Prussian Naval Observer’s Badge was instituted on May 25, 1915 by the King of Prussia and the Emperor of the German Empire Wilhelm II. Official announcement was published in the Navy Regulations Gazette (Marine-Verordnungsblatt) No.187, 1915. The badge was awarded to naval observers who successfully passed series of theoretical and practical examinations upon completion of the special training. Naval Observer Schools (Marine-Fliegerbeobachter Schule) were situated in Hage, Wilhelmshaven, Johannistahl and Wiek. It’s worth mentioning here that operational requirements for naval observers were by far more strict than those for army personnel. In addition to requirements stipulated for pretenders to Flugzeug-Beobachter-Abzeichen, ССЫЛКА the naval observers were required to qualify in the following.
- Minimum flying time of 15 hours as an observer over sea and/or land, including at least 1,000 km of flight distance.
- Working knowledge of engines and power plants.
- Detection of air engine failures and securing of corrective maintenance procedures.
- Theoretical and practical knowledge of navigation and compass handling.
- Proficiency in sending messages in Morse code or by signals, in operating wireless radio and knowledge of flag signals.
- Operation of machine gun as well as handling of the aircraft release mechanisms at the air station or the aircraft tender.
- Knowledge of the tactical structure of the fleet as well as recognition of friendly and enemy ship types.
- Proficiency in essential naval skills regarding the operation of units afloat, e.g. towing, operation of drag anchors, etc.
- Ability to detect enemy positions, troop columns, fleet movement and single units afloat.
Prussian Naval Observer’s Badge had a shape of a vertical oval with an outside perimeter surrounded by a wide wreath. Its left side had laurel leaves symbolizing victory and its right side had oak leaves standing for strength and hardiness. Both were joined together with a ribbon bow at the bottom thus signifying combination of those two qualities. Imperial crown topped the badge. The centre of the badge carried an image of an eagle with lowered wings sitting on a rock and facing left. Background showed sea with rising or descending sun and clouds above.
Depending on manufacturer, Marine-Beobachter-Abzeichen differed in certain details, e.g. some had crown inserts and lower ribbon fragments cut out. Moreover, badges of cut-out design are also known to be produced by certain firms.
A reverse was either plain or carried an image of multiple straight rays radiating from the centre. Manufacturers’ hallmarks and silver standard were often found on reverse or pin.
Anti-snag loop soldered to the reverse of the crown cross was characteristic to badges manufactured by the Berlin-based firm of the court jeweler Hugo Schaper (1844-1915).
Dimensions of Marine-Beobachter-Abzeichen depended on the manufacturer and measured 71-74х45-48 mm. Two-piece hollow badge weighed 24,63-27,21 g, while seamless ones – 46,36-66,4 g.
Issued badges were most often stamped of gilt Bronze, while privately purchased hollow two-piece or single massive badges of superior quality were made of gilt silver. Slightly smaller and highly popular at the beginning of the XXth century “Prinzengröße” versions of the badge, miniatures and frock coat miniatures were produced as well. All those smaller versions and miniatures had no crown or lower ribbon cut-outs.
Abzeichen für Beobachter auf Marineflugzeugen was worn on or below the left breast pocket of a tunic. It was attached either with a vertical pin and catching hook soldered to a reverse, or central screw with oval plate, or two screws soldered to upper and bottom portions of a reverse with small round plates.
Contradictory to the common Weimar-era sentiments, Marine-Beobachter-Abzeichen in its original design, i.e. with the outlawed Imperial crown was awarded even after the WWI, thus allowing former naval observers to obtain just reward and collect their long desired decoration. The badges were produced by the original manufacturers until the end of the WWII and were available for private purchase by the Great War veterans upon presentation of an award document until the fall of the Third Reich.