Original U.S. WWI US Army Air Service “Serve in France” Recruitment Poster in Frame - 34" x 46 ¼”

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. In France, the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force, a separate entity under commanding General John J. Pershing that conducted the combat operations of U.S. military aviation, began field service in the spring of 1918. By the end of the war, the Air Service used 45 squadrons to cover 137 kilometers (85 miles) of front from Pont-à-Mousson to Sedan. 71 pursuit pilots were credited with shooting down five or more German aircraft while in American service. Overall the Air Service destroyed 756 enemy aircraft and 76 balloons in combat. 17 balloon companies also operated at the front, making 1,642 combat ascensions. 289 airplanes and 48 balloons were lost in battle.

The “Join the Air Service and serve in France – Do it now” poster was used during World War 1 to recruit servicemen for the United States Air Service. The poster mentions France as a place where soldiers can serve. At the time, Europe, and particularly France was an exotic location where many U.S. citizens dreamed of traveling to. This poster entices recruitment by offering soldiers the opportunity to travel overseas. The poster was designed by Paul J. Verrees who was of Belgian origin but lived in the United States. He designed a number of recruitment posters during World War 1. The artwork depicts two soldiers, one using binoculars, and in the foreground, an American biplane flying.

The poster is in incredible condition without any damage that we can find. It has been professionally framed and to prevent the risk of damaging the poster, we have not taken it out. The frame measures 34” x 46 1/4” and adds to the beauty of the poster.

Comes more than ready for display!

Background of the wartime Air Service
Although war in Europe prompted Congress to vastly increase the appropriations for the Aviation Section in 1916, it nevertheless tabled a bill proposing an aviation department incorporating all aspects of military aviation. The declaration of war against Germany on April 6, 1917, putting the United States in World War I, came too quickly (less than eight months after its use in Mexico chasing Pancho Villa) to solve emerging engineering and production problems. The reorganization of the Aviation Section had been inadequate in resolving problems in training, leaving the United States totally unprepared to fight an air war in Europe. The Aviation Section consisted of 131 officers, 1087 enlisted men, and approximately 280 airplanes.

The administration of President Woodrow Wilson created an advisory Aircraft Production Board in May 1917, consisting of members of the Army, Navy and industry, to study the Europeans' experience in aircraft production and the standardization of aircraft parts. The Board dispatched Major Raynal C. Bolling, a lawyer and military aviation pioneer, together with a commission of over 100 members, to Europe in the summer of 1917 to determine American aircraft needs, recommend priorities for acquisition and production, and negotiate prices and royalties. Congress passed a series of legislation in the next three months that appropriated huge sums for development of military aviation, including the largest single appropriation for a single purpose to that time, $640 million in the Aviation Act (40 Stat. 243), passed July 24, 1917. By the time the bill passed, the term Air Service was in widespread use to collectively describe all aspects of Army aviation.

Although it considered creation of a separate aviation department to act as the centralized authority for decision-making, both the War and the Navy Departments opposed it, and on October 1, 1917, Congress instead legalized the existence of the APB and changed its name to the "Aircraft Board", transferring its functions from the Council of National Defense to the secretaries of War and the Navy. Even so, the Aircraft Board in practice had little control over procurement contracts and functioned mostly as an information provider between industrial, governmental, and military entities. Nor did the "Equipment Division" of the Signal Corps exercise such control. Established by the Office of the Chief Signal Officer (OCSO) as one of the operating components of the Aviation Section, its task was to unify and coordinate the various agencies involved but its head was a commissioned former member of the APB who did nothing to create any effective coordination. Moreover, the largely wood and fabric airframe designs of World War I did not lend themselves to being made with the mass production methods of the automotive industry, which used considerable amounts of metallic materials instead, and the priority of mass-producing spare parts was neglected. Though individual areas within the aviation industry responded well, the industry as a whole failed. Efforts to mass-produce European aircraft under license largely failed because the aircraft, made by hand, were not amenable to the more precise American manufacturing methods. At the same time the Aeronautical Division of the OCSO was renamed the Air Division with continued responsibility for training and operations but with no influence on acquisition or doctrine. In the end the decision-making process in aircraft procurement was badly fragmented and production on a large scale proved impossible.

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