Original French Pre-WWII Armée de l'Air French Air Force Aerial Observer Badge

Item Description

Original Items: Only One Available. This is a fantastic inter war era French Air Force Aerial Observer badge. The WWI examples of these are almost nearly identical to this one in appearance, the only difference being the “Winged Star” is off center and the top wreath does not have a star present on it.

The badge itself features a German style Oak leaves laurel with a bow at the bottom center, the gilt Winged Star in the center and another gilt star applied at the top center. The badge is in wonderful condition, though it does show age, wear and tarnish. The “barbell” type fastening bar is unfortunately missing and the points of the top center star are bent inwards slightly, almost wrapping around the laurel.

A wonderful, rather scarce example ready for further research and display.

The Armée de l'Air (literally, 'army of the air') is the name used for the French Air Force in its native language since it was made independent of the Army in 1933. This article deals exclusively with the history of the French air force from its earliest beginnings until its destruction after the occupation of France. French naval aviation, the Aéronautique Navale is covered elsewhere.

The end of war may have brought peace to France, yet the country itself and its infrastructure had been ravaged by four years of warfare, and the scars left behind were not just physical. As a result, it took some time for industry to recover. Not unexpectedly, orders for military aeroplanes dropped after the Armistice, resulting in reductions being made to squadron strengths.

France had a Colonial empire extending around the globe, and it needed to be defended. Anti-Government elements in French Morocco were clamouring to expel the French. On 27 April 1925, therefore, alongside tactical and logistical support, air operations in Morocco were begun owing to the Rif War and they were to continue until December 1934.

In the 1930s, the French aeronautical industry was primarily composed of small companies such as Latécoère, Morane-Saulnier, Nieuport-Delage and Amiot, each only producing small numbers of aircraft. As a result, the French aeronautical industry proved itself incapable of delivering the aircraft that the annual fiscal budgets had called for which had been greatly increased as a result of AH coming to power in January 1933 and his remilitarization of Germany in defiance of the Allies and the Treaty of Versailles.

Pierre Cot, the secretary of the French Air Force, decreed that national security was too important for the production of warplanes to be left in the hands of the private enterprises that were thus far failing to meet production goals. In July 1936 the French government began nationalizing many of the larger aircraft companies, creating six state-owned companies, which encompassed the majority of aeronautical production, and regrouping those companies to their geographical regions. Bloch was nationalized in January 1937. However, the aircraft engine industry, even as it proved incapable of providing the badly needed powerful engines, escaped nationalization.

By 1937, it was clear that more modern aircraft were needed, since the air force was still flying relatively antiquated aircraft like the Dewoitine D.500 and orders to construct more than 2,500 modern machines, among them the Bloch MB.170 bomber and the Dewoitine D.520 fighter resulted. The inadequacy of the French aeronautical programs, as well as indecision in high command resulted in the French Air Force being in a position of weakness, confronting a modern and well organized Luftwaffe, which had just gained combat experience in the Spanish Civil War.

France attempted to respond to the likelihood of another European war via an intensive re-equipment and modernization program in 1938–39, as did other countries desperately in need of new aircraft including Poland whose 1939 orders of 160 MS-406 fighters from France still hadn't been delivered by the German invasion of Poland. Germany production outstripped that of its neighbours, so it was a question of "too little, too late" as far as the French – as well as the whole continent of Europe – were concerned.

An attempt was made to purchase the latest American bombers and fighters – or at least fighter planes. American planes were 50% more expensive than French models, and no superior models were for sale. U.S. law required cash purchases, and the French finance ministry opposed using its gold reserves for this purpose. French labor unions refused to lengthen its 40-hour week, and were strongly opposed to imports that would reverse the growth of jobs in the French defense industry. In any case, the American aviation industry was too small and too committed to orders from American forces to be of any help. Inevitably, the French industrial response fell far behind the German threat. The British aircraft industry was working all out to rearm British forces.

  • This product is available for international shipping.
  • Eligible for all payments - Visa, Mastercard, Discover, AMEX, Paypal & Sezzle


Cash For Collectibles