1920-1930 with a horizontal pin) was used as a base. Dark blue enameled “M I” letters within a broad enameled rim were overlapped on Ferdinand’s cipher.

 

June 1931– September 1940 (Carol II)

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Fundamentally new design of the Military pilot badge was introduced during Carol II reign (June 08,1930 – September 06, 1940).

The badge was instituted on June 06, 1931 by the Royal decree No.1935.

It had a form of a pair of horizontal spread wings with a crowned blue enameled cipher of the king Carol II (two bound letters “C”) in the middle and a sword with an edge in a form of propeller.

The badge (66х36 mm) was made of silvered bronze and had a horizontal pin and catch on its reverse. The crown and outer rim were not silvered and retained bronze color.

Military pilot badge was worn either above the left breast pocket of a tunic or on the pocket itself.

Miniatures of the badge differed in size, obverse details (some had blue enamel) and attachment method.  

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September 1940 – January 1941 (Mihai I)

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During the second reign of the king Mihai I (September 06, 1940 – December 30, 1947) three types of the Military pilot badge were introduced. The first transitional type was issued within three last months of 1940 and in the beginning of 1941. The cipher of the abdicated king was changed to that of Mihai I (situation similar to the regency years when Ferdinand badges were modified in a same way). These badges were made mostly in private jewelry workshops. 

Thus the Military pilot badge represented a pair of horizontal spread wings with a crowned cipher of Mihai I (“I” within bigger “M”) in the middle and a sword with an edge in a form of propeller.

The badge (66x36 mm) was made of silvered bronze and had a horizontal pin and catch on its reverse. The crown and outer rim were not silvered and retained bronze color.

Military pilot badge was worn either above the left breast pocket of a tunic or on the pocket itself.

 

January-June 1941 (Mihai I)

Romania Military Pilot badge 06

The next type of the Mihai I-era Military pilot badge was instituted in the beginning of 1941 to avoid modification of badges bearing Carol II cipher.

The badge represented a pair of horizontal spread wings and a sword with an edge in a form of propeller. A cross formed with four crowned blue enameled royal ciphers of the king Mihai I (“I” within bigger “M”) was placed in a middle.

The badge (66x36 mm) was made of silvered bronze and had a horizontal pin and catch on its reverse. Crowns and outer rim were not silvered and retained bronze color.

Military pilot badge was worn either above the left breast pocket of a tunic or on the pocket itself.

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June 1941 – December 1947 (Mihai I)

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The final type of the Mihai I-era Military pilot badge was instituted by the Royal decree on May 26, 1941 (proclaimed on June 04, 1941) and remained unchanged until the abolishment of the monarchy on December 30, 1947. Despite fundamentally different look it was in fact a return to the design of a Ferdinand-era badge.

The obverse represents a so-called “Royal eagle” (Pajura Regală) with spread vertical wings holding a bomb in its claws. The crowned Romanian escutcheon with a centered black-and-white Royal House shield is situated in the middle of its chest. Escutcheon, shield and crown details were enameled.

The badge (43x44 mm) was made of silvered bronze and had a vertical hollow tube for an attachment on reverse. Small amount of badges were made of silver.

The rarest variant is that made of silvered bronze (58x45 mm) with horizontal pin and catch. There are two stamps on its reverse – year of issuance on the right wing and probably serial or order number on the left.

Pilots used to wear the badge either on the left breast pocket of a tunic or above it. Sometimes it was worn extremely high nearly next to the shoulder strap.

Miniatures of the badge of silvered bronze and enamel were manufactured as well.

Romanian Military pilot badge was also awarded to German pilots together with an award document. 

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