Das Seeflugführerabzeichen 1915 - The Naval Pilot's Badge 1915

Maschinenbauingenieur 2.Klasse d. Res. Ing. Josef Mickl wears his Naval Pilot's Badge on the Right BreastIn the same way as the k.u.k. army, the k.u.k. navy discovered their interest in aviation in 1912. In 1913 a total of 14 naval officers were trained by the army as field pilots. These were:

Marine-PVBl. Nr.6 of the 15th of February 1913: (Marine-PVBl. = Naval Personnel Matters Circular)

Linienschiffsleutnant Hugo Ockermüller

Linienschiffsleutnant Wenzel Wosecek

Fregattenleutnant Gottfried Banfield


Marine-PVBl. Nr.12 of the 22nd of March 1913:


Linienschiffsleutnant Viktor Klobucar


Marine-PVBl. Nr. 50 of the 31st of October 1913:


Linienschiffsleutnant Franz Mikuleczky

Linienschiffsleutnant Gustav Klasing

Linienschiffsleutnant Hugo von Wiktorin

Fregattenleutnant Karl Cerri

Fregattenleutnant Konstantin Maglic

Fregattenleutnant Glauko Prebanda

Fregattenleutnant Otto Ritter Fiala von Fernbrugg

Fregattenleutnant Alois Kaindl

Fregattenleutnant Heinrich Fontaine von Felsenbrunn


Marine-PVBl. Nr. 53 of the 2nd of November 1913:


Linienschiffsleutnant Heinrich Huss


These 14 young officers (Linienschiffsleutnant = Hauptmann, Fregattenleutnant = Oberleutnant) formed the basis of the k.u.k. naval aviation. Of course, the field pilot training was not adequate for the demands of naval air service - after all, the flying boats in practice took off and landed on the open sea and it was soon recognized that further training with the army with continuation instruction for naval pilots only represented a retarding of the training. They therefore had to independently introduce naval flight training with a final examination at the newly formed 1. Seeflugstation (1st Naval Air Station) at the Pola Naval Base. With the circular ordinance of the 14th of February 1914, young naval officers and aspirant officers were invited to report for the new service within the navy. The upper age limit was set at Linienschiffsleutnants with seniority (inclusive) from the 1st of May 1912 and a minimum service obligation of five years flight duty. A detailed system of bonus pay for members of naval air stations was published in the circular ordinance of the 7th of May 1914. There were daily bonuses dependent on rank and monthly bonuses dependent on function (e.g. naval pilot) - together a real financial improvement of the anyway not exactly princely remuneration in the k.u.k. navy.


Training Conditions


The naval section in the k.u.k. war ministry laid down on the 20th of March 1913 the training conditions for naval pilots as follows:


    "For the appointment as a naval pilot, the following conditions are stipulated:


    1.) The passing of the pilot's examination with either land or sea planes according to international  regulations.


    2.) The proof of at least 60 take-offs with sea planes. Including at least 10 with a wind strength of 8 metres/second or over, 10 glides with extinguished engine without engaging it above water, 10 take-offs connected with flights of more than quarter of an hours duration whilst carrying ballast of the average weight of a passenger (70kg). The wind strength is confirmed by the hydrographical office and the execution of the glides by the instructor.


    3.) The departure from a quadrilateral over the water's surface of at least 200 and at the most 500m length with a wind strength of 8 metres/second or over.


    4.) The trainee is to have executed as many take-offs with a full payload (passenger replaced by a 70kg sandbag) with those sea planes designated by the instructor, as it appears necessary to the instructor for the assessment of the safe handling of these aircraft. However, this order is subject to the qualifying order that after 100 take-offs (including the flights taken under point 2), it is to be reported to the war ministry/naval section, if the trainee has not yet acquired the aptitude.


    5.) Three over water flights outside the usual training area vicinity as ordered by the flight station commander. The flight duration of each over water flight is to total 50 sea miles and over. The planned route is left to the trainee and the aircraft is to land at the designated spot, the renewed takeoff can take place with the assistance of support teams. At the return landing station the motor is to be extinguished (turned off induction coil). The difficulty of the three sorties is to be increased through the choice of weather and landing position.


    6.) The solution of a military-maritime mission with a war ready equipped and manned naval aircraft (ballast of 70kg instead of passenger) whilst the minimum total flight distance is fixed at 100 nautical miles of which 54 nautical miles is a non stop over water flight. The total flight is to be executed in a shorter time than it would be possible with the fastest existing naval craft (e.g. for the end of 1913 with an average speed of 37 nautical miles per hour). Stopovers are only permitted if compelled by unforeseen accidents. A stopover during the over water flight of 54 nautical miles invalidates the entire flight and necessitates it's repetition. The choice of altitude is left in general to the pilot, however, the altitude of 800 metres is to be attained even if only temporarily. A barometric diagram and a sketch of the flight are to be submitted. The landing is to be effected as per paragraph 5.


