US Army Air Service, WW I

In 1917, United States Army aviation was vested in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. It contained 55 aircraft and about 2,000 officers and men.  By the end of the war there were about 195,000 officers and men organized into 45 squadrons and 23 balloon companies in front line service.

The two most famous American aviators were Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker (28 victories) and 1st Lieut. Frank Luke (14 victories). Each was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Rickenbacker, Luke.

American aviators flew many types of Allied aicraft including Spads, Nieuports, Dorands and Sopwiths because the United States had no current military aircraft models.

Rickenbacker’s Spad, Luke’s Nieuport

Of course the pursuit units were most glamorous but the United States organized day and night bombardment squadrons, observation squadrons and balloon companies. 

Insignia: 91st Observation Squadron, 11th Day Bombardment Squadron

Major James B. Ronan II is a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians http://www.military-historians.org/

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