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World War I

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Mon, February 13 2017

Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen

On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I, setting America on a course to become an important player on the world stage. It was a turning point in the nation’s history that still reverberates through world events a century later. One of the Museum’s most engaging programs in observance of the hundredth anniversary of the First World War is Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen, a year-long film series showing Hollywood’s finest feature films on World War I.

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Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen
Tue, November 29 2016

Operational Logs of the Lafayette Escadrille

The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the “Escadrille Américaine” or the Lafayette Escadrille. Created on December 6, 1916, the Escadrille (or “squadron”) holds a unique place both in the history of World War I (1914-1918) and in the history of aviation overall. Most notably, the Escadrille was composed of American volunteers who chose to fight for France a year before the United States’ official entry into the Great War in April 1917.

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Operational Logs of the Lafayette Escadrille
Thu, March 24 2016

A Message to You from Uncle Sam’s First Propaganda Balloon

Our Archives houses the Technical Reference Files, an important collection of aeronautical and astronautical topics comprised of 1,920 cubic feet of documents, photographs, and ephemera. This important resource is housed in vertical files and is an organic, growing collection to which material is added constantly. Recently, we came across a remarkable document in the Tech Files of the long fight against tuberculosis—shared with you today in recognition of World Tuberculosis Day.

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American Balloon Service Flyer
Wed, March 2 2016

Ruth Law’s World War I Liberty Bonds Leaflet

No one could say Ruth Law was a novice. She had been flying since 1912. She was the first woman to fly at night, in a biplane purchased from Orville Wright.

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Ruth Law in Military Uniform
Thu, January 14 2016

From the Archives: The Theodore E. Boyd WWI Collection

Theodore E. Boyd was a 24-year-old teacher from Tennessee when the United States entered World War I in 1917. Boyd initially volunteered for Reserve Officers Training School at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. He then accepted a commission to be a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery Section. In France, Boyd served with the 88th Aero Squadron (Attached), 7th Field Artillery, Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). In 2012, the National Air and Space Museum Archives received the Theodore E. Boyd World War I Collection (Acc. No. 2013-0016), and through the documents in the collection—correspondence, photographs, military orders, flight logs, and memoirs—we can reconstruct Boyd’s World War I experience.

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Military ID Card
Thu, October 29 2015

Halloween Horrors of the Air: 13 Terrifying Images of Aero Fashion

From witches to winged demons, humanity has long harbored a horror of airborne denizens. Even when we ventured forth into the heavens without supernatural support, we sometimes adopted some truly terrifying attire.

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Mannequin Models Early Flight Mask
Thu, October 22 2015

Fear and Concealment: Military Aircraft Disguises and Transformations

The Museum’s annual Air & Scare event is taking place this Saturday at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. In the spirit of disguises, costumes, and just plain scary stuff, I thought I would share some examples from the history of military aviation where things were not as they seemed.

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Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Shark Nose Art
Wed, September 23 2015

“Knight of Death” Airplane Insignia

You can’t read anything about French World War I pilot Charles Nungesser that doesn’t include descriptors such as flamboyant, audacious, undisciplined, rakish, and insubordinate.

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“Knight of Death” Insignia
Tue, May 19 2015

Three Pilots - One War: Commemorating World War I

Starting just 11 years after the invention of powered flight, the Great War was the first major conflict in which pilots and airplanes were involved, experiencing their baptism by fire. At the beginning of the war, military applications of the new technology were barely known. At the end of the war, there was a vast array of fighter planes, reconnaissance planes, and bombers. Dogfighting tactics and bombing strategies had been developed, with weapons and armaments now essential elements in military aircraft.

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Spad XIII "Smith IV"
Tue, February 17 2015

WWI U.S. Army Protective Helmet Used by American Rocket Society

What does a piece of World War I Army surplus have to do with early rocketry?

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American Rocket Society Helmet

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