The Great European War. Air Combat. A Heroic Feat of French Pilot Garros


This print showing the collision of a French airplane and a German airship is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “War creates heroes. A German Dreadnought-Zeppelin airship floated over a French fortress. The predatory enemy was carefully looking for the secret of its defenses. A small airplane took off and quickly surged into the air, controlled by the firm hand of French pilot Garros. Soon the famous pilot soared over the enormous airship. Garros dropped a bomb, but missed the target. Slowly, the German ship began turning to fly away with the information for its army. Then Garros, inspired like a true hero, directed his airplane at the German giant and burst into it. A terrible explosion followed, and the flaming airship, the wreckage of the airplane, and the mutilated bodies of dead people fell down upon the ground. Eternal glory to the glorious son of the great France.” The story is in fact a fiction. Roland Garros was captured by the Germans in April 1915 and spent nearly three years in a prisoner of war camp before escaping and rejoining the French air force. He was shot down and killed on October 5, 1918. This picture, like many others in the collection, was printed in the Moscow printing house of Ivan Sytin (1851–1934). By the 1880s, Sytin was the most popular and successful publisher of lubok pictures in Russia. He also published cheap popular books for workers and peasants, textbooks, and literature for children. The quality of this print is much better than many images from other printing houses—more colors and shades are neatly matched and more small details are available for the viewer. Lubok is a Russian word for popular prints created from woodcuts, engravings, etchings, or later, by using lithography. The prints were often characterized by simple, colorful graphics depicting a narrative, and could also include text. During World War I, lubok informed Russians about events on the frontlines, bolstered morale, and served as propaganda against enemy combatants.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

A .P. Korkin & A. V. Beideman & Company Printing and Lithographic Firm, Moscow


Title in Original Language

Великая европейская война. Воздушный бой. Геройский подвиг французского летчика Гарроса

Type of Item

Last updated: July 23, 2015