First awarded in 1813 for “extreme battlefield bravery or outstanding Leadership” - it was created by Prussian King Frederick Wilhelm III (during The Napoleonic Wars). The Award came to symbolize Germany in all of it's future wars. Divided into 5 Classes, (with 1st Class being the lowest). The basic design was a Black Metal Maltese Cross, surmounted by a Crown. The year of issue was etched directly below (on the lower Cross flange). Many Imperial War Pilots earned all 5 classes of The Iron Cross for action “in The Skies”. Although many of The Iron Cross designed were changed from 1939 to 1945 (WWII), a “similar” design is still used as an Award.