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It must be postwar. I can't see a guy that has no rank having a pilot's badge. I know there were NCO pilots, but this guy is a nothing, not even a Gefreiter. The silk/rayon cap has an officer's cockade, so I am really unsure about what is going on here. Even the collar tabs have me a bit baffled. They should have a center black stripe bordered on the top and bottom with parallel white stripes.

Chip

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He's a member of a Schutzstaffel or Schlachstaffel, one of the ground-attack units. Rick Duiven and Dan-San Abbott's book Schlachtflieger! lists many Pioniere who were pilots. For example, Pionier Gottfried Weber was a pilot for Prussian Schutzstaffel 16; Pionier Ludwig Grünwald was a pilot for Bavarian Schutzstaffel 22; Pioniere Georg Fink and Friedrich Meyer were pilots for Bavarian Schutzstafel 23; Pionier Friedrich Wilhelm Mayr was a pilot for Bavarian Schutzstaffel 24, and so on.

Edited by Thomas W
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What was the role of these pilots? Battlefield observation? What types of planes would they fly?>

Halberstadt CL.II and CL.IV; Junkers J.I and CL.I; AEG J.I and J.II; Hannover CL.II and CL.IIIa; Albatros J.I and J.II.

The AEG and Albatros J-class aircraft had machine guns mounted in the observer's cockpit that fired downward at an angle of 45 degrees. Some AEG J.II's had up to six machine guns in the rear cockpit for trench strafing. The name Schutzstaffel means "Protection flight"; they were assigned to artillery observation planes to protect them. Later they were redesignated Schlachtstaffeln or "Battle Flights," which engaged in infantry-contact patrols and ground attacks. In this role they were armed with aerial grenades, hand grenades, light bombs, and multiple machine guns.

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