Thursday, October 27, 2011

United States - 1918 SPAD X.III 93rd Aero Squadron

Digging for Some Understanding

Researching history is a puzzle at times. You dig through articles, pour over photos and in the end you still have deep questions which make you wonder if you will ever have all the pieces to see a clear view of your subject. This has been the case with attempting to find enough information to bring to life an aircraft I have only seen in two pictures. When I was working on fantasy and science fiction subjects I was free to improvise to a certain amount. I was helping define what someone would see in their mind's eye. History is a harsher mistress. There is a certain amount of conjecture, however it has to be grounded in research of facts about your subject.

I want to take a moment to thank Gene Beals for his hard work building great site on the 93rd Aero Squadron It is well worth a visit.

My current cause of befuddlement started when I began research for information on the Pursuit Groups serving in the American Expeditionary Force in France. Many times I feel like it is the first day in school and I forgot my books. Slowly you pick through sources looking for elusive pieces to the puzzle. On a good day you have enough information to at least begin laying out the outline. For every hour of drawing time there is at least two hours of research. People tell me doing profiles if difficult. For me it is a relief from all the hours of studying records.

Today's puzzle began with making the initial drawing of a unit insignia to add to my "Decal" archive. I worked up two versions until I liked the results. The only problem was I did not have a source to show me any of the aircraft that carried the insignia. It was time to get my data shovel and dig around some more.

Sometimes You Have to Just Make a Best Guess

Drawing of 93rd Aero Squadron Insignia.
Conceptual Drawing for the 93rd Aero Squadron's Insignia

This is the second version of the initial drawings I made for my insignia archives. I am a firm believer in working it to completion and saving it in a form where I can copy and paste it into other profiles. I see no sense in reinventing the wheel. For me the final process of making profiles is more akin to building a model kit than drawing.

The profiles are highly conjectural. The photos I have seen do not show all the details and the colors are best guess based on standard practices and comparing gray tones with known colored areas. The insignia on some examples may be a little too ornate, but I can correct that in later versions. For now I am just happy to make a first attempt at a subject I have not seen many color profiles for this squadron. If anyone has information to make it more accurate please contact me. I have the names and serial numbers for all three flight for the squadron. My main problem is I am lacking details to fill the ranks with profiles for this squadron.


  1. 93rd Aero Squadron - World War I Retrieved Oct 24, 2011 01:25 from


KPW said...

I have a photo in my grandfather's scrapbooks of a Native American screaming, similar to this. I believe it's on a Neiuport 28, but I could be mistaken. I'll see what I can find.

Unknown said...

That is exciting news Kurt. It might even be one of the Nieuport 28s flown by the 213th squadron. They operated unarmed 28s and their Indian head insignia is similar to the one used by the 93rd Squadron.

Jon Yuengling said...

Why were the Nieuports unarmed?

Unknown said...


When The U.S entered the war the early squadrons which would become the 1st Pursuit Group were outfitted with French made Nieuport 28's. The manufacturer provided unarmed airframes. The machine guns were issued through military procurement channels and were added in the field. The 94th Aero Squadron flew their first sortie without any weapons.

The training aircraft used by the 213rd Squadron in France were routinely unarmed. The reasons were: untrained pilots were still learning to fly and having guns on-board could have been a safety issue, accidental discharge could mean casualties by friendly fire. A sanguine reason might be since inexperienced pilots crash more often than their experienced counterparts, why take chances losing weapons which were in short supply. The next reason was the guns and munitions were needed for aircraft committed to active service in combat. Anther reason could be that an armed aircraft consumes more fuel than a lighter weight unarmed plane.

I hope that clears things up.