Welcome to Knights of the Air, a weekly series on Dieselpunks spotlighting the aces and pioneering aerial technology of World War I.
Every once in a while, I run across an image so weird I would swear it was Photoshopped (even if the photo pre-dated Photoshop by about 85 years). Knowing that the early days of photography were full of pranksters, I looked into the history of the Lafayette Escadrille (pictured below).
As a squadron of the French Air Service during World War I composed largely of volunteer fighter pilots from America, you could say that these boys were literally looking for danger. Well, here they are assembled for a photograph outside their barracks at Chaudun, France being upstaged by their pet lion cubs, Whiskey and Soda.
Seated fourth from the left is the Escadrille’s French commanding officer, Captain Georges Thenault.
Raoul Lufbery, the unit’s top-ranking ace with 17 victories is seated fourth from the the right.