Blue Service Dress to a Capitaine-Commandant of the Belgian Air Force Baron Paul Rolin
(uniform courtesy of Ernesto Vitetti collection)

The officer's visor hat is made of a similar blue grey wool to the uniorm and features the national cockade and air force symbol. The national cockade was three concentric rings of black, yellow and red, the colors of Belgium. The pre-war branch of service device consistss of a winged, mirrored "L" (for Leopold) framing the Roman numeral III. This is surmounted by the royal crown. The chin cord is gold bullion with a not at each end and attached by gilt buttons.
On the left sleeve we see the actual pilot designation of the winged cypher. Only pilots and observers were allowed to wear this device. Officer's wore gold and NCO's wings were silver. The insignia in this location developed from the practice of wearing a sleeve cuff with a metal brassard during WWI. It then became the bullion insignia we see here. Only the Belgians and the early Soviet uniforms wore their wings this way. The bars each stand for 6 months of war service during WWI.
The Belgian Air Force uniform went through a major modernisation program in 1939. The open collar blue uniform was closely modeled on the British RAF style and color. This was a transition from the previous army brown and an indication of the air force becoming a more independent force. The original force was founded as an element of the Army in 1920. Not many of these uniforms were produced prior to hostilities and Belgium developed a national coat of arms insignia during the war to replace the cypher of the King, Leopold III. Hence all uniforms after 1948 transitioned to the new national insignia of the winged lion, shield and crown.

*Click on any picture to see full size.
A closer view of the collar area highlights the collar rank of the Capitaine- Commandant (Captain or Flight Lieutenant equivilant) of three stars surmounted by a bar. The officer, a WWI veteran is highly decorated. From the top he has,
Row 1: The order of King Leopold II Officer grade with swords
Row 2: Order of Leopold Officer with silver palm, Order of the Crown, Officer, with silver palm.
Row 3: Order of Leopold II, Croix de Guerre 1914-18, The Yser Medal, The Volunteer Combatant's Medal 1914-18
Row 4: The Fire Cross 1914-18, WWI Victory Medal, The War Commemorative Medal 1914-18, British Air Force Cross (WWI ribbon)
On the right sleeve are three silver bars in bullion thread. Each represents a wound received during the war.

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