Nieuport 23

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Nieuport 23
RMM Brussel Nieuport 23.JPG
A Nieuport 23 at the Royal Military Museum in Brussels
Role Fighter
National origin France
Manufacturer Nieuport
First flight 1917
Primary user Aéronautique Militaire
Developed from Nieuport 17

The Nieuport 23 was a fighter aircraft produced in France during the First World War.[1][2] It was a development of the Nieuport 17 intended to address structural weakness of the earlier type, and most were produced with a lighter version of the Le Rhône 9J engine that powered the Nieuport 17,[3] offering a better power-to-weight ratio. Internally, the main difference between the Types 17 and 23 was a redesigned wing spar in the upper wing.[3] This, however, did not prove satisfactory, and when the fighter displayed an unacceptably high accident rate due to shedding its wings in flight,[4] the Général chef du service aéronautique ordered that either additional reinforcement be added to the wings or that the type be withdrawn from service.[3] One hundred and fifty new sets of wings were ordered to keep the type flying.[3] External differences included better streamlining of the forward fuselage[5] and a synchronised machine gun mounted on the upper fuselage and firing through the propeller disc.[1][3] Nieuport 23s ordered for Britain's Royal Flying Corps nevertheless were fitted with machine guns that fired over the top of the upper wing, in the way that the Nieuport 17 had been armed.[3]

A photograph published in the Osprey book about German squadron Jasta 18 shows a crashed Nieuport 23 (No A6678) which had been piloted by Lt J R Anthony of Royal Flying Corps (RFC) No 1 Squadron over the Western Front. This machine was shot down from an altitude of 5,200 metres on May 25, 1917, but managed to force land beside a German flak battery. Anthony was fatally wounded while his machine was captured, minus its rudder, which was taken by the victorious German pilot. This individual RFC Nieuport 23 shows a top-wing Lewis gun had been fitted but it is unclear if the Vickers gun on the cowling had been retained. This Lewis is on a fixed top-wing mount and not the sliding Foster mount popularised on the later SE5. Historians have found it difficult to identify how many of each Nieuport type were operated by the RFC as its surviving records tended to only specify 'Nieuport scout'. Thus an unknown proportion of various Nieuport models including the Nieu 11, 17 and 23 were issued to squadrons. Individual Nieuport types are best identified from surviving photos rather than archives. Some Nieuports were retained by later RFC squadrons as personal aircraft. Such pilots included Billy Bishop VC and Albert Ball VC.

The Nieuport 17bis flown by French ace Charles Nungesser was later converted to a Nieuport 23 standard. Some 49 Nieuport 23s were purchased by the USA in April 1918, probably for use as advanced trainers for pilots due to fly the later Nieuport 28.

A trainer version was produced as the Nieuport 23 École (or Nieuport 21/23) with an 80 hp Le Rhône engine.[3]

A Nieuport 23 is preserved at the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History in Brussels.[6]


Nieuport 23 at the Air Service, United States Army Air Service Production Center No. 2, Romorantin Aerodrome, France, 1918
 Kingdom of Italy
 Soviet Union
 United Kingdom
 United States


Data from Kowalski 2003, 46

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1, pilot
  • Length: 6.40 m (21 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 8.20 m (26 ft 11 in)
  • Height: 2.40 m (7 ft 11 in)
  • Wing area: 14.8 m2 ( ft2)
  • Empty weight: 355 