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WWI Senior Pilot ?

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#1 ram957

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Posted 20 December 2018 - 11:20 AM

I was just watching 'A Guy Named Joe" on TCM....In the movie The General, played by Lionel Barrymore, is dressed in a WWI Aviators uniform. The uniform has what looks like a Dallas Type wing with a star above the wing(it looks sewn onto the backing of the wing)....I'm assuming that this is just Hollywood artistic license since the Senior Pilot rating was established on Dec. 23, 1937...I just thought it was interesting and am wondering if Pilots wore the star before the "Official" establishment of the rating.

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#2 5thwingmarty

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Posted 20 December 2018 - 11:34 AM

The Military Aviator badge was changed to an embroidered wing with a star above it in October of 1917.

#3 bobgee



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Posted 20 December 2018 - 11:46 AM

As I recall the Star over the wing meant Senior Military Aviator as opposed to Reserve Military Aviator which almost all WWI era pilots were. Lionel Barrymore was depicting Billy Michell I believe. Bobgee

#4 5thwingmarty

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 04:49 PM

"Senior Military Aviator" was never a rating.  From 1917 to 1921 the ratings for airplane pilots were either "Military Aviator", "Junior Military Aviator" or "Reserve Military Aviator", with the "Military Aviator" badge having the star above the wing and the other two having the wing without the star. 


In 1921 the ratings were changes and they only had a rating for "Airplane Pilot" and the official badge was the wing without the star.  I believe there has been discussion that many of the pilots that had used the wings with the star before the change continued to use wings with the stars even though it was not an approved badge.


In 1937 they added a rating for "Military Airplane Pilot" and reinstated the badge with the star for this rating.


In 1940 they changed the ratings to "Senior Pilot" and "Pilot" and also added the "Command Pilot" rating.

#5 mil.htg.medals

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 08:41 PM

Drives me crazy to see this photo of the Medal of Honor ribbon placed upside down... grrr. My understanding of the star over the wings is that it became a standard only AFTER the full-wing badge was approved for Reserve Military Aviators. I've seen 'Dallas' and 'Link' style wings with the star. Oh, how I wish to have one someday for my collection. Source:"Thirty Years of US Army Pilot Wings 1917-1947"; Chas. Fitzsimmons, 1994

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