WW1 TURKISH AIR TROOPS
1913 Ottoman Pilot's Uniform
Right - The uniform of Fethi Bey, one of the 1913 early Ottoman pilots (displayed in the Turkish Military Museum), this appears to have:
- Blue edged green cloth (matching the uniform tunic) shoulder boards.
- Large silver 'airplane' badges added to the collar.
Right - Large silver 'airplane' badges added to the collar, of the Fethi Bey, 1913 early Ottoman pilots (above).
NOTE: THE PLATE'S TAIL OF THE BADGE HAS BEEN BROKEN AND BENT OVER (THE REST OF THE BADGE).
1913 Balloon Troops
The Balloon Troop, set up in 1913 (with the first flight test in Yesilkoy on July 23, 1913), operated a Parseval PL-9 (pictured Right - note the nose is painted with a white star and crescent
- A balloon shed was reported built in Adrianople, in 1914 .
- The Balloon Troop was reported in Damascus, 1914-15 during the winter .
 British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press, Nashville: 178.
 Ibid. "Part of the VIII Army Corps (Damascus) 'Air Company'."
1913 Balloon Troops' Collar Badge
1914 Air Troops
Turkish Airforce National Markings
According to the Aerodrome website the Ottoman Empire entered the war in October of 1914, it had less than a
dozen military aircraft.
- These were identified by red rudders marked with a white crescent and five-point star, in the design of the Ottoman flag.
- The crescent was open to the rudder’s trailing edge on both sides. No fuselage markings were carried. One of these aircraft, a Deperdussin, is known to have carried the crescent-and-star marking
on the underside of the wing.
- Some of the early Ottoman aircraft, including L.V.G. B.Is and Bleriots, carried a red-white-red roundel on the underside of the starboard wing and the crescent-and-star on their rudders. This is
most likely a pre-war marking scheme and was abandoned by mid-1915, the potential for confusion being obvious.
As Germany began to supply aircraft in substantial numbers (1915 – 1918), the Ottoman markings were changed:
- These were a black square surrounded by a thin white border. This was painted over the German crosses on wings, fuselages and rudders and matched the various cross styles in size and
Gotha seaplanes, some two dozen of which were supplied to the Ottoman Empire:
- These retained the crescent-and-star markings throughout the war. These were carried at the wingtips on the upper and lower surfaces of both wings, and on the rudder. The design was mirrored from
port to starboard wing, so that the crescent was always open to the wingtip and the star outboard.
1915 (Till 1930) Ottoman Turkish Air Pilots' Hat Badge
1930 Use of Badge
Right - As can be seen in this 1930s picure of a Republic of Turkey Air Force officer, Kamil Bey, who had served in WW1; he wears the WW1 –sized badge on his peak cap, in the 1930s. As well, a
later post 1936 version, with star and crescent badge conforming to the 1936 flag law (that established the current pattern for the Turkish national flag), is known. However, it is not known if this
is a uniform item or a post-50s produced "collectable".
1915 Ottoman Turkish Air Pilots' Graduation Badges
Below - Wartime example of the Ottoman Turkish pilots' badges, have an elongated iron star, and crescent/wings part-fitting (pictured above), and this seems to be represented more in original
photos of pilots in WW1, than the all bronze stumper wings type. And there are one-offs, with high quality enamel workmanship.
- There was no official issue of these, but we know that they were being used from 1915 onward.
- The pilots' badges would have to be considered to hold only semi-official status, as there was never any official law or decree instituting them, and no examples of award documents are known to
- It is possible that they were authorized by Enver Pasha (as was the 1915 War Medal), with the intention of having them fully authorized by the Sultan at a later date.
- It appears that this later authorization never occurred.
There should not be a large number of period badges in existence.
- As the Ottoman Air troops in 1916 had 81 Pilots and Observers, and by 1918 had about 260 planes in use.
- The German troops (who I seem to have acquired these badges as well), consisted of some 400 personnel and 460 planes.
- Including casualties and replacing lost badges in the period, there could only less than 1000 (including replacements, and multiple ownership of sveral badges, by a single pilot) to have been
Most comentators, note that examples can be found in a number of varieties, made of bronze, silver, and sometimes zinc.
- Many have German maker marks or silver marks, but Turkish made pieces (if indeed there were any made in Turkey) are not known to have hallmarks of any kind.
- The lack of hallmarks reflects the fact that these pilot badges were not struck by the Ottoman Imperial Mint.
There is a silver Pilots' Badge with a maker's mark for Paul Meybauer in Berlin (a shield with a crown on top).
- Robert S. Pandis. (2012) Volume II - The German Navy and Central Powers Air Services, has a section covering the Ottoman Air Troops Air Pilot's Badge.
- The fundamental fault with the information contained in this book is that it proports to build a case that the only correct badge used, in WW1 was the 'Meybauer Ottoman Flyer's
Badge'. And that there is only one known example supposively used in this period.
- However, this particular badge, is inordinately common, suggesting they may have been produced in far greater numbers at the end of the war, than were actually sold or worn by eligible
recipients. As well, this has been extensively faked over the years.
The Ottoman Turkish Government suppressed the circulation of gold and silver in 1914, and this effected Medals made from this as well; as the British General Staff's
1916 Turkish Army Handbook notes: "the stock [gold or silver Liakat medal] is now exhausted, and that no more will be issued." (pg 140).
- Thus, wartime medals are going to be made from bronze, zinc or iron; and nickel (as many of the Turkish made 1915 War Medals are).
- For example, as nickel was substituted in 1914 for silver in making of coins; illustrating a common heritage for the the 1915 War Medals, as having been made at the Ottoman Imperial Mint as
- This suggests that a turkish version would be made in cast brass as was common with other uniform insignia worn at the time.
The final point is that many wartime pictures of Turkish pilots, actually show them acually wearing the Imperial German (Prussian) Pilot's badge instead of the Turkish version.
1916 Air Troops
Right - Ottoman anti-aircraft guns at Gallipoli (c.1915).
- The Ottomans after 1915 transferred a number of artillery units/soldiers into the new Air Branch, to help form the Anti-Aircraft batteries.
- As can be seen the officer pictured with these guns has Fortress Artillery collar insignia.
There has never been any indication as to what type of insignia, the Artillery in the Air Troops wore (if any); and this picture (below) has a close resemblance to the type of insignia adopted by
the Germans in WW1 for their anti-aircraft guns: Flak Batteries (illustrated below).
Left - This WW1 Ottoman Fortress Artillery junior officer, wears some unusual insignia combinations: