Lafayette Escadrille

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LAFAYETTE ESCADRILLE, a squadron of volunteer American aviators who fought for France before the United States entered World War I. Formed on 17 April 1916, it changed its name, originally Escadrille Américaine, after German protest to Washington. A total of 267 men enlisted, of whom 224 qualified and 180 saw combat. Since only 12 to 15 pilots formed each squadron, many flew with French units. They wore French uniforms and most had noncommissioned officer rank. On 18 February 1918 the squadron was incorporated into the U.S. Air Service as the 103d Pursuit Squadron. The volunteers—credited with downing 199 German planes—suffered 19 wounded, 15 captured, 11 dead of illness or accident, and 51 killed in action.


Whitehouse, Arthur George Joseph (Arch). Legion of the Lafayette. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1962.

Charles B.MacDonald/c. w.

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Lafayette Escadrille (lä´fēĕt´, lăf´ēĕt´ ĕskədrĬl´), small group of American volunteer aviators in World War I, created (Apr., 1916) as Escadrille Américaine in the French air service. It was renamed the Lafayette Escadrille in December of the same year in honor of the French hero's service in the American Revolution, and the outfit saw much frontline action and suffered heavy casualties. In Jan., 1918, the Lafayette Escadrille was reorganized in the U.S. army as the 103d Pursuit Squadron.

See E. C. Parson's The Great Adventure (1937, repr. 1972 under the title I Flew with the Lafayette Escadrille); study by H. M. Mason (1964).

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Lafayette Escadrille ★★½ Hell Bent for Glory 1958

Action and romance in WWI via the famed flying unit manned by American volunteers. Hunter is banal in the lead role as is his romance with a reformed prostitute (Choreau). Director Wellman actually was a member of the squadron and his son plays him in the film but the director regarded the film as a failure because of studio interference. 92m/B VHS . Tab Hunter, Etchika Choureau, William Wellman Jr., Joel McCrea, Dennis Devine, Marcel Dalio, David Janssen, Paul Fix, Will Hutchins, Clint-Eastwood, Tom Watson; D: William A. Wellman; W: A.S. Fleischman; C: William Clothier; M: Leonard Rosenman.