NOT real WW1 dogfight photos

These pictures have been shared online and even published in books, newspaper, documentaries, etc. as being real First World War photos of aerial combat.

They’re not.

These photos were made in the 1930s by American model-maker and former RAF pilot Wesley David Archer in a plot together with his wife Betty to make a lot of money.
They made the photos with the use of models, wire, combining photographs and editing them.
Then the photos were published in a book that made the claim they were made by a pilot during the war.

The book ‘Death in the Air; The war diary and photographs of a flying corps pilot’ was published in 1933.
It became a bestseller.
The diary was as fake as the photos.

A few people were already sceptical at the time, the photos were just too good and there were too many of them.
But the pilot had died and his widow didn’t want any publicity… of course neither of these people ever existed.

Nobody might have ever known about the fraud till 1984 when the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space museum received several items that had belonged to the Archers long after he had died.
Among these items they found images that showed that the pictures had been faked with models and superimposing pictures onto real aerial photos, and documents that showed that the mysterious widow of the airman who had supposedly taken the pictures was actually Mrs. Archer.

Although there was speculation regarding the authenticity of the photos, the archers got away with it.
They made a fortune, moved to Cuba and died in the 1950s.
Why is this story not a movie?

To this day people think the pictures are real, which says something about the talent of the fakers.
Bravo Mr. & Mrs. Archer.

More information here.

Picture(s) found online, used for (re-)educational purposes only.
I do not own the copyrights to this picture, I only share it here for educational purposes to try and make sure the real story behind it becomes known and people will stop spreading false information.

If the copyright owner objects to the sharing here, kindly contact me and I shall alter the article.


One thought on “NOT real WW1 dogfight photos

  1. You might want to look into a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story, The Horror of the Heights. An interpid aeronaut, 1917 vintage, encounters alien monsters in the clouds. He falls to his death leaving only his diary behind, which falls into a hedgerow. The story is available online. It may have inspired the Archers.

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