WORLD WAR I: LAFAYETTE ESCADRILLE.
A painted fuselage from the Lafayette Escadrille. [France: c.1916-18.] A dark grey-green canvas plane panel, painted with the familiar Indian head insignia, with the full headress, mouth open and teeth showing, lettered "Escadrille Lafayette" at lower left, and with a small applique cloth, marked with a German iron cross added on lower left (to denote one downed German plane), evidence of part of a number at upper right. 17.5 x 29.5 inches (450 x 780mm). The paint slightly chipped, and tears appearing along some old vertical crease lines. Framed.
AN HISTORIC AND RARE AMERICAN FLYING INSIGNIA, probably recovered as a momento from one of the French made Spads used by the American volunteer pilots flying in the Lafayette Escadrille. The Layfayette Escadrille was a unit created by the French Air Department in March 1916, under the command of French officers and with Brench mechanics, but staffed by volunteer overseas pilots, largely American, with 39 volunteer pilots from the USA, and of these, 19 were killed in action. During World War I, some 200 American pilots were trained by the French in aerial tactics, and deployed in various French flying squadrons. In March 1918, with the USA entering the war on the ground, the Lafayette squadron was, in effect, taken over by the US Air Service, and the 12 American pilots who transferred, provided important front line experience. The squadron was renamed, the 103rd Aero Squadron.