The Lafayette Escadrille was an all-volunteer squadron of Americans who flew for France during World War I.
Before the United States declared war in 1917, their exploits inspired over 200 volunteers who flew in other escadrilles and became known as the Lafayette Flying Corps.
Escadrille Americaine was commanded by a Frenchman, Captain Georges Thenault, initially with seven Americans assigned as pilots — Norman Prince, Victor Chapman, Kiffin Rockwell, James McConnell, William Thaw, Elliot Cowdin, and Bert Hall. During the succeeding 20 months at the Front, an additional 31 Americans signed on as pilots. It flew its first mission on May 13, 1916. Five days later Rockwell scored their initial victory by shooting down an LVG recon. On June 23, 1916, Chapman was shot down and became the first Escadrille Americaine pilot to die in aerial combat. When the unit's fame spread, the German government protested about the use of the "Americaine" in the title, since the US was still neutral at the time, and its name was changed to Escadrille Lafayette in December 1916. ⌚ @avi_8