Product Description: This F&BL Luftwaffe Bomber Clasp Gold is a nice example of a scarce award. This is a typical late war piece, struck from fine zinc. At some point in the past, this badge suffered a break on the right side, between the wreath and oak leave. This break has been carefully and neatly repaired, very possibly for wear by the original owner who earned this badge for 100 bombing missions. As is typical with these late war zinc pieces, the base metal has interacted with the finish over time, with only traces remaining in the recesses of the design on the obverse. The clasp shows even, honest wear, and retains lots of original detail. The reverse of this clasp is flat, and is nicely maker marked, with the “F&BL” initials of the firm of Funke & Brüninghaus in Lüdenscheid. The hardware setup is intact, functional and originally attached, with a block hinge, “banjo” pin, and sheet metal clasp with catch plate. The hardware retains most of the original gold finish.This F&BL Luftwaffe Bomber Clasp Gold has great character, and was very likely worn on an airman’s uniform.
Historical Description: To acknowledge and recognize the achievements of Luftwaffe flight personnel who had taken part in missions against the enemy, the Luftwaffe in 1941 introduced a series of flight clasps, to be worn as awards on the uniform. The German term for this clasp was “Frontflugspange,” literally “Front Flight Clasp”; these are known to collectors as Flight Bars, Operational Flying Clasps or Squadron Clasps. The clasps took the form of a central emblem, set in a wreath of laurel leaves, and flanked on both sides by sprigs of oak leaves. On most designs, the German national swastika emblem was set at the bottom of the laurel wreath. The central emblem varied depending on the type of missions for which the clasp was awarded. An upward-pointed winged arrow was for Short Range Day Fighters, while a downward pointing winged arrow was for Long Range Day Fighters and Air to Ground Support (support crews later had their own crossed swords emblem). Bomber crews had a winged bomb emblem, a Luftwaffe eagle was chosen to represent Transport and Glider Squadrons, and an eagle head was worn by Reconnaissance, Air-Sea Rescue and Meteorological Squadrons. The clasps were produced in various grades to indicate the number of missions flown- Bronze for 20 flights, Silver for 60 flights and Gold for 100 flights. For personnel who surpassed the number of missions required for the Gold clasp, small pendants were produced, starting in 1942, to recognize the greater and greater numbers of missions being flown. There was a “star” pendant, that was given for certain numbers of flights beyond 100 missions (depending on the type of clasp, between 250 and 500 missions were required to earn the star). There were also numbered pendants, beginning with 200 missions, and increasing in increments of 100. As with all Third Reich military awards, Luftwaffe flight clasps are highly sought-after collectibles today.
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