Flieger Mannschaft (Other Ranks)
Shoulder Straps
1910 - 1918
From the initial establishment of the provisional flying school at Dobertiz in July 1910 until the official establishment of the Flieger Battalions in 1913, Mannschaft (Other Ranks) of the Flieger-Versuchs-Anstalt wore the Dunkelblau (dark blue) uniform of the Luftschiffer-Bataillons, only without the "L" on the light gray shoulder straps. These plain light gray straps with dark blue backings would date from April 1, 1912. The winged propeller was added to the straps after July 4, 1913 when the Flieger-Bataillons 2-4 were created. There were only five Flieger battalions prior to the out-break of war, with four Prussian and one Bavarian Battalion being commissioned on 01 Oct 1913. The light grey enlisted shoulder strap for Prussian units was without piping and had a Battalion number of 1 to 4 under the propeller cypher. These straps are backed in dark blue to match the Waffenrock color. Bavaria retained only one Flieger Battalion so it therefore did not utilize the addition of a Battalion number. The Bavarian Flieger Battalion strap was red with a yellow embroidered "F".
A Note on Tunic Patterns
Contrary to myth, there was only one M1907/10 tunic worn by German Fliegertruppen Mannschaften (Other Ranks). The features of the M1910 Feldrock (Field grey tunic) followed very closely the Dunkelblau pre-war pattern, in that it had Swedish cuffs, white collar and cuff Litzen, with black piping on the collar and cuffs and red piping down the front and rear skirts and silver/grey buttons. Without exception, Mannschaft attached to Flieger wore this pattern or Feldrock. The only exception to this, is the Mannschaft Litewka or the service crews for the aircraft who wore the same working tunic as worn pre-war by the Eisenbahner, called an Arbeits-Kittel. Only officers assigned to Flieger units prior to and during the war, wore the tunics of their previous units.
Because of their late introduction, these units had the unusual distinction of coming into existence after the 1907/10 regulations for the new field grey tunics. According to regulations regarding the new Flieger Battalions, the straps for the M07/10 tunic would now be field grey, but also piped in light grey to denote the color of the Dunkelblau strap. This M1910 strap is for FEA 3.
During the period of 1914 to 1915, the emergence of the un-piped field grey strap known as the Vereinfachte (simplified) strap also influenced the Flieger Battalions, and soon field grey straps void of piping, with (Prussia) or without (Bavaria) a number appeared. At this time, the Flieger Battalions were changed to FEA (Flieger-Ersatz-Abtielung) (Flyer Replacement Detachment). These Abtielung provided soldiers for the various flying units. This Vereinfachte strap is for FEA 1.
AKO 735 dated 21 Sept 1915 introduced the new Feldgrauer Kriegs-und Friedensuniform (Field Grey War and Peacetime uniforms). The enlisted Flieger shoulder strap was now once again entirely light grey, without piping and carried the propeller and number (for FEA units only) as per the regulation regarding the M07/10 waffenrock. Bavaria adopted similar regulations 01 April 1916. This Model 1915 strap is for FEA 3.
This example of the Model 1915 Flieger shoulder strap for FEA 9 has the number cut from felt, rather than chain-stitched which is more typical.
Another example of the Model 1915 Flieger shoulder strap. This FEA 10 example appears to have been sewn into the shoulder seam, rather than on top of the seam as per regulations.
Enlisted Model 1915 shoulder strap
for FEA 12.
Normally, a soldier attached to a flight unit could still retain his numbered FEA strap, or utilize the service strap which was void of a number. Both are encountered in photographs. The strap shown here is typical for any one of the Flieger Abteilung serving in the field.