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Imperial Japanese Army Pilot Wings

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I am going to start a thread on the pilot badges of the Imperial Japanese Army. These are typically humble embroidered badges when compared to the more elaborate metal school army flight school graduation badges and naval proficiency badges. They are also typically undervalued when compared to other WWII wings of major air powers. What I find interesting is the diversity of the wings and the lack of regulations and specificity of design in English. Perhaps more advanced collectors understand the detail of each type and are willing to share their knowledge.

If you are interested in more information about metal Japanese Army pilot school graduation badges, see this thread here:

http://gmic.co.uk/index.php/topic/53959-army-pilot-badge-evolution/

Edited by Nick

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The first wing is unusual. I have never seen another one like it. The usual star that is in the center of the badge is replaced by a smaller star on top of a sekura, or cherry blossom, similar to the device seen on navy petty officer ranks. It seems to me this is more than simple design choice. This device signifies something particular but I am not sure what. Also of interest is the lavender color but this could be a fading of the more typical blue colored background.

Edited by rathbonemuseum

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The next series is a more typical style with a lovely silver embroidered wing and gold star. This wing is typically associated with service dress for officers though I have no regulations to back that up. What makes this particular version interesting is its background color: a deep royal blue versus the more common teal blue. Note that one star is a bright fire gilt while the other is more bronze. This seems to be a matter of time and oxidation.

Also note the different wing shapes. The first is a rounded tip while the second has a cut angle to the end. This seems to manufacture preference or style vs. any type of regulation. It also could be time based as the style of the wing changed. But these are the two most common types seen.

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The next pattern is somewhat of a hybrid. It has the heavy bullion thread and metal star of the previous type, but has the more common teal colored background. Again, this is typically referred to as an officer grade wing for use on a service dress uniform. However, I have seen this type sewn to both field and tropical uniforms and clearly worn down through use.

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The most common of the metal star wings is the following pattern with thin bullion thread and a metal star. Typically the metal star is in gold and appears as different colors though through oxidization and wear.

Note the different shapes of the wings and the various levels of wear. Also note that while all of these feature a yellow sil embroidered wreath, they all have different little embellishments to add more texture like brown thread or gold bullion thread.

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This next example is unusual in its color. Never seen another like it. Somewhat of a hybrid. Has the tight bevo weave bullion thread but a metal star attached.

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The next series is also fairly common. It is identified by the tight bevo weave thread and the lack of a metal star. The star is now woven like the rest of the badge. I am unsure if this was a field version (more practical without something to catch) or possibly for more junior ranks. Would appreciate any sourced information.

Note that all are woven in metallic thread and typically have a gold star in the center. The last is unusual because it features a silver star. This is the only silver star wing I have seen.

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The final pilot wing type I will post is probably the most common as it was the cheapest to produce. It was made of bevo weave silk thread on a fabric tape. You can find rolls of these for sale to this day. It is harder to find one that was actually worn on a uniform. These are typically associated with enlisted pilots though I have never found sourced regulations to support this.

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The next series of badges are rated observer wings. These are worn above the pilot badge on the right chest when authorized. They also show the same variations in manufacture as the pilot badges.

The first is heavy gold bullion on a dark, royal blue background.

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The third is a bevo weave model with metallic thread. Note that there was inconsistency in manufacture in terms of which way the bird's head faced.

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Very impressive collection of wings Tod!!! :beer:

Unfortunately not much info about these can be found around...

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Hmmm

This is slightly puzzling ...

Oleg, any traces of regulation for these wings in national diet archive? :whistle:

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An edict of 1943 about the 航空胸章.

http://dl.ndl.go.jp/view/jpegOutput?itemId=info%3Andljp%2Fpid%2F2961532&contentNo=3&outputScale=1

http://dl.ndl.go.jp/view/jpegOutput?itemId=info%3Andljp%2Fpid%2F2961532&contentNo=8&outputScale=1

In 1944, there were changes.

///

Japanese write that in 1944 was founded the 空中勤務者胸章, for:

http://library.kiwix.org/wikipedia_ja_all/A/%E8%BB%8D%E6%9C%8D%20%28%E5%A4%A7%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E5%B8%9D%E5%9B%BD%E9%99%B8%E8%BB%8D%29.html

空中勤務者 - flight personnel:

操縦者 - pilots,

偵察者 - look-outs,

爆撃手 - bombardiers,

無線手 - radio operators,

旋回機関銃手 - machine‐gunners.

///

On rathbonemuseum*s site there are photos: http://www.rathbonemuseum.com/JAPAN/JPCptArmy/JPCptArmy.html

This is a pilot and an observer at the same time? :)

Edited by Jktu

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Hi, I am not sure what to make of the Japanese regulations as they are translated here. What I am pretty confident of is that the larger wing with the star center is not simply a branch of service device. I do not see it worn by that many individuals who would have been in the aviation branch. As for the smaller wing with the bird symbol, I only see it worn with the larger wing. So it must be a subset of aviation personnel. I look forward to more information from Japanese collectors who may have talked to veterans and know what these were worn for.

Edited by rathbonemuseum

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I've yet to see or examine a tunic that I felt certain wings weren't added post war

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According to the table in 1943 badge 航空胸章 worn by:

将校 - officers,

下士官 - petty officers,

士官候補生 - officer cadets,

技術候補生 - engineer cadets,

候補生 - surgeon cadets,

甲種幹部候補生 - class A officer candidates,

操縦候補生 - pilot candidates.

Edited by Jktu

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