2018 World War I Air Service Medal Designs Reviewed


In 2018, the United States Mint will issue five World War I silver medals in conjunction with silver dollars commemorating the centennial of America’s involvement in the war. The medals will celebrate the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. One of them will honor the U.S. Air Service.

Recommended Air Service Silver Medal Designs - Obverse and Reverse
CFA and CCAC recommended Air Service Silver Medal Designs – obverse and reverse

Proposed designs for the five medals were reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) on March 16 and by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) on March 21.

Air Services Medal Recommendations

For the Air Services Silver Medal, the U.S. Mint presented 16 possible designs with 8 obverses and 8 reverses. After looking at them all, the CFA and CCAC recommended the same obverse and reverse artwork.

Their selected obverse design was actually submitted for consideration as a reverse (AIR-R-06). It depicts a SPAD XIII, viewed from the top and side, with added inscriptions of "SPAD XIII" to identify the aircraft, along with "AIR SERVICE" and "AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES."

Their chosen reverse, AIR-R-08, shows the Military Aviator insignia. Both panels suggested moving some of the medal’s text from the obverse to the reverse.

Air Services Medal Design Candidates

All of the obverse candidates and U.S. Mint descriptions of them follow.

Air Service Silver Medal Design Candidates - Obverses
Air Service Silver Medal Design Candidates – Obverses

AIR-O-01 features a SPAD XIII attacking the enemy with machine guns blazing. An allegorical Bald Eagle emerges from the clouds as master of the skies.

AIR-O-02 shows an aviator with a winged propeller, inspired by an Air Service insignia, honoring American Expeditionary Forces air combat units. The compass represents their power and precision in all directions.

AIR-O-03 features an Air Service pilot with a heraldic winged shield inspired by the Military Aviator Insignia. Laurel branches represent victory and honor.

AIR-O-04 depicts two American pilots in a dogfight against the enemy over the European countryside. The WWI Air Service insignia is included at the bottom of the design.

AIR-O-05 shows a WWI Pilot with the silhouette of three SPAD XIII airplanes in the background.

AIR-O-06 features a WWI aviator.

AIR-O-07 represents a WWI Fighter Ace. The "A" stands for Ace and is formed with the prop of a plane and aviator wings from the Military Aviator Insignia. Five stars represent the five combat kills that qualify an aviator as a Fighter Ace.

AIR-O-08 depicts a trio of American pilots heading into action.

All of the reverse candidates and U.S. Mint descriptions of them follow.

Air Service Silver Medal Design Candidates - Reverses
Air Service Silver Medal Design Candidates – Reverses

AIR-R-01 depicts a dedicated team of pilots, commanding officers, mechanics, and ground crew posing in front of a SPAD XIII. An allegorical Bald Eagle stands ready in the background.

AIR-R-02 depicts a Bald Eagle holding an oak leaf in its beak, representing the courage and strength of American air defense. The SPAD XIII honors the outstanding mobility of the squadrons in air combat. Five stars represent the aerial victories of WWI Fighter Aces.

AIR-R-03, symbolizing the power and importance of the Air Service, depicts a winged hand clutching a blade of thunder with an eagle head on its pommel. The composition also includes a SPAD XIII, five stars representing Fighter Aces and laurel branches signifying honor and victory.

AIR-R-04 features an Air Service pilot standing near his SPAD XIII.

AIR-R-05 dramatically portrays a SPAD XIII in a dogfight with two German triplanes over the French countryside.

AIR-R-06 portrays a SPAD XIII, viewed from the top and side. The additional inscription "SPAD XIII" identifies the aircraft.

AIR-R-07 features a Fighter Ace standing next to his plane, leaning on the wing.

AIR-R-08 features the Military Aviator Insignia.

2018 World War I Armed Forces Silver Medals

Artists for the U.S. Mint created more than 60 design candidates for the five 2018 World War I Armed Forces Silver Medals. The other four medals will commemorate the Army (see Army medal designs), Navy (see Navy medal designs), Marines (see Marines medal designs) and Coast Guard (see Coast Guard medal designs).

In addition, there is the possibility of one more medal. The CCAC asked for a sixth to honor women whom served during the war.

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I’m still curious as to who the medals will be awarded to unless I totally misunderstand the purpose of a medal. I mean traditionally a medal is awarded for bravery or service or some such so who do they expect to give the medal to or will these medals be awarded posthumously?


The designs are from very simple to overdone.

Chas Barber

How about a medal for the almost 10,000 MIA’s from KOREA the forgotten war…?.