Product Description: This early cased GWL Pilot Badge is a truly extraordinary piece, likely one of the very finest examples extant. The badge itself is in stone mint condition. It’s a very desirable, early piece, made of Tombak. The original, factory applied finish is 100 percent intact. The wreath is stunning, with eye-catching polished highlights to the high quality silver electroplated finish. The eagle displays all of the textbook GWL type brownish darkening. There is no sign of wear. The reverse of this gem is also pristine, and is maker marked “GWL” (for Grebüder Wegerhoff of Lüdenscheid) with the correct die flaw. The rivets are intact, and the attachment hardware is functional, with no repairs. This gorgeous badge is housed in a correct GWL style case. The case is very clean, and rates as near mint, with only extremely slight wear. Virtually all of the original surface is intact on the exterior, with bold color. The lid is embossed in gold leaf with “Luftwaffe-Flugzeugführer-Abzeichen.” The interior of the case displays the badge very nicely on a perfect and typical flock lined GWL lining. This early cased GWL Pilot Badge is an outstanding, correct and mint set that is very hard to find on the open market.
Historical Description: The Luftwaffe Pilot 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. Pilot 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, opened up a large spectrum of variation collecting for Luftwaffe badge collectors.
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