Men at arms

“Skywalker” soldiers

The Air Force as a weapon was formed in the Monarchy like in other countries just before the Great War. At first, the planes sent to the air were mainly engaged in artillery reconnaissance. This was quite similar to the activity of observers ascending with gas-filled balloons, which had been exemplified in all the major wars for many decades at the time. It is clear that compared to the fixed balloon, which continued to be used, a much larger area could be covered with mobile aircraft. The observer behind the pilot was also able to take photographs of the enemy positions and facilities behind the frontline.

As the war progressed, air bombing missions and specialized larger-capacity aircraft appeared. At the same time, fighter planes also appeared, which, unlike the previous practice, were designed to accommodate only one “skywalker” soldier, and their task was essentially only to destroy enemy air objects.

The wide variety of aircraft and missions can easily give the impression that most of the “skywalkers” were soldiers actually trained to fly. This is clearly not the case, as the technical maintenance and ground handling of the machines was a complex and voluminous task. Thus, the number of ground service personnel was many times higher than that of the “skywalkers”. Yet, they are hardly mentioned, the laurels are harvested by the pilots.

I found it useful to describe all this to interpret the attached photo. In the picture we see a private with the collar badge of the “skywalker” army branch and an aircraft cap badge described earlier here. The ground crew, of course, felt as proud of the flight successes and mourned over the fate of the “skywalkers” who died in the air warfare as did those directly involved in the fighting. Maintenance workers often came into a kind of emotional connection with the device, the plane. So it’s no surprise that they also wore flying cap badges.

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