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Originally formed as Nieuport-Duplex in 1902 for the manufacture of engine components the company was reformed in 1909 as the Société Générale d'Aéro-locomotion, and its products (including ignition components) were marketed to the aviation industry. During this time, their first aircraft were built, starting with a small single-seat monoplane, which was destroyed in a flood. A second design flew before the end of 1909 and had the essential form of the modern aircraft, including an enclosed fuselage with the pilot protected from the slipstream and a horizontal tail whose aerodynamic force acted downwards, balancing the weight of the engine ahead of the center of gravity, as opposed to upwards as on the Bleriot XIs.
Nieuport had trouble obtaining suitable engines for their early designs and resorted to making their own. In 1910 a twin-cylinder horizontally-opposed type producing 28 hp (21 kW) was fitted to the Nieuport II and proved successful.
In 1911, the company was reformed specifically to build aircraft (though it continued to build components including propellers) under the name Nieuport et Deplante. In 1911, Edouard Nieuport(1875–1911) (one of several brothers) died after being thrown from his aircraft, and the company was taken over by Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe, a famous supporter of aviation development. With his financing, the name was changed to Société Anonyme des Établissements Nieuport, and development of the existing designs was continued. Charles Nieuport, the second brother died in another accident in 1912 (he stalled and spun in), and the position of chief designer was taken over by the Swiss engineer Franz Schneider, more famous for his work for his next employer, L.V.G., and his long-running fight with Anthony Fokker over machine gun interrupter / synchronizer patents. Schneider left Nieuport in late 1913.
Gustave Delage and World War I
With Schneider's departure, Gustave Delage (no connection to the Delage automobile company) took over as chief designer in January 1914. He began work on a sesquiplane racer - a biplane whose lower wing was much narrower in chord than its top wing and relied on a single wing spar instead of the usual two. This aircraft was not ready to fly until after World War I had begun but, as the Nieuport 10, the type saw extensive service with the Royal Naval Air Service (R.N.A.S.) of the United Kingdom and with the French and Russian Flying Services. The performance of the Nieuport 10, and the more powerful Nieuport 12, which also served with the Royal Flying Corps (R.F.C.) was such that they were used as fighters. Nieuport developed an improved design specifically intended as a fighter - the Nieuport 11, which was regarded as the "baby" (bébé) of the 10, which it closely resembled, except in size.
Until the end of 1917, most of the company's output would consist of successive developments of this one design, with more powerful engines, modest increases in overall dimensions, and slightly more refined aerodynamics, until the line ended with the Nieuport 27. As horsepower increased, the "V-strut" Nieuports began to suffer from the limitations of the sesquiplane wing form, and required careful piloting to avoid the risk of wing failures. By March/April 1917 the design was technically outclassed by the newer twin-gun Albatros D.III, and although the process of replacement had already begun, Nieuport 27's would still be in front line service in the spring of 1918. Even while still in frontline service, Nieuports of all types were being used at French and American flight training facilities, with the bulk of production from 1917 onwards going to flying schools.
Some pilots, notably Albert Ball and Charles Nungesser preferred the Nieuport due to its sensitive controls and maneuverability. Pilots Eddie Rickenbacker and Billy Bishop flew Nieuport aircraft to some of their first victories, with Bishop achieving his when the Nieuport 23 he flew was already obsolescent.
The next design, the Nieuport 28 was the first Nieuport fighter with two spars to both upper and lower wings but by the time it was ready for service the French had already chosen the SPAD S.XIII as their primary fighter. Due to a shortage of SPAD S.XIIIs, the first fighter squadrons of the United States Army Air Service (USAAS), used the Nieuport 28 on operations. While only in operational service with the USAAS for a short time, the Nieuport 28 was the first fighter to be used on operations by a U.S. Squadron.
Nieuports were widely used by the Allied air arms, and various models were built under licence in Italy and Russia and the United Kingdom. In Italy, the modern firm of Aermacchi was originally formed as Nieuport-Macchi for the purpose of building various Nieuports under licence. They started with the Nieuport IV, but built the Nieuport 10, 11, 17 and finally the post-war NiD.29 under license. In Russia several companies, notably Dux, built Nieuports of several types including the IV, 10, 11, 16, 17, 21, 23 and 24bis. In Scotland, the William Beardmore and Company built the Nieuport 12 under licence, while gradually incorporating many of their own changes.
On the morning of Friday, 8 August 1919, three weeks after the Paris victory parade in 1919 marking the end of hostilities in World War I, Charles Godefroy flew a "v-strut" Nieuport fighter through the large arch of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The event was filmed.
Post-World War I
By the end of 1918, Nieuport had two new fighter types flying, the Nieuport 29 biplane and the Nieuport 31 monoplane both of which had evolved in parallel from the Nieuport 28. They differed from earlier Nieuports in having streamlined wooden monocoque fuselages, a 300 hp (220 kW) Hispano-Suiza engine, and dispensed with the vee-strut sesquiplane wing used previously. Specially modified Nieuport 29 and 31 aircraft set speed and height records, and the 31 was the first aircraft to exceed 200 mph (320 km/h) in level flight, in the hands of Joseph Sadi-Lecointe.
At this time, Nieuport became Nieuport-Astra, with the absorption of Société Astra, a company known for aerial balloons, though this name would not be used for long, before becoming Nieuport-Delage, in honour of the work of the chief designer, Gustave Delage, who had been running the company throughout the war years. Also at this time, Tellier (who built seaplanes) was also absorbed, and for a brief time the name Nieuport-Tellier was used.
Despite the many successes achieved with 29 and 31 in setting speed and altitude records, Delage quickly embarked on a new design (The Nieuport-Delage NiD.42) that was to provide the basis for a family of aircraft that would remain in service until the fall of France during World War II. This design first saw light as a shoulder wing racer (42S), then as single seat (42 C.1) and two seat fighters (42 C.2) for the French Air Force though none of these would see service. The Nieuport-Delage 52, a slightly improved NiD.42, entered service with Spain, and remained in service well into the Spanish Civil War, although by that time it was obsolete and was retired before the end of the conflict. The French bought large numbers of the 62 series (620, 621, 622, 629) which was also derived from the NiD.42 to equip the bulk of the French fighter units until replaced by newer designs in the late 30's. Despite being hopelessly obsolete, several French second-line escadrilles were still equipped with them during the invasion of France. The Nieuport-Delage NiD 38 and similar 39 were small airliners of which more than 37 were built. Other types were developed, the majority of which were one-offs or did not result in significant production.
The end of Nieuport
The final aircraft developed by Nieuport saw much of their development done by successor companies. In 1932, as a result of the amalgamations taking place in the French aviation industry, Delage retired and Nieuport-Delage was briefly renamed Nieuport again, before merging with Loire Aviation to form Loire-Nieuport, which was reformed as SNCAO during the mergers in the French aircraft industry. SNCAO would eventually be merged into the massive conglomerate known as Aérospatiale, however, the records were burnt to prevent their falling into German hands during World War II. This step didn't prevent the Germans from charging several employees with espionage, as the last operational aircraft to carry the Nieuport name, the Loire-Nieuport LN.401 was a single seat, single engine retractable gear monoplane dive bomber with an inverted gull wing and a vague similarity to the Junkers 87.
In later three digit designations (except NiD 120 and LN.160), the third numeral represents a sub-variant with a 0 representing a base variant so that a 640 and a 64 are the same.
- Nieuport I - retroactive designation for pod and boom tractor monoplane, flew once before being destroyed by a flood.
- Nieuport II - small single-seat sport/racing monoplane powered by a wide variety of engines.
- Nieuport III - two-seat sport/racing monoplane with Anzani engine.
- Nieuport IV - two-seat sport/racing monoplane with many detail and dimensional differences between examples.
- Nieuport VI - three-seat sport monoplane used by French Navy as an observation aircraft, and by the R.N.A.S. as a trainer.
- Nieuport VIII - two-seat sport monoplane, variant of VI for Turkey.
- Nieuport X - three-seat sport monoplane similar to VI but with constant chord wings and also used by the French Navy.
- Nieuport XI - small single seat sport monoplane similar to II but with constant chord wings - prototype only.
- Nieuport-Dunne - tailless biplane built under licence with many local modifications.
- Nieuport Carton-Pate - twin boom sesquiplane pusher floatplane for military.
- Nieuport 9 - Russian designation for locally built single seat version of Nieuport 10
- Nieuport 10 - sesquiplane used in wide variety of military roles including as a fighter, unrelated to monoplane Nieuport X
- Nieuport 11 - sesquiplane fighter - Nieuport's first purpose-built fighter, no relation to earlier monoplane Nieuport XI
- Nieuport 12 - two-seat artillery spotting sesquiplane developed from Nieuport 10
- Nieuport 12bis - two seat artillery spotting sesquiplane, extensively redesigned from Nieuport 12
- Nieuport 13 - two-seat artillery spotting sesquiplane developed from Nieuport 12 with slightly longer wings
- Nieuport 14 - two-seat reconnaissance sesquiplane
- Nieuport 82 - trainer version of Nieuport 14 with 80-hp engine
- Nieuport 15 - large sesquiplane bomber, further enlargement of 14
- Nieuport 16 - sesquiplane fighter - Nieuport 11 airframe strengthened and powered by the 110 hp Le Rhône 9J engine
- Nieuport 17 - sesquiplane fighter similar to the earlier Nieuport 11, but had the same engine as the 16, larger all around, and a more refined structure in general.
- Nieuport 17bis - sesquiplane fighter - cleaned-up version of Nieuport 17. Used in small numbers
- Nieuport 18 - twin engine sesquiplane bomber
- Nieuport 19 - same as Nieuport 18 but with different engines. Neither appear to have been built
- Nieuport 20 - two-seat artillery spotting sesquiplane aircraft developed from Nieuport 12
- Nieuport 21 - light weight sesquiplane fighter and advanced trainer version of Nieuport 17 with lower-powered engine
- Nieuport 23 - sesquiplane fighter, development of Nieuport 17 with Vickers machine gun offset (when installed)
- Nieuport 24 - sesquiplane fighter, a widely used cleaned-up version of Nieuport 17.
- Nieuport 24bis - sesquiplane fighter, like 24 but with Nieuport 17 rudder and horizontal tail
- Nieuport 25 - sesquiplane fighter - cleaned-up version of Nieuport 17 with much larger engine - prototypes only.
- Nieuport 27 - sesquiplane fighter - the definitive version of the Nieuport 24 and penultimate example of series.
- Nieuport 28 - biplane fighter of late First World War - first biplane Nieuport fighter with full size upper and lower wings.
- Nieuport Madon - monoplane fighter which led to development of 31 and sesquiplan monoplanes
- Nieuport 29/Nieuport-Delage NiD 29 - biplane fighter used by France, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Argentina, Italy, and others.
- Nieuport 30T/Nieuport-Delage NiD 30T - large single engine biplane bomber later redeveloped as transport (as the NiD 30T), several built.
- Nieuport 31/31Rh - 1919 Le Rhone engined monoplane/sesquiplane fighter prototype.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 32/32M/32Rh - rotary powered naval variant of Nieuport-Delage NiD 29.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 33 - 2 seat trainer with square section fuselage otherwise similar to NiD.29, some used by Japan.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 37 - fighter and later racing sesquiplane built for 1922 Coupe Deutsche with pilot sitting over engine.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 38 & NiD 39 - light single engine biplane cabin airliners produced with different engines
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 40 - high altitude variant of Nieuport-Delage 29
- Nieuport-Delage 41/Sesquiplan - 1920s monoplane racer derived from Nieuport 31 which set many speed records.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 42 - sesquiplane fighter, prototype for 52, 62, 72 and others, was originally a parasol monoplane
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 43 - floatplane fighter.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 44 - development of 42 with different engine.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 450 & 650 - monoplane racers for Schneider Trophy
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 46 - development of 42 with different engine.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 48 - sesquiplane fighter scaled down NiD 42 for Jockey light fighter program.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 50 - abandoned twin engine floatplane torpedo bomber.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 52 - sesquiplane fighter derived from NiD 42 used by Spain.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 54 - single engine high wing transport.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 580 - two seat reconnaissance parasol monoplane.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 62 - sesquiplane fighter used in large numbers by France.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 64, 640 & 641 - large single engine monoplane airliner with elliptical wing.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 72 - sesquiplane fighter all metal version of 62.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD 740 - trimotor long range mailplane prototype built to a government requirement.
- Nieuport-Delage NiD-120 - single seat parasol monoplane fighter used by Peru.
- Loire-Nieuport LN.10 - twin engine inverted gull monoplane patrol floatplane with engines over wing.
- Loire-Nieuport LN.30 - single engine pusher training flying boat.
- Loire-Nieuport LN.40 - Single engine, single seat dive bomber with inverted gull wing.
- Loire-Nieuport LN.160 - Single engine, single seat fighter, developed into SNCAO 200.
During World War I, Nieuport aircraft were sometimes referred to by their wing area (in square meters) rather than their official designations. The Nieuport 10 and 83 were 18-meter Nieuports The Nieuport 11 & 16 were 13-meter Nieuports The Nieuport 12, 12bis, 20, 80 and 81 were 23-meter Nieuports The Nieuport 17, 17bis, 21, 23, 24, 24bis, and 27 were 15-meter Nieuports
- Munson p.150
- Gray & Thetford P.169
- Munson P.152
- Cheesman p.90
- Cheesman p. 92
- Cheesman 1960
- Knight, Clayton (September 1957). "A Portfolio of Vintage Warbirds". TRUE Magazine.
- Treadwell P.74
- Apostolo p. 7
- Apostolo p. 41
- Durkota p.358
- * « Un aviateur passe en avion sous l'Arc de Triomphe », Le Matin from 1919/08/08, p.1, column 3 - 4.
- « Un avion passe sous l'Arc de Triomphe », L'Écho de Paris from 1919/08/08, p.1, column 3.
- « L'Acte insensé d'un aviateur », par Raoul Alexandre, L'Humanité from 1919/08/08, p.1, column 2.
- « Un avion, ce matin, est passé sous l'Arc de Triomphe », par Paul Cartoux, L'Intransigeant from 1919/08/08, p.1, column 6.
- « Aéronautique : l'inutile exploit du sergent Godefroy », Le Temps from 1919/08/09, morning edition, p.3, column 4 - 5.
- Exploits de l'Aviation - Charles Godefroy (contains footage of the flight)
- Hannan, Bill; Benichou, Michel (April 1983). "Nieuport Carton-Pate". La fanatique de l'aviation. le Hangar de l'inconnu (Unknown Hangar) (in French) (clichy Cedex: Lariviere) 161: 36–39.
- http://www.hydroretro.net/etudegh/les_avions_nieuport-delage.pdf pp.26 & 28
- http://www.hydroretro.net/etudegh/les_avions_nieuport-delage.pdf pp.15-16
- http://www.hydroretro.net/etudegh/les_avions_nieuport-delage.pdf p.27
- http://www.hydroretro.net/etudegh/les_avions_nieuport-delage.pdf pp.21-22
- http://www.hydroretro.net/etudegh/les_avions_nieuport-delage.pdf pp.29-30
- http://www.hydroretro.net/etudegh/les_avions_nieuport-delage.pdf pp.23-24
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- Bruce, J.M. Nieuport 17 (and its near relatives) - Windsock Datafile 20, Albratros Publications, Herts, 1990, ISBN 0-948414-24-3
- Bruce, J.M. Nieuport Aircraft of World War One - Vintage Warbirds No 10, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1988 ISBN 0-85368-934-2
- Bruce, J.M. Nieuport Fighters - A Windsock Datafile Special Volumes 1 & 2, Albratros Publications, Herts, 1994, ISBN 0-948414-54-5
- Čejka, Zdenek Československé Nieuporty (Czechoslovakian Nieuports), Historick Sesity, Prague, 1998
- Cheesman, E.F. (ed.) Fighter aircraft of the 1914-1918 War, Letchwordth, Harleyford 1960
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- Durkota, Alan. The Imperial Russian Air Service - Famous Pilots and Aircraft of World War I, Flying Machines Press, Mountain View California, 1995, ISBN 0-9637110-2-4
- Fletcher, Michael. Nieuport VIH, Random Thoughts (Journal of the International Plastic Modellers Society of Canada), Ottawa, Volume 24, Number 4, pp 80–82.
- Franks, Norman. Nieuport Aces of World War 1 - Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 33, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 2000, ISBN 1-85532-961-1
- Gray, Peter and Thetford, Owen. German Aircraft of the First World War, Putman, London, 1962
- Guttman, Jon. Nieuport 28 - Windsock Datafile 36, Albratros Publications, Herts, 1992, ISBN 0-948414-44-8
- Hartmann, Gérard. "Les Avions Nieuport-Delage". Retrieved 3 April 2013.
- Kowalski, Tomasz J. Nieuport 1-27, Kagero, Lublin, 2003, ISBN 83-89088-09-6
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- Longoni, Maurizio. Nieuport Macchi 11 & 17, Intergest, Milan, 1976
- Munson, Kenneth Pioneer Aircraft London, Blandford 1969
- Pommier, Gerard. Nieuport 1875-1911 - A biography of Edouard Nieuport, Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, PA, 2002 ISBN 0-7643-1624-9
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- Treadwell, Terry C. America's First Air War, Airlife, Shrewsbury, 2000
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