Double Escape

Double Escape

Usage conditions apply
Oil painting on canvas shows an American balloon flying over a small village. Two airplanes, one American and one German, are engaged in combat around the balloon. The American plane has red, blue, and white roundels on its wings. The German plane, with German insignia on the wings, has been shot and is plummeting to the ground. The plane is in pieces and smoke and flames rise into the air.
The slow-moving observation balloons were easy prey for enemy fighter planes and had to be protected by allied planes. If a balloon was hit in battle, the gas in the balloon would catch fire and the balloon pilot would be forced to jump out of the balloon with his parachute. The descending pilot would then have to avoid two dangers: being hit by the burning balloon as it fell to the ground, or being hit by enemy fire from the enemy airplane. Thus, by shooting down the German plane before it could hit the balloon, the American plane gave the balloon pilot a "double escape."
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
associated date
1917 - 1918
associated person
War Department
Townsend, Harry
Townsend, Harry
place made
Physical Description
oil (overall production method/technique)
oil paint (overall material)
overall: 31 1/2 in x 26 in; 80.01 cm x 66.04 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
World War I
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Military
Official Art from the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object