Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Knights of the Air: The pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille and their pet lions

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.

Lafayette Escadrille

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.

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Comment by Pablo J. Alvarez on March 29, 2012 at 9:21pm

It's hard to accept, that do not survive one of those who formed the squad at the beginning.

Comment by lord_k on March 29, 2012 at 5:59pm

Standing, left to right are Soubiron, Doolittle, Campbell, Persons, Bridgman, Dugan, MacMonagle, Lowell, Willis, Jones, Peterson and de Maison-Rouge (French Deputy Commander). Seated, left to right are Hill, Masson with "Soda" lion cub; Thaw, Thenault (the French Commander), Lufbery with "Whiskey" lion cub; Johnson, Bigelow and Rockwell. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Comment by Eric Langlois on March 29, 2012 at 2:38pm

I'd like to know how well they got on with the Jack Russell at the far right.

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