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Mrs. Gladys Maud Cockburn-Lange and her faked First World War dogfight photographs
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First World War (1914-1918)
Fakes, forgeries, tricks and deceptions
The mysterious case of Mrs. Gladys Maud Cockburn-Lange and her aerial photographs of aerial dogfights taken during the First World War are relatively well known to photo-historians. In the early 1930s she supplied a number of photographs that, if authentic, would have been extraordinary - at the time they were accepted as genuine but the person who supplied them could never be contacted directly and eventually vanished from all contact. The collection was sold to the publisher Heinemann for $20,000 who published the book Death in the Air: The War Diary and Photographs of a Flying Corps Pilot.
The photographs were reproduced in books and used in exhibitions until 1984 when there was a donation to the Smithsonian Air Museum that included personal items along with the originals of the photographs sold by Mrs. Gladys Maud Cockburn-Lange. The donation was traced to Wesley David Archer who had been a Royal Flying Corps pilot and went on to become a maker of model aeroplanes. The pieces were now coming together and within the donation there were the original photographs where the wires supporting the models still shown. Further research revealed that Mrs. Gladys Maud Cockburn-Lange was infact Mrs. Gladys Maud "Betty" Archer the wife of the person who had made the donation.
- Λ Joe Nickell, 2010, Camera Clues: A Handbook for Photographic Investigation , (University Press of Kentucky), p. 63
- Λ Flying Corp Pilot, 1933, Death in the Air: The War Diary and Photographs of a Flying Corps Pilot, (W. Heinemann Limited); Reprinted - Wesley D. Archer, 1985, Death in the Air: The War Diary and Photographs of a Flying Corps Pilot, (Greenhill Press)
- Λ Edwards Park, January 1985, “The Greatest Aerial Warfare Photos Go Down in Flames,” Smithsonian, pp. 102-113
For the source materials - Wesley Archer (Cockburn-Lange Hoax) Collection, 1916-1960