Most of the thousands of World War I photographs in the collections of the Air and Space Museum’s Archives Department are grimly utilitarian – aerial views of trenches, aircraft and details of their construction and the damage they sustained during dangerous missions. But the young pilots who flew those missions had a reputation for light-heartedness, and found their fun wherever and whenever they could. For April Fools’ Day, we’ve pulled a photo of pilots and observers of the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops Fliegerkompagnie 27 (FliK 27) posing between missions and making with the bunny ears. FliK 27 served on the Russian Front from June 1916 to December 1917, and on the Italian front from March to October of 1918.
And meanwhile, on the other side of No Man’s Land:
… A serious group of Imperial Russian Army Air Service cadets of the Gatchina Military Flying School shows only one set of bunny ears, no doubt reflecting wartime shortages…
Allan Janus is a museum specialist in the Archives Department of the National Air and Space Museum.