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Austrian Military Colours

Österreich: Truppenfahnen

Last modified: 2015-05-06 by rob raeside
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[Austrian military colours]     [Austrian military colours]
Obverse and reverse, images by Joe McMillan

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Military Colours


Austrian line infantry units carry a "Fahne," which is white and, according to Tom Gregg's note below, about 3:4. I've found one mention that old Austro-Hungarian colors were 132 x 176 cm, which is indeed 3:4 and might still be the dimensions used. The flag has a border of black, yellow, red, and white triangular "flames." On the obverse is the federal coat of arms in full color (a black eagle with a shield on its breast, gules a fess argent); on the reverse the arms of the Land for which the regiment is named. There is a tradition of the Land government presenting the flag to its regiment or regiments. The flag is fastened to the staff by a row of ornate nails. The finial is a gilt spearhead.
Alfred Mell, Die Fahnen des österreichischen Soldaten im Wandel der Zeiten (Vienna: Bergland, 1962), p 54.
Joe McMillan, 28 January 2002

Kaindl (1975) article seems to imply that the Austrian Army uses colours which are similar to those of the 1935 pattern, but with the modern State arms, the multi-coloured border (which replaced the red and white of 1935), and the Land arms (which replaced the Madonna). Their actual size was slightly smaller, at 127 x 150cm, so the proportions are about 4:5. The regulations call for the arms on the reverse to be those of the Land where the unit is in garrison, but as units are named after their garrison, it amounts to the same thing as Joe notes above.
Ian Sumner, 30 January 2002

The ceremonial Gardebataillon (see web page with photos of the colour of the Gardebataillon) in Vienna carries the "Fahne" of the former Leibgarde Trabanten, the Emperor's personal guard, from pre-World War II days. It is similar to the "Fahne" carried by other units but has on the obverse a depiction of the Blessed Virgin Mary standing on a crescent, her head surrounded by 12 stars, the whole within a gold mandorla, or full-body halo. On the reverse is the full achievement of the Imperial Austrian coat of arms (a gold double-headed eagle with the arms of Lorraine, Austria, and Hapsburg impaled with one another on the breast, and shields of the arms of the lands of the empire displayed on the wings; the eagle imperially crowned and holding a sword and scepter in its talons).
Joe McMillan, 28 January 2002

This is in fact the former colour of the Imperial and Royal Infantry Regiment Number 4, of the 1859 pattern, and presented to the Leibgarde in 1906. But according to Steinböck, the flag currently carried is actually a reproduction of the original, which is now in the Army Museum in Vienna. From the photo, it doesn't look nearly 150 years old!
Ian Sumner, 30 January 2002

Kaindl, Franz, 'Fahnenembleme, ein Konsequenz aus der Beschaffenheit des Staatswappens' in Proceedings of the 6th
International Congress on Vexillology, Muiderberg, 1975, pp.55-61

Steinböck, Erwin, 'Die Feldzeichen der österreichischen Streitkräfte 1918-1938' in Zeitschrift für Heereskunde vol.76 (1976) pp.1-10

Austrian Infantry Regiments

During the Seven Years War, Austrian infantry regiments carried four colors: a Colonel's Color and three battalion colors. The Colonel's Color or *Leibfahne* was white with are presentation of the Virgin Mary on the obverse and the two-headed eagle of the House of Hapsburg on the reverse. The battalion colors or *Ordinaires* were yellow silk with a border of black, yellow, white and red triangles, and had the two-headed eagle of the House of Hapsburg on both sides.
The *Leibfahne* were usually embroidered and the *Ordinaires*were painted. All were rectangular, about three feet at the hoist by 4 feet on the fly.
Tom Gregg, 20 January 1997.