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Imperial Japanese Army Pilot Wings


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So it seems that a lot of personnel were entitled to wear the wings (航空胸章)

I am not sure what they signified then. It seems the smaller eagle badge was for all active flight personnel. So were the larger wings for ALL members of the air branch or the IJA even if they did not fly in a plane?

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This is badge for:


petty officers,


class А officer candidates.

It turns out that all branches. Did surgeons fly in a plane?

According to the table (in 1944, not in 1943), did not have the larger wings:

甲乙種區分前ノ幹部候補生 - class А and B officer candidates who received these classes in other schools (who complete their education in aviation schools),

乙種幹部候補生- class В officer candidates.

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Typically no, surgeons did not fly in planes. If they were associated with a flying unit and were trained in the effects of flying on human health, they would be the units flight surgeon. At least that it is how it was in the US. They were aviation related but not pilots or crew.

I still am wondering if the larger wing specified that the wearer was flight qualified: i.e. a pilot. Someone who actually was trained to fly.

or, if this was a branch of service device for anyone related to aviation in the army.

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Hi Jktu,

I think in the hobby there are often details lacking in literature, and collectors observe over years, and build up theories.

Sometimes the theories are right, sometimes they are wrong, but either way they are important, because voicing them and getting feedback is the only way forward,

all the best


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To sum up

According to 1944 regulation

Large wings [航空用特別胸章 (航空胸章) - Air Force Badge] were issued to

将校 - officers,

下士官 - petty officers,

士官候補生 - officer cadets,

技術候補生 - engineer cadets,

軍医候補生 - surgeon cadets.

Smaller wings [空中勤務者胸章 - Flight Personnel Badge] were issued to

操縦者 - pilots,

偵察者 - observes,

爆撃手 - bombardiers,

無線手 - radio operators,

旋回機関銃手 - machine‐gunners.

Edited by JapanX
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I agree with Chris. Much of the info we get is acquired & passed down. I'm always open to correction once the true facts come to light. Having said that, I've always believed the cloth wings were just to signify flight training completion. Not exclusively issued/worn by just pilots but others involved in aviation at many different levels

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Thank you for all the official regulations from the Diet archives.

I think I would sum up (my personal summation) what was written as follows:

In 1943, the large wing with star was introduced to all IJA personnel who received flight training. You would have been trained in basic operations of aircraft, principals of flight, emergency procedures and would have flown a certain number of hours. That is why cadets and surgeons were involved. An analogy could be made to parachute training. Anyone who has gone through the training is considered jump qualified and can wear the jump badge. In this case, any Army personnel who went through flight training (vs. pilot training) was eligible to wear the badge.

It is unclear at this point if the different style of badges had anything to do with rank or type of uniform to be worn on.

The smaller badge then, the one shaped like an eagle, was established in 1944 to signify those Army personnel who were part of an active flight crew. This makes sense that these men would want to signify they were the ones actually flying in the planes vs. flight trained.

Does this make sense? Anyone know any IJA veterans to ask?

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Clearly translated with no sense of what classifies a military aviator. Just a literal translation of words. There are all kinds of aviation classifications in all the WWII air forces. The key word is "qualification." If one is flight qualified or pilot qualified, then they are considered trained to actually fly the plane. None of these seem to be specific. The only flight badge seems to be the small 'air personnel' badge which at least seems to indicate one served a role in a flying military aircraft (as opposed to ground support, mechanic, anti-air, etc)

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  • 2 years later...

The Navy did not have the equivalent of these badges. 

They had blue colored piping on officer rank and blue colored sakuras on the petty officer ranks that signified they were part of the air branch of the Imperial Navy.

There were metal proficiency badges (1st and 2nd class) that were awarded to air branch personnel for passing skill tests (similar in idea to graduation badges).

There was no general badge worn to indicate flight qualified or flight trained like the army badges above.

It sounds like you are referring to something specific though?

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Thanx for your answer...

yes, I'm referring to this kind of badge :


This should be (perharps) the Navy equivalent of large wings of Army, but scarce infos about this item seems to report wrong things (i.e. that it is a generic SNLF badge, I think false). So, my question is:

Is there someone that know something more about this badge (date of regulation, ranks classes, authorized people, for which uniform is used, or... everything else) ?

Thanx again.


P.S. : the web, photos of army people with army wings are everywhere, but I never seen a picture with this badge on a navy pilot... It is a really strange thing.

Edited by Danny63
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That is an Imperial Japanese navy badge. It is for those naval personnel trained for amphibious landings and assaults and therefore is often referred to as the naval landing forces badge. I have not seen or read the original regulations so I am not sure what specific training or qualification was required to wear the badge. Please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Naval_Landing_Forces



Edited by rathbonemuseum
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