Fabric, Insignia, Lafayette Escadrille, French Air Service

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

Insignia of the Lafayette Escadrille painted on the standard clear-doped and varnished linen fabric used by the French Air Service in 1917. This fabric was donated in October 1941, by Denton Strongman Peterson of Washington, D.C., along with a "kicking mule" insignia from the 95th Aero Squadron of the United States Army Air Service (USAAS). Mr. Peterson was the younger brother of Lafayette Escadrille pilot David McKelvy Peterson, the 36th of 38 Americans to fly with the Lafayette Escadrille. He reached the unit's aerodrome at Chaudun on 16 June 1917.

The fabric measures 81 threads to the inch. The "Indian Head" faces to the right, indicating that the piece was removed from the starboard side of the aircraft's fuselage.

The Lafayette Escadrille became the 103rd Aero Squadron of the United States Air Service on 18 February 1918 and Peterson transferred into it as a Captain. On 1 April he was transferred as a flight commander to the 94th Aero Squadron commanded by Raoul Lufbery. On 16 May he was transferred to the 95th Aero Squadron and became its commanding officer on 22 May. Peterson remained in the USAAS after the war but died at age 24 in a flying accident on 16 March 1919. He was buried in his hometown of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, where American Legion Post 254 is named after him.

The Journal des Marches et Opérations records Peterson flying five different Spad VII aircraft on 43 of the 92 days between 11 September and 11 December 1917. Of those five aircraft, he flew mostly in Spad VII S. 2110, with seven days in S. 1106, two days each in S. 1417 and S. 1621 and one day in S. 1859. Thus far a search of historical source material has not resulted in the identification of any photo of Spad VII S. 2110.