Lafayette Escadrille- The First American Fighter Squadron

Casemate is proud to release Steven A. Ruffin’s The Lafayette Escadrille: A Photo History of the First American Fighter Squadron.

Ruffin, whose previous works include Aviation’s Most Wanted (Potomac Books, 2005) and Flights of No Return (Zenith Books, 2015) timed this unique illustrated history to coincide with the centennial of the unit’s operational years, 1916-1918. Because of the extensive publicity this iconic unit received, as well as the many books about it that have appeared over the past century, it may well be the best-known fighter squadron ever to take to the skies. However, Ruffin’s book not only tells the story of this unit, it shows it. As he states in his preface, “if a photograph is worth a thousand words, this book of photographs is worth a million.”

To create this “scrapbook,” Ruffin spent an entire year searching through various university and museum archives in the United States and France for images and documents relating to the celebrated unit. The result is what he considers one of the best photographic collections of the men, machines, and mascots of the Lafayette Escadrille—in terms of both sheer number and quality—ever published.

Scattered through the pages are snapshots of existing markers, memorials, and museum relics relating to the squadron and its men. Ruffin then took this interesting concept of old vs. new a step further, by seeking out locations in France where the squadron operated and its pilots frequented. This allowed him to match present-day color photos with B&W contemporary images of the same scene, resulting in a fascinating “then vs. now” comparison. Rounding out this remarkable photographic display are beautiful, full-color artistic scenes and historically accurate aircraft profiles.

The resulting collection of images, supplemented by captions and factual narrative, provides what the author believes is the most complete visual history ever created of this historically significant Franco-American fighter squadron and an original pictorial exhibition that both aficionados and those with a more passing interest can appreciate.

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Today there stands a grand monument just outside Paris to honor the Lafayette Escadrille and Flying Corps. Last April 20th, it was rededicated to mark the original Escadrille’s centennial in a ceremony of great pageantry and solemnity. The ceremony was full of speeches and anthems, a 21-gun salute, and flyovers of American and French military jets.

Members of several Lafayette Escadrille families attended to pay their respects. Some were meeting for the first time.

Mémorial de l'Escadrille La Fayette; jour du souvenir americain 28 mai 2011
Mémorial de l’Escadrille La Fayette; jour du souvenir americain 28 mai 2011

Buy The Lafayette Escadrille: A Photo History of the First American Fighter Squadron by Steven A Ruffin and other great titles at Casemate Publishers, or anywhere fine books are sold.


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