    7.) The proof of theoretical knowledge in:

        a) Aviation, meteorology and instruments,

        b) Basics of aircraft construction,

        c) Engines and

        d) Foreign aviation, proof of practical knowledge in engine servicing.


    The theoretical examination has to take place by a board under the presidency of the air station commander, three questions from each group are to be put.  For naval officers who have been appointed as field pilots prior to beginning their training on sea planes, a board of examination is not applicable. Instead they are to take an examination which can be set by the flight instructor which is limited to the peculiarities of naval flight and sea plane construction as well as foreign aviation.


Although small amendments to these training conditions were effected, e.g. point 1) was struck out and the number of flights reduced from 100 to 50 before exclusion on aptitude grounds, it is already noticeable through reading that such a long winded and complicated examination procedure, depending on imponderables such as weather and the swell of the sea was hardly suitable to produce naval pilots in the necessary numbers in a short time - above all under wartime conditions! So it was then, but we will come back to this later.


The Naval Pilot Badge 1915 (Ds Seeflugzeugführerabazichen 1915


The introduction of the naval pilot's badge  is announced by the circular ordinance of the k.u.k. Navy, 7th issue from the 10th of March 1915 as follows:


"Circular Ordinance of the 28th of February 1915, O.K.M.S No. 884


His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty has graciously approved the introduction of a naval pilot's badge to be worn on the right breast according to the following design drawing. (A poorly reproduced black and white photo followed). The award of this badge is made from the k.u.k. War Ministry, naval section at the request of the k.u.k. naval air station Pola to all personnel on active and non active status that have met the respective determined conditions and will be announced in the naval personnel matters gazette.


For the Chief of the k.u.k. War Ministry, Naval Section

                                von Kailer m.p.



This short foundation announcement would be most uninformative from today's point of view, were it not, thankfully, that the files of the operations chancery of the k.u.k. War Ministry for submission to the Kaiser still survive today. Above all, the files of the 21st and 29th of January as well as the 2nd of February 1915 are extremely informative. Here is a summary of the most important  contents:


    As naval pilots in the future through their own service's training no longer had to be awarded the field pilot's badge one wanted to prevent a judgment between the two badges, the following text was decided and submitted:


    "The naval pilot's badge is worn analogously like the field pilot's badge, whilst it is to be noted, that the concurrent wearing of the naval pilot's badge and the field pilot's badge is not permitted."


Only a few of the apparently numerous design submissions, mostly executed in pencil or ink have survived. These are appended at the end of this article. Although the pattern actually presented to the Kaiser has not survived here is the enclosed official description of this design:


    The naval pilot's badge consists of an oval ring of 40mm and 30mm outer diameter length. The width of the ring is 4mm and is filled by a red-white-red concentrically arranged enamel inlay whose individual stripes are gold edged. A seagull depicted in flight occupies the middle of the ring in the direction of the longer diameter, whose wing tips on both sides project approximately 8 mm over the outer edge of the ring and whose beak, foot and the tip of the tail lay on the ring. Below the centre of the seagull, pointing at it, is the navy emblem consisting of crown and anchor. The latter rests on a black coat of arms that lays with it's lower contour on the outer edge of the ring and is in a similar form to the cap emblem.


    Construction: Metal - silver, ring - red/white/red enamel, seagull - white with red enameled beak and feet, crown and anchor - gold plated, undercoat of the anchor - black.


Further it was decided to send an order to the firm of Franz Till and Nephew in Vienna with the following contents:


    "The k.u.k. War Ministry/Naval Section hereby orders from you fifty (50) pieces of the Naval Pilot's Badge according to the enclosed design. Silver (marked) is to be utilized. The dies are to be invoiced and become the property of the k.u.k. War Ministry but will remain on the part of the esteemed company in their safekeeping."



