“Young Aircraft Constructor” breast badge worn by a schoolboy or a young pioneer indicates that he already acquired some essential aeronautical knowledge and became aviation-savvy to a certain extent.
Young Aircraft Constructor, 1939.
“Be Ready for Labor and Defense” and “Young Aircraft Constructor” badges are known to be least common among children. This can easily be explained as it’s much more difficult to pass qualification standards for these badges in comparison with others. (…) These badges are rarely seen being worn by young pioneer detachments and are quite difficult to be decorated with.
Bocharov D., Studenetzky N. “Detachment Named after Stalin”. “Vozhatyj” Magazine, 1939, No.9.
Aircraft modelling became extremely popular among Soviet citizens of various ages, including schoolchildren and young pioneers during the very first years of OSOAVIAKhIM activities. Aircraft hobby clubs had been established in institutions, plants, factories, universities and secondary schools throughout the country. Central Aircraft Modelling Laboratory of the Central Council of the OSOAVIAKhIM of the USSR was established in February 1931, and August 10 of the same year 16-years old Mikhail Zyurin (1915-1943) from the city of Vyatka (since 1934 – Kirov) opened the scoring of world records of Soviet aircraft modellers and set two world records at once at the meadow near the now extinct village of Strogino (nowadays a district in the northwest of Moscow): his fuselage model of an airplane with rubber engine floated within 27 minutes 20 seconds and landed in 2,020 meters from the model’s launching position. Before that the most advanced German models of the same class were able to cover 500-600 meters, while world record amounted to 779 meters only.
It is not surprising that aircraft modelling in the Soviet Union had been appealing mostly to adolescents and schoolchildren: while 25,000 children approximately were involved in aircraft model sports and construction in 1932, their numbers reached half a million by 1934. Around the beginning of 1934 ca. 600,000 Soviet citizens practiced aircraft modelling in various OSOAVIAKhIM institutions.
All-Union aircraft modeller rallies held in the Soviet Union on a regular basis largely contributed to promotion of aircraft modelling. Greeting delegates of the III All-Union aircraft modeller rally in 1932, Kliment Voroshilov, People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs and Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR, appealed: “Train on aircraft models at present, and we will wait you to become desired students of our aviation schools in the years to come”.
In order to promote wide development of aircraft modelling in the Soviet Union and to embrace as many young pioneers and schoolchildren as possible, Central Council of the OSOAVIAKhIM of the USSR and the RSFSR has instituted the “Young Aircraft Constructor” badge. Statute of the badge and qualification standards have been approved by three high level authorities in consecutive order: Moisey Epstein, Deputy People’s Commissar of Education of the RSFSR (February 03, 1935); Robert Eideman, Chairman of the Central Council of the OSOAVIAKhIM of the USSR and the RSFSR (February 08, 1935); Pavel Gorshenin, Secretary of the Central Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League (February 09, 1935).
Original Statute stipulated that schoolchildren and young pioneers aged 12 to 16 were eligible for decoration with the badge provided they meet the following requirements.
1. To be an active member of the aircraft modeling club.
2. To be a high achiever in school studying and never get unsatisfactory marks.
3. To pass appropriate qualification standards at aircraft modeling clubs, study rooms and hobby groups under OSOAVIAKhIM flying clubs and children’s engineering centers of People’s Commissariat for Education.
Each candidate for decoration with the “Young Aircraft Constructor” badge was supposed to pass the following qualification standards.
1. To make by one’s own:
a) aircraft schematic model;
b) drawing of the schematic model of aircraft, hot air balloon, box kite (task is possible while passing essential standards);
c) assemble and adjust correctly assembled model (task is possible while passing essential standards).
2. To be able to launch hot air balloon, box kite, self-assembled schematic model of aircraft at a distance of at least 100 meters.
3. To know how to identify passenger aircraft, fighter aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft and bomber by their silhouettes and models.
4. To be good at detection of strength and direction of the wind on the basis of such local indications as smoke, trees and condition of water surface.
5. To know:
a) construction, materials used for production, purpose and names of the main parts of spherical balloon, airship, aircraft and glider;
b) control of airplane scheme;
c) fundamentals of flight of balloon, airplane and glider (concise essential principles of aerostatics and aerodynamics).
Those who passed qualification standards successfully were granted preferential rights to join glider clubs and schools of OSOAVIAKhIM, to participate in rallies of Young aircraft constructors organized by the OSOAVIAKhIM, as well as to wear distinctive uniform introduced for aircraft modellists (Pilotka, i.e. foldable side cap).
Image of the badge was published for the first time on December 30, 1935 on pages of the newspaper “Na Strazhe” (“На страже”, i.e. “On Guard”), No.178, page 4.
