Product Description: This Short Range Fighter Clasp in Gold is a gorgeous piece. It’s extremely high quality, and made of a brass alloy (Tombak). Nearly all of the beautiful, original gold finish is still present on the front and back of the oak leaves and wreath. The gold has been very nicely burnished, with polished highlights that add visual appeal. The central emblem also retains nearly all of the original finish, with only a slight hint of wear. The reverse of this Short Range Fighter Clasp is flat, and unmarked, with only slight age patination. The rivet holding the central emblem is textbook and perfectly intact, as is the functional hardware setup, which consists of a wide pin and a soldered hinge and catch. This clasp is an attractive gem, and remains in excellent condition.
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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