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Austro-Hungarian Empire: Austro-Hungarian Naval Jack

Last modified: 2014-04-12 by rob raeside
Keywords: austro-hungarian empire |
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Austro-Hungarian Naval Jack

What did the Austro-Hungarian Navy use as a jack? I know that there were two ensigns, the first with just the crowned Austrian arms and the second (used 1915-1918, if I remember correctly) with both the Austrian and the Hungarian arms. Was the jack the same as the ensign, or was something different used?
Tom Gregg, 19 January 1998

For both designs, the general design of the jack was the same as the ensign, except: 1. the jacks were smaller, 2. the ensigns were 2:3, the jacks 4:5, 3. The offset towards the hoist was somewhat more in the case of the jack in the first pattern and considerably less in the case of the second pattern. Source: Lothar Baumgartner, Die Entwicklung der Oesterreichischen Marineflagge, 1977 [bmg77]
Norman M. Martin, 19 January 1998

Meyers (1897) gives the jack (Gösch) to be the same as the "Kriegsflagge", and the Kriegsflagge (War ensign) is very well known red-white-red with (one) arms. At the same time the merchant (i.e. civil) ensign was "dual" with half green stripe and two arms.

According to National Geographic 1917, the war ensign was added the second arms, but without the green half-stripe. I don't have the it by hand, so I don't know if it mentions the jack, but I believe so. I am not quite sure if this variant ensign was official (or even if NG forgot the green stripe), and I don't have any firm data on this. The jacks were, like the German jacks, as a rule smaller in size than ensigns, possibly with different proportions, but I don't have reference to back up this claim. However, I believe there is an article in Militaria Austriaca (1977) regarding the development of the Austrian ensigns [bmg77]. 
Željko Heimer, 21 January 1998

The jack (and boat ensign) are apparently rather "lightly" treated in most sources. In both the 1894 and the 1915 series of flags it is similar to the war ensign of the time, but in the ratio 4:5 (and slightly moved position of the coats of arms). But did the pre-1894 jack also following these rules, as Meyers (1897) [whatever the date it apparently shows the pre-1895 flags] suggested, but since when? Was the jack introduced at the same time as the war ensign, in 1786 (although the war ensign, or ensigns very similar to it were sporadically in use before that date, 1786 seems the date of definitive adoption of the red-white-red flag for the Austrian Navy).
Željko Heimer, 1 December 2001

The Austrian red-white-red flag was adopted on 20 March 1786, effective 1 Jan 1787. There is no explicit reference to the adoption of the jack. The matter is additionally complicated by the fact that the Austrians did not refer to it as the Gösch (jack) but instead as the version of the Kriegsflagge flown from the bow. I suspect its use dates from 1786 or not much later. There may indeed be no date of adoption, but rather a customary usage of using a smaller flag from the bow.
Norman Martin, 2 December 2001

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