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  #1  
Old 21-02-22, 03:20 PM
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Default WW1 era RAF officer badges

I am sure this has been answered before somewhere, but could someone show the difference between the early RAF officer cap badges and the WW2 era cap badges? I believe the earliest had gilt metal wreaths at the bottom, but were there wire bullion as well?

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Old 21-02-22, 06:09 PM
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The Royal Air Force officers cap badge was first authorised for use from 17th April 1918, under Air Ministry Order A.83/18. These original badges were made by Gaunt and had three main parts (the crown, the eagle and fronds (not a wreath, fronds being palm leaves)) in gilt metal on a wool backing, with each piece riveted to a metal backing plate. The back of the badge had a gilt Gaunt 'medallion. These are generally known as 'Gaunt 1st Pattern badges' (see below).

Within a year or so badges in bullion were being produced, most likely to be because of cost or manufacturer variation as opposed to a specific order, and these remained essentially the same through to the early 1950s when the crown changed upon HM Queen ascending to the throne. The shapes of badges can give an indication to age, with many early badges being more oval or teardrop in shape, but its not a specific dating rule. Likewise, some early badges had the four fronds in more of a 'V' shape at the bottom, instead of curving upwards.

Due to a shortage of the gold bullion that badges of all three services were made with, 'economy' badges were introduced in April 1944 (for the RAF) with the three pieces again made in gilt metal, but now secured by bend over 'prongs', the backing of the badges being a thick hessian type material to give rigidity. Obviously stocks of these 'economy' badges were used well after the end of WW2. There were also 'semi-economy' badges produced with metal crown and eagle but bullion fronds, or bullion crown but metal eagle and fronds. You occasionally see badges with bullion crown, eagle and fronds but these tend to be theatre made.
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Old 21-02-22, 06:15 PM
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Whoops, forgot these...!
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Old 21-02-22, 09:30 PM
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Thanks for that. I rarely see those early Gaunt badges. I take it then that there is no definite way to determine if a bullion badge was made in 1920 or 1940.

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Old 22-02-22, 07:45 AM
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Yes shape of Fronds, Padre mentioned in his post, but it is hard to visualise until you see them side by side, to add to this and causes me confusion is Commonwealth Officer’s Badges Australian Fronds angle Upwards (as a rule).

Was there a way to tell by Crown’s Jewels? I thought the Colour’s and Orientation?

Will try and post some photo’s over the weekend, all the best Billy
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Old 22-02-22, 12:20 PM
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There was some official notes relating to jewel colours around 1921. The early 'Gaunt 1st Issue' generally had the shapes of the jewels but they were not coloured. Then some were produced with the five jewels coloured, being (L - R) 'red/green/red/green/red.' Someone suggested that the centre jewel, to be accurate should be blue, and there was discussion in official circles within the Admiralty and Air Ministry (and possibly the War Office), with the result that the centre jewel was changed to blue (thus 'red/green/blue/green/red'). So you can generally date badges that have a red central jewel on the crown to the 1921/22 era. However, that's not to say at other later periods a maker might produce a badge with a red jewel that was technically incorrect.

As for badge types, here are a few...

Three RAF British made RAF Officers cap badges. (L - R) early c-1921 2nd type in bullion with teardrop shape and central red jewel; Standard issue with bullion crown and fronds and gilt eagle, as issued from c-mid 1920s to early 1950s; WW2 economy issue with all gilt pieces.
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Old 22-02-22, 12:32 PM
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WW2 era part economy badges with a mixture of gilt and bullion crown and fronds. I don't know for certain if any company ever produced these say, in the 1920s or 30s, but its unlikely as bullion crown and fronds was the approved pattern. However, as the bullion was running out / ran out during WW2 it resulted in these 'half and half' badges. Its also likely that in the immediate post war era companies used up the gilt 'economy' components.

As an example of the order that went around to certain commands was one that was sent to the Air Training Corps in early April 1944, when peaked caps were authorised for the first time for officers. '...Officers are notified that, owing to an acute shortage of the gold wire used in officers' cap badges in all three services, a cap badge made of other materials is now generally available which is almost indistinguishable from the standard pattern...' (Air Training Corps Instruction A.263/44)
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Old 22-02-22, 12:36 PM
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A pair of theatre made badges. The badge on the left is Indian made for the Royal Air Force and / or Indian Air Force, in standard pattern, the other possibly Indian made, or Middle Eastern, with sand cast components in base metal/brass.
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Old 22-02-22, 12:41 PM
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As for foreign made examples, these are Australian made and both WW2 era. The teardrop shape of the left hand example is common, and the gilt components on the heavily padded base of the right hand type is very distinctive. The shape of the eagle is also distinct once you know what you're looking for.
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Old 22-02-22, 12:44 PM
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WW2 Canadian made badges being (L - R) standard type in bullion with gilt eagle; Part economy with bullion and gilt components, and a full economy version. The fat eagle is the distinct giveaway on Canadian made badges.
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Last edited by Padre; 23-02-22 at 05:42 PM.
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  #11  
Old 23-02-22, 06:39 AM
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Fantastic collection, thanks for sharing.
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