WORLD WAR I: 94th Aero Squadron, original plane side fabric "Hat in the Ring" from Alan Winslow's Nieuport 28.
Original Nieuport 28 painted plane side fabric with insignia, "Hat in the Ring" from Alan Winslow's Nieuport 28 Taken off the Nieuport 28, in November or December 1918.
A varnished painted canvas section from a Nieuport 28, decorated with the insignia "Hat in the Ring" for the 94th aero Squadron. The insignia showing an Uncle Sam top hat of white stars on blue with red and white stripes, surrounded by a red ring, and here with an all black Eisernes Kreuz (Iron Cross), painted in the mouth of the hat, added to cover up a bullet hole. Some light wear of the lower half of the red ring and upper left of the hat, slight scrapping of the hat, and with some cockling of the canvas surface. The roughly oblong section cut out from the plane, 860 x 620mm. Framed and glazed with museum quality name plates.
Provenance: Unknown operative working in the aircraft disposal unit at Colum Bay, France in late 1918-1919; Sold, along with many other plane insignias to an Antique shop, Anders Attic in Riverside California; about 6 of these plane sides bought by the present owner. Some now in the San Diego Air and Space Museum, this example researched and using contemporary photographs and measurements was identified as being cut from Alan Winslow's Nieuport 28, with the rib bars of the structure matching this example, and with a bullet hole on his plane, in the exact position as the added painted iron cross on this example.
An historic plane side from the Nieuport 28 of the first American pilot in an American Squadron to shoot down an enemy plane. The 94th Aero Squadron was one of the most famous flying squadrons in America's fledgling Air Arm, and the research into this piece was conducted by Alan Tolle. The 94th Aero squadron is the oldest unit in the USAF, organized in August 1917 at Kelly Field Texas, with two officers and 150 men. In September they left for training in England, and by April 1918 had been sent to the front at Toul in North Eastern France, their planes adorned with their new insignia representing the phrase, throwing one's "Hat in the ring." On April 14th two pilots, who had yet to see combat, Douglas Campbell and Alan Winslow took off to hunt down two enemy aircraft in the vicinity, and somehow just minutes later they were back at base with two victories. These were the first victories of any American flyer in World War I, for which Winslow received the DSO.
That's how it went for the 94th Aero, who achieved more aerial victories than any other American squadron, and particularly when US flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker joined them in September 1918 and added 27 victories to their total tally of 70. Alan Winslow was unfortunately shot down in July 1918, and ended up a POW until the end of the war. The Spad XIII was the chosen French plane of the 94th and 95th Aero squadrons, but due to a sudden shortage of Spads, Nieuport 28s were brought in as additional support. Lightweight and maneuverable, Rickenbacker flew a Nieuport for the final months of the war, with great results.