After WWI, the U.S. Marine Corps collected artwork including works by participants in the war, artist-correspondents, illustrators working in support of the war effort, and commissioned artists.
First Marine Aviation Force Insignia (1918) by QmSgt John J. Engelhardt, USMCRNational Museum of the Marine Corps
First Marine Aviation Force by QmSgt John Engelhardt, USMCR
Shortly after the 1st Marine Aviation Force arrived in France, commanding officer Maj Alfred Cunningham requested a unique emblem design for the unit. QmSgt John Engelhardt and Sgt James Nicholson created the winning design which featured the red, white, and blue roundel.
Engelhardt and Nicholson’s emblem, which was used only on the aircraft flown by the four squadrons of the 1st Marine Aviation Force during World War I, was the earliest known officially approved unit insignia in U.S. naval aviation.
Marine DH-9A (1918) by LtCol John J. Capolino, USMCRNational Museum of the Marine Corps
DH-9A by LtCol John J. Capolino, USMCR
In the late 1920s, the Marine Corps tasked Capolino with creating a series of paintings to illustrate Marine Corps aviation.
Here, a Marine DH-9A light bomber is locked in a swirling dog fight with a German fighter over a coastline, likely near German submarine bases in Belgium.
When the 1st Marine Aviation Force arrived in France, they did not have aircraft of their own, so they traded American-built Liberty aircraft engines for English-built DH-9A airframes. By the end of WWI, the Marines flew a mixture of 20 English DH-9As & 16 American-built DH-4s.
Over the Target (1918) by LtCol John J. Capolino, USMCRNational Museum of the Marine Corps
Over the Target by LtCol John J. Capolino, USMCR
On 1 October 1918, Marine pilot Capt Robert S. Lytle and his observer/gunner Sgt Amil Wiman struck a railyard in the German held Lichtervelde, Belgium. They flew Aircraft No. D-1, the first American-built DH-4 light bomber received by the 1st Marine Aviation Force.
This pastel drawing is part of Capolino’s series on World War I Marine Corps aviation. He illustrates the damage to the train station and surrounding railyard with ominous black smoke clouds.
The 1st Marine Aviation Force insignia—the first official emblem of U.S. Marine Corps aviation—is included on the title scroll.
Captain Mulcahy’s Mission (1918) by LtCol John J. Capolino, USMCRNational Museum of the Marine Corps
Captain Mulcahy’s Mission by LtCol John J. Capolino, USMC
On 2 October 1918, during the Ypres-Lys offensive, French forces were cut off from supplies. Capt Francis F. Mulcahy, USMC, and his observer, Sgt Thomas L. McCullough, flew four successful missions to drop food for the French while coming under intense enemy ground fire.
Sgt McCullough is seen leaning over the side of the aircraft, sighting his drop. For his action, Capt Mulcahy received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal; Sgt McCullough received the Navy Cross.
Downed German Aviator, World War I (1918) by Col John W. Thomason, Jr., USMCNational Museum of the Marine Corps
Downed German Aviator, World War I, Col John W. Thomason, Jr
Air power became an effective tool during World War I. Both sides employed aircraft for reconnaissance, to attack front line positions, and to strike communication
Here, Thomason depicts a German aviator shot down near Thiaucourt, France, in 1918. With a pensive expression on his face, the enemy flyer is escorted by Marines to be interrogated before transfer to a prisoner of war camp.