The Awards


As already mentioned above, the taking of such protracted training and examinations during the war was simply not possible and de facto after 1915 no naval air pilot could be trained as prescribed by regulations.  Consequently there were no more awards of the naval pilot's badge and the 50 ordered and supplied examples covered the demand. In June 1915 the following personnel were appointed as naval pilots and had received the corresponding badge:


Linienschiffsleutnant Heinrich Huss Fregattenleutnant Heinrich Fontain von Felsenbrunn
Linienschiffsleiutnant Gustav Klasing Fregattenleutnant Kurt Herzberg
Linienschiffsleiutnant Viktor Klobucar-Bukovina von Bunic Fregattenleutnant Alois Kaindl
Linienschiffsleiutnant Franz Mikuleczky Fregattenleutnant Konstantin Maglic
Linienschiffsleiutnant Hugo Ockermüller Fregattenleutnant Alfred Freiherr von Minarelli-Fitzgerald
Linienschiffsleiutnant Hugo von Wiktorin Fregattenleutnant Glauko Prebanda
Linienschiffsleiutnant Wenzel Wosecek Fliegermaat Johann Molnar
Fregattenleutnant Gottfried Freiherr von Banfield Fliegerquartiermeister Ottokar Czaszlovsky


The following additional personnel were awarded the badge up to the end of 1915


Linienschiffsleutnant Stephan Drakulic Fregattenleutnant Dragan Babic
Linienschiffsleutnant Karl Dum Schiffsbauingenieur1. Klasse Ing. Theodor Weichmann
Linienschiffsleutnant Demeter Konyovits Maschinenbauingenieur 2. Klasse der Reserve Ing. Josef Mickl
Linienschiffsleutnant  Jakob Sturm


Besides these 23, no other person was ever appointed as a naval pilot according to the regulations or decorated with the badge. What happened to the remaining 27 badges cannot be ascertained from the files. They were perhaps melted down, a usual practice with precious metals at the end of the war.


Since under wartime conditions, a proper training regime in Pola was already difficult, it was decided to accept the offer of the German allies and at the end of August 1915 the following naval personnel under the command of Fregattenleutnant Kaindl were sent for training at the Fuhlsbüttel (Hamburg) flying school:


Fregattenleutnant Adolf Ihan Stabsmaschinenwärter Otto Ottinger
Fregattenleutnant Otto Freiherr von Klimburg Steuermannsmaat Josef Menzel
Fregattenleutnant Franz Krivanec Maschinenmaat Wilhelm Figuli
Fregattenleutnant Ernst Freiherr von Schönberger Maschinenmaat Franz Schachinger
Fregattenleutnant Eugen Mahr von Oravicza-Bánya Maschinenquartiermeister Emerich Hammermüller
Fregattenleutnant Stephan von Grosschmied Elektroquartiermeister Reinhold Haschke
Seefähnrich Paul Soupper Elektroquartiermeister Richard Metzner
Seekadett Ludwig Vamos Elektroquartiermeister Rudolf Hillisch
Seekadett Hans Fritsch Ritter von Cronenwald Fliegergast Georg Hungler
Seekadett Andreas Schivanowits Elektrogast Otto Pausewang


To a corresponding application from Fregattenleutnant Kaindl, the naval section replied that these 20 persons were not eligible for the award of the naval pilot's badge as the German training did not correspond to the Austrian regulations! In the course of this reply he was by the way "again" informed, that for the same reasons, German naval officers were not eligible, similar to the practice with the field pilot's badge in the army and he should "simply ignore" the requests of allied officers in this matter! Incidentally, the same answer concerning the award to German naval officers was also received by Ingenieur Weiss of the k.u.k. Übernahmskommission für Flugzeugmaterialen im deutschen Reich, Berlin" (acceptance commission for aircraft materiel) to his letters of September and October 1915.


In the further course of the war, the problem became ever more pressing. Numerous pilots were in action day and night at the front, were decorated, wounded or killed in action but the ministry stubbornly refused to award the naval pilot's badge as no regulated courses and examinations could be held.. At the end of 1916 a provisional compromise was found:


    "Res. Nr. 2466 of the 1st of October 1916.....Because of wartime conditions it has until now and also for the present time will not be possible to set up a course for the theoretical training of pilots as such was considered for peacetime. Therefore a substitute for the course was created through the publishing of learning aids to make possible and  facilitate the acquisition of the knowledge to meet the demands of taking the examination.....Until now only the pilots who took and passed the examination as a precondition for the appointment as a naval pilot as well as the award of the naval pilot's badge have been nominated. Since this has not been possible up to now, a feeling of inferiority has arisen between the former and the latter..."


It was therefore further determined that naval pilots as well as naval observers, provided that they had in practice acquired the corresponding skills and were deployed in corresponding positions at the front, that on application of the respective naval air station commander, they could claim for the 150 crowns monthly bonus - however not for the award of a badge!


It was however pointed out on the side of the naval section that new badges for pilots as well as for observers and award regulations adapted for wartime conditions were under consideration. As we know today, this would last two more years; the majority of the highly decorated and successful naval pilots would not live to see this.


Design Drawings for the Naval Pilot's Badge from the 1915 Files


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