Extra classic photo, extra classic badge! The photo depicts one of the planes of the 26th flight company, with its crew. This unit was put up in Straßhof in Austria in early 1916. From May, the unit served on the Eastern Front in division reconnaissance actions. It first settled at Horodenka and then at Zastavna airports. After the Russian armistice, the company was relocated to the Italian front. They took part in the Piave offensive in June 1918.
Judging by the environment, the photo may have been taken at one of the airports on the Eastern Front and show nicely the details of the plane and the code number (perhaps based on that, readers can decipher who is sitting in the plane?). The machine is a Hansa-Brandenburg C-I, which I have written about here before.
The badge is very special. The Budapest company of Márkus Berger made a completely similar one, but with the Austrian eagle in the upper part and below the Hungarian crown. That badge was mostly made as a full plate badge, but there were also cut out silver copies of it. I’ve only seen the badge of this post twice before, one in an auction catalog and another in an early article about Kappenabzeichen. I wasn’t sure if it really was a badge that existed, or rather a “fantasy piece” made today. The skull in place of the eagle was very reminiscent of today’s “fictional” assault badges. At the same time, the enamel coat of arms below has made the construction unnecessarily complicated for today’s “entrepreneurs”. But recently the badge reappeared at an auction. Now I am inclined that this is also an original piece. If it really is, it is extremely rare.