Product Description: This is a great example of a desirable B&NL Pilot Badge, with a lot going for it. It’s a top quality, early piece, made of a brass alloy (Tombak). The eagle and swastika has great original dark finish, with some wear to high points that exposes the golden tone of the base metal. The wreath retains nearly all of the original finish on the obverse, with some built-up patination in the recesses of the design. The reverse of this B&NL Pilot Badge is clean, with an even, old patina on top of full original finish. The back of the eagle is stamped with a “B&NL” maker marking, indicating manufacture by the firm of Berg & Nolte in Lüdenscheid. The soldered barrel hinge, round wire pin, and soldered round wire catch are functional and completely original. This is a choice badge, in excellent condition overall.
Historical Description: The Luftwaffe Pilots Badge was instituted by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring on August 12, 1935. It was among the earliest badges introduced in the German Wehrmacht, and was worn by all qualified pilots in the German Air Force, similar to the “wings” worn by some other armies. The design of the badge featured a large, swooping eagle clutching the German national swastika emblem, surrounded by a wreath of oak and laurel leaves. The badge was normally presented in a blue hinged case. It was worn on the upper left uniform pocket, and a cloth version was also authorized for field use. In the nearly ten years from the introduction of this badge, to the end of WWII, the manufacturers of these awards made many changes in the features of the designs. Some companies, like Juncker, Assmann, and Deumer, had early first pattern badges which looked completely different from later pieces by the same manufacturers. Pilots badges were made of aluminum, nickel silver, plated Tombak, and zinc. The eagle was always a separate piece, riveted to the wreath, with different manufacturers using different rivet designs. As the war progressed, and dies wore out, many makers produced badges with subtle changes. All of these changes over time open up a large spectrum of variation collecting for Luftwaffe badge collectors.
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