The badge had quite complex shape and consisted of a vertically placed two-bladed propeller superimposed on a pair of horizontal outspread wings bearing inscription “OSOAVIAKhIM of the USSR” (“ОСОАВИАХИМ СССР”) in their central part executed in capital letters and separated into two parts by the propeller: “OSOAVIA” (“ОСОАВИА”, on the left) and “KhIM of the USSR” (“ХИМ СССР”, on the right). Horizontal semi-oval with pebbled surface and three large capital letters “ЮАС” (“YAC”) standing for “Юный” (“Young”), “Авиа” (“Aircraft”) and “Строитель” (“Constructor”) was adjacent to the wings from above. The whole composition was topped with three red enameled tongues of flame. The badge had counter relief (“mirror”) reverse. It was manufactured of bronze and attached by a horizontal safety pin. The latter was pressed to the reverse of the badge by circular metal plate bearing crude stamped serial number soldered to the backside. Original pieces with short screw soldered to the reverse instead of the lost or broken pin are known to exist. Dimensions of the badge depended on the manufacturer and the period of production. Generally it measured 32x24 mm.
Less common pattern of the badge consisted of the propeller superimposed on outspread wings bearing inscription “OSOAVIAKhIM of the USSR” (“ОСОАВИАХИМ СССР”). However, semi-oval was absent, and the composition described above was topped with three red enameled tongues of flame of a different shape. The latter bore three intertwined large capital letters “ЮАС” (“YAC”) standing for “Юный” (“Young”), “Авиа” (“Aircraft”) and “Строитель” (“Constructor”).
The badge measuring 32x21 mm was manufactured of bronze and was attached to outerwear by short screw soldered to its reverse and nut.
“Young Aircraft Constructor” badges were worn on the left side of the breast.
The very first batch of badges was sent to local clubs in conjunction with the anniversary of the RKKA.
Presidium of the Central Council of the OSOAVIAKhIM examined the question of the further development of the aircraft model sports in May 1937, and the decision it adopted contained appeal to local councils of the Society to increase their efforts in organizing qualification standards for “Young Aircraft Constructor” badge. Aviation organizations were also involved in development of aircraft modelling. Thus, OSOAVIAKhIM glider club regulations particularly stipulated that clubs had to provide aircraft modelling hobby groups and clubs training and technical assistance as well as to fully support creation of new young aircraft constructors hobby clubs.
Statute of the badge was slightly changed by 1939. Thus, official booklet “Young Aircraft Constructor” published in 1939 informed that schoolchildren from fourth to eighth grades were eligible for passing qualification standards. Initial requirement “To be a high achiever in school studying and never get unsatisfactory marks” (see above) has been annulled.
As for the qualification standards, they have been modified as follows.
1. To make models based on drawings by one’s own:
a) various flying toys, paper models, primitive helicopter, etc.;
b) aircraft schematic model; assemble and adjust it.
2. To make drawing of the schematic model of aircraft or glider, hot air balloon, box kite.
3. To be able to launch hot air balloon, box kite, as well as self-assembled schematic model of an aircraft or other models (glider, fuselage model of an airplane) at a distance of at least 75 meters.
4. To identify passenger aircraft, fighter aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft and bomber by their silhouettes and models.
5. To be good at detection of strength and direction of the wind on the basis of such local indications as smoke, trees and condition of water surface.
6. To know:
a) construction, purpose and names of the main parts of spherical balloon, airship, aircraft and glider;
b) control of airplane scheme;
c) fundamentals of flight of balloon, airplane and glider.
Qualification standards were administered by instructor of the aircraft modeling club (preferably from another club) in the presence of one of the following persons: young pioneer organizer, teacher, head of children’s engineering center or representative of the OSOAVIAKhIM flying club. Examination consisted of theoretical and practical parts. The former was conducted in the form of discussion using models and posters, while the latter took place in the field.
Record keeping of those who passed qualification standards successfully was maintained by local councils of the OSOAVIAKhIM through instructor of aircraft modeling study room of OSOAVIAKhIM flying club or through instructor of children’s engineering center.
Badges were to be presented in a festive atmosphere, e.g. during school parties or young pioneer camp bonfire, adjusting their terms with exhibitions of works of aircraft modellists.
“Young Aircraft Constructor” badge was issued until the beginning of the Great Patriotic war (June 22, 1941).
Surprise informal revival of the badge took place in the XXI century: it was adopted by the management of the scientific and technical club “Seeker” that operates under the orthodox classical gymnasium “Sofia” (town of Klin, Moscow region). Club membership is open for gymnasium students from first to ninth grades, and aircraft modelling constitutes one of the major activities of the “Seeker”.
According to Statute of the badge “Young Aircraft Constructor of the Gymnasium “Sofia” (“Юный авиастроитель гимназии “София”), it is awarded to gymnasium students aged 10-16 who have passed appropriate qualification standards of three degrees. Generally, they are similar to original standards of the 1930s, but self-assembled airplane model must be launched at a distance of 20 meters only.