Introduction by LCR Andrew Hopkins

The German Luftwaffe was a true child of National Socialism. Officially established in 1933, the Luftwaffe comprised the cream of Germany’s air minded youth.  Similarly, much of its senior leadership was recruited from the best and brightest of Germany’s other services and civilian corporations.  Extensively trained and blooded in the Spanish Civil War, Germany’s fliers were truly an elite group.

The uniforms of the Luftwaffe reflect this special status. Flashy and modern-looking, they are a radical departure from the more conservative, Prussian-style uniforms worn by Germany’s fliers in WWI.  The flight qualification badges of the Luftwaffe are also quite different from their Imperial counterparts.  Bold and highly stylized, they exude the aggressive power of Germany’s air force in the late 1930’s.

One important point is that the pilot and other aircrew badges are qualification awards.  In other words, they represent the attainment of a certain type of skill or level of proficiency rather than participation in combat operations.  This point makes aircrew qualification badges a rather unique series among the Wehrmacht’s myriad of “war badges”.  Produced from the mid Thirties until 1945, they are also one of the longest running series of Third Reich military badge.

Luftwaffe pilots and personnel served their country from the Blitzkrieg victories in the west to the desperate and bitter defense of the Reich against the Allied bomber onslaught.   These are the badges they received.


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