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Army Pilot Badge Evolution

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Army Pilot Badge…

Rare and beautiful treasure of Japanese phaleristic…

If not "Badge Incognita", then "Badge Qui Pro Quo" – that’s for sure!

Too little info – too much variations ;)

I hope in this thread we’ll sort everything out.

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Let’s begin from the very beginning. The one and only published source of info about this badge is (of course!) James Peterson book “Orders and Medals of Japan and Associated States”. On page 107 of his book Peterson gives us the following description of Army Pilot Badge.

- - -

Officer Pilot Badge

The badge is 38mm´52mm, oval shapes with border formed by stylized wings, each of the two elements emanating from the bottom center arching upwards to meet at the top. A two bladed propeller, horizontally oriented is at the bottom. The field is formed by a series of chrysanthemum petals radiating from the center. A five pointed star in gold gilt is centered. The wings are gold gilt, the propeller silver.

NCO Pilot Badge

The NCO badge is similar in design to the officer badge except the star is smaller and the wings are in silver.

- - -

No info about date when this badge was established is given…

No info about regulation…

Only one black and white photo of “officer badge” is given next to description.

But in the 3rd edition one additional color photo of “officer badge” could be found (see last color insert page right before page 85). At first (and superficial) sight the badge looks exactly as described “… A five pointed star in gold gilt is centered. The wings are gold gilt, the propeller silver.” Or does it??? Nope folks – this is not “gold” wings. This is more likely “brown” wings (“copper-plated” wings). I am guessing this badge came from the collection of Tim Quigley (unfortunately I don’t know this gentleman and couldn’t ask him directly about this badge). As we will see later this badge is actually NCO Badge – not Officer Badge.

That’s all info that we can get from Peterson book.

Let’s add some chronology ;)

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Chronology of the badge

The army pilot badge was established in 1923 in two classes

1st class badge for officers (badge “in silver”)

2nd class badge for NCOs (badge “in bronze”)

September 14, 1940 the badge for officers was abolished.

May 1944 NCO was expanded to include pilots of gliders and autogiros (I’d like to thank Nick Komiya for giving me this time coordinate)

Ok. That it is the whole story. As of today I don’t have any additional information about this badges.

But I have some of them ;)

Let’s examine them in every detail.

Edited by JapanX

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Badge typology

We will start with this beautifully preserved boxed specimen.

Type N1 NCO badge (1923-1940)

Badge dimensions

width 35,62 mm

height 50,56 mm

Box dimensions

90,82/76,34/24,10 mm

Badge weight 26,65 grams

Star, propeller and rays in gold gilt.

Propeller has solid blades.

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The box (several different colors of interior were observed - turquoise, green and dark blue)

Edited by JapanX

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Maybe somebody will explain to me where we can find the description for this badge?!

I know what you are thinking ;)

Maybe “brown” color was used as color replacer for “gold”.

Sorry folks…

No chance.

The inscription on the box clearly states that this is badge for NCO.

And even more important that exactly this type survived 1940 reorganization ;)

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Type N2 NCO badge (1940-1940)

We can examine this beautiful inscribed specimen because of our colleague DavidS.

Many thanks for these beautiful pictures mate!

This type has star in gold gilt, but propeller and rays in silver.

Propeller has solid blades.

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As we see box inscription changed (naturally! after 1940 there was no use for marking the box “for NCO” since all badges were intended for NCO).

Inscription on reverse reads “Corporal Takemoto, 58th Graduating Class” and it allows to date this piece by 1943.

But not all NCO badges were made in non-silver alloy ;)

Edited by JapanX

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Type N3 NCO badge made in silver (1940-1945)

This beautiful inscribed specimen is from Bob Schwartz collection. Bob kindly gave me a permission to use this (and couple of others ;)) beautiful photos. Thank you Bob! Many rare and beautiful phaleristic treasures could be found at his web-site www.ww2wings.com

This badge has star in gold gilt, but propeller and rays in silver.

Propeller has solid blades.

Marked under the catching hook “Pure Silver”.

Inscribed on reverse “Takeji Terada, Squadron 7”

Badge dimensions

width 38mm

height 51mm

Edited by JapanX

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And another interesting inscribed specimen.

This type has star in gold gilt, but propeller and rays in silver.

Propeller has solid blades.

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Obverse/Reverse

Edited by JapanX

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Aviation school “Kumagaya” (kanji on the right)

Name of the pilot “Nagai” (kanji on the left)

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You must wonder where these Officer Badges…

Not to mention notorious Peterson “wings are gold gilt” Officer Badge…

Well, if specimens with copper plated wings belong to NCO grade, then specimens without such colorization should belong to Officer Grade?! No?

I think it’s a brilliant idea! :lol:

Let’s try it out!

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Type O1 Officer badge made in silver (1923-1940)

This beautiful specimen is from Bob Schwartz collection. Thanks again Bob!

Badge dimensions

width 36mm

height 49mm

Edited by JapanX

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