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  Aircraft History, Specification and Information
Nieuport 11
 
2002 Nieuport 11 (Replica) - N110DK (sn 006)
Photo taken Sep. 11, 2015
Victoria Intl., BC - Canada (YYJ / CYYJ)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler

The Nieuport 11, nicknamed the Bébé, was a French World War I single seat fighter aircraft, designed by Gustave Delage. It was the primary aircraft that ended the 'Fokker Scourge' in 1916.

The type saw service with several of France's allies, and gave rise to the series of "vee-strut" Nieuport fighters that remained in service (latterly as trainers) into the 1920s.

Design and development

N110DK Cockpit
Cockpit of N110DK
Photo taken Jul. 13, 2013
Arlington Municipal Airport, WA - USA (AWO / KAWO)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
N917AB
2002 Nieuport 11 (Replica) - N917AB (sn 010)
Photo taken Jul. 13, 2013
Arlington Municipal Airport, WA - USA (AWO / KAWO)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
N118PS
2003 Nieuport 11 (7/8 scaled replica) - N118PS (sn 009)
Photo taken Jul. 13, 2013
Arlington Municipal Airport, WA - USA (AWO / KAWO
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler

The Nieuport 11 was a smaller, simplified version of the Nieuport 10, designed specifically as a single-seat fighter. Like the "10" the "11" was a sesquiplane, a biplane with a full-sized top wing with two spars, and a lower wing of much narrower chord and a single spar. Interplane struts in the form of a "Vee" joined the wings together. The sesquiplane layout reduces drag and improves the rate of climb, as well as offering a better view from the cockpit than either biplane or monoplane, while being substantially stronger than contemporary monoplanes. The narrow lower wing may be subject to aeroelastic flutter at high air speeds, a problem that manifested itself on the much faster German Albatros D.III and the later "vee-strut" Nieuport fighters however no known failures can be connected to the Nieuport 11 or 16. A single example of the Nieuport 11 was modified with a smaller lower wing and canted interplance struts but no further development ensued.

Nieuport 11s were supplied to the French Aéronautique Militaire, the British Royal Naval Air Service, the Imperial Russian Air Service, Belgium, and Italy. 646 Nieuport 11s were produced by the Italian Macchi company under licence, and additional Nieuport 16s were built under licence in Russia by Dux. When Romania suffered military setbacks and needed aircraft, several RNAS Nieuport 11s, along with Nieuport 12s were provided.

Nieuport 16

In 1916 an improved version appeared as the Nieuport 16 which was a strengthened Nieuport 11 airframe powered by a 110 hp (92 kW) Le Rhône 9J rotary engine. Visible differences included a larger aperture in front of the "horse shoe" cowling and a headrest for the pilot. Later versions had a fuselage-mounted synchronized Vickers gun, but in this configuration the combined effect of the heavier 9J engine and the Vickers gun compromised maneuverability and made the craft nose-heavy. The Nieuport 16 was an interim type pending the delivery of the slightly larger Nieuport 17 C.1 which was designed for the heavier engine and machine gun with a new, full-perimeter ring cowl, and remedied the 16's balance problems, as well as improving performance.

Operational history

The Nieuport 11 reached the French front in January 1916, and 90 were in service within the month.

This small, sesquiplane outclassed the Fokker Eindecker in every respect, including speed, climb rate and maneuverability. It featured ailerons for lateral control rather than the Fokker's wing warping, giving lighter, quicker roll response, and its elevator was attached to a conventional tail plane as opposed to the all-moving, balanced "Morane type" stabilators of the Fokker which provided better pitch control. The Fokker's success was solely due to its synchronized machine gun which fired forward through the arc of its propeller. At the time, the Allies lacked a similar system, and the Nieuport 11's Lewis machine gun was mounted to fire over the propeller, achieving similar results. The Lewis was not synchronizable, due to its open bolt firing cycle design which resulted in an uneven firing rate, which couldn't then be synchronized to miss the rotating propeller blades. Clearing gun jams and replacing ammunition drums in flight were challenging though, and the drums limited ammunition supply. This was eventually resolved in French service by the application of the Alkan synchronization gear with a Vickers machine gun to Nieuport fighters starting with some later examples of the Nieuport 16. The British, in the absence of their own satisfactory synchronizer, continued with the overwing Lewis but employed a new "double" Lewis drum with a capacity of 98 rounds.

During the course of the Battle of Verdun in February 1916, the combination of the Nieuport 11s technical advantages which were largely shared with the earlier Nieuport 10 single seat fighters, and the concentration of the fighters within the first dedicated fighter units allowed the French to establish air superiority, forcing radical changes in German tactics.

Some Nieuport 11s and 16s were fitted to fire Le Prieur rockets from the struts for attacks on observation balloons and airships.

By March 1916 the Bébé was being replaced by the improved Nieuport 17, although Italian-built examples remained in first line service longer, as did Russian examples. Thereafter the Nieuport 11s and 16 continued to be widely used as trainers.

Variants

  • Nieuport 11
    Single-seat fighter/scout biplane. Also known as the Nieuport Bebe or Nieuport Scout although these were used for any Nieuport fighter.
  • Nieuport-Macchi 11000 or 11.000
    Variant built under licence in Italy with some detail modifications.
  • Nieuport 16
    Improved version powered by a 110 hp (92 kW) Le Rhone 9J rotary piston engine.

Operators

  • Belgium
    Belgian Air Force
    1ère Escadrille de Chasse
    5me Escadrille de Chasse
  • France
    Aéronautique Militaire
  • Kingdom of Italy
    Corpo Aeronautico Militare (built under licence by Macchi)
  • Netherlands
    Luchtvaartafdeling (1 example impressed)
  • Romania
    Corpul Aerian Român
  • Russian Empire
    Imperial Russian Air Force (some built under licence by Dux)
  • United Kingdom
    Royal Flying Corps - Nieuport 16 only
    Royal Naval Air Service

Survivors and reproductions

  • The Musée de l'Air at le Bourget in Paris has the sole original surviving Nieuport 11, currently marked as N556 with the personal markings of Commandant Charles Tricornot de Rose, holder of the first military pilot licence. It had previously been marked as N976.
  • Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome has had a reproduction Bébé flying in many of their airshows in past years, finished in Victor Chapman's colors, and powered with an original 80 hp Le Rhône 9C rotary engine.

Specifications (Nieuport 11 C.1)

General characteristics

Crew: one, pilot
Length: 5.8 m (19 ft 0 in)
Wingspan: 7.55 m (24 ft 9 in)
Height: 2.4 m (7 ft 10.5 in)
Wing area: 13 m² (140 ft²)
Empty weight: 344 kg (759 lb)
Loaded weight: 480 kg (1,058 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 550 kg (1,213 lb)
Powerplant: 1 × Le Rhone 9C nine-cylinder air-cooled rotary engine, 59.6 kW (80 hp)

Performance

Maximum speed: 156 km/h (97 mph)
Range: 330 km (205 miles)
Service ceiling: 4,600 m (15,090 ft)
Rate of climb: 15 mins to 3,000 m (9,840 ft)
Power/mass: 1.49 kW/kg (0.09 hp/lb)

Armament

1 × Lewis or Hotchkiss machine gun

Last updated March 2, 2016  
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nieuport 11".
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