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    Museum Audio Tour 03: Early Years Gallery: World War I

    Museum Audio Tour 03: Early Years Gallery: World War I

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    Audio by NMUSAF PA 

    National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

    As World War I began in 1914, the U.S. chose to remain neutral, but that didn’t stop a certain breed of daredevil aviator who desired nothing more than to participate in the conflict. A number of Americans traveled to France, where they joined in the fray as members of the French flying squadron, the Lafayette Escadrille. These brave “flyboys” saw the majority of their aerial combat from the cockpits of French-made Nieuport 17s and SPAD VIIs. Other Americans volunteered with the British Royal Flying Corps. One notable American pilot was Eugene Bullard, an African American who had gone to Europe before the war, seeking a better life. Bullard joined the French Army and after fighting in the trenches, was transferred to the French Air Force, where he became the world’s first black military aviator. When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, it was far behind the European countries in the strength and quality of its flying force. With only a handful of serviceable combat aircraft, American airmen had to fly British, French or Italian aircraft. Surrounding you are some examples of the aircraft that the fledgling Army Air Service flew during World War I. You’ll also see aircraft from the other side of the conflict. Diving to attack an Allied observation balloon is the Fokker Dr. I triplane. It gained fame as being one of the aircraft used by the German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen, the infamous “Red Baron.” Noted for its nimble flying qualities, the triplane created a sensation when it first appeared on the Front, but relatively few were built before they were replaced by faster fighters in 1918. America’s most famous fighter pilot of World War I was Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker. After serving as the personal driver for Gen. John Pershing, the American commanding general, Rickenbacker managed to wrangle his way into a flight school and soon, he was a flying in aerial combat in the skies over Europe. In a period of just four months, he managed to make 26 confirmed kills becoming America’s top ace of the war. His aircraft of choice was the SPAD XIII – the museum’s example is painted in his markings, sporting the famous “Hat in the Ring” of the 94th Aero Squadron. Even though American pilots sometimes had to contend with inferior equipment and their own lack of experience, they helped turn the tide against Germany and achieve victory for the Allies. Many of the lessons learned during 1918 would become important later during the Second World War. Although aviation was in its infancy during World War I, here’s a fact that will amaze you. More than 180,000 aircraft were built during the war – a truly astounding number even by today’s standards.



    Date Taken: 12.31.1969
    Date Posted: 09.02.2015 12:12
    Category: Newscasts
    Audio ID: 41879
    Filename: 1509/DOD_102704012.mp3
    Length: 00:03:03
    Album Museum Audio Tour
    Track # 03
    Location: DAYTON, OH, US 

    Web Views: 9
    Downloads: 1
    High-Res. Downloads: 1