Product Description: This Silver Night Fighter Clasp is a nice example of a rare clasp. These Night Fighter clasps are tough awards to find in any condition. This one is choice. It’s made of fine zinc. The oak leaf clusters retain nice silver finish, with some of the original factory applied protective lacquer still evident in the recesses of the design. The central emblem contrasts nicely, with nearly all of the original black paint on the laurel leaf wreath. Minimal wear reveals some base metal shine at the highlights. On the reverse, this outstanding Silver Night Fighter Clasp is maker marked “R. K.” indicating manufacture by the firm of Rudolf Karneth. The back of the clasp has some nice silvering remaining, and shows the textbook crimped-in hardware that one expects to see on R.K. produced clasps. The solid tapered pin is functional, and retains the original protective lacquer. This desirable award is clean and very attractive. The condition rates as excellent plus.
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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