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World War One Weekly Wing #37

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World War One

Weekly Wing #37

Bullion Naval Aviator




Finding bullion Naval Aviator badges from the WW1 era is a challenge.  This scarcity is possibly do to the fact that although regulations stipulated wear of bullion wings on aviation green uniforms, there is ample photographic evidence that metal wing badges were frequently substituted for their bullion cousins.  There also does not seem to have been the "wing badge arms race" among USN Aviators as evidenced by their Army Air Service brethren.  Many Army Aviators seemed to wear their wings in a friendly competition to out-do each other while simultaneously pushing the bounds of what the Captain might allow... For its part in the matter, the USN seems to have maintained uniform discipline somewhat better--at least with respect to the young Naval Aviators.  There are a few wild World War One era Naval Aviator badges, but those are the exception, not the general rule as it was for the Army.  Regardless, in this early era, designs had less familiarity and finality, while embroiderers often added a bit of artistic license to their craft.






Executed almost entirely in smooth gold bullion, the only exceptions being a gold bullion coil for the rope, surrounding the shield and separating the chief from the field, and faceted gold bullion used for highlights (a hoop on either side of the stock and four stripes in the shield.  The wings have a somewhat wide or stumpy appearance with ten large feathers individually picked out in smooth bullion. 




The wings and shield are hand embroidered.  There is a white cheese-cloth backing.




Sew on.


Notes:  There is a clue as to the origin of this badge.  It was removed from a badly mothed-out Naval Aviation (Lieutenant) uniform manufactured by Browning King and Co of Washington DC; a fairly prominent Washington military tailor.  The uniform was un-named.  It is not however known if this badge was made by Browning King and Co or if they subcontracted the bullion work.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not sure if the bullion Aviator wing on this unnamed Navy Ensign's high-collar coat qualifies as a WWI example?  But it does seem to fit the WWI to mid-1920's era...

(Note the left-facing eagle on the bell-crown.)




USN Bullion Aviator 1.jpg

USN Bullion Aviator 2.jpg



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Really handsome wing and jacket.  I love how the bullion has toned and the unique design characteristics of the badge.  At first glance, it appears evocative of a standard WW2 wing yet the more you look at it, the more unique eccentricities of the design are revealed.   The faceted bullion must be real gold, and of a fairly high karat to have remained so bright.  Really beautiful.


The USN high-collar jacket was on its way out by 1919-20 to be replaced by the much more popular lapel coat.  If this one somehow doesn't qualify as a WW1 wing per-se, it certainly is within "spittin' distance."


Thanks for sharing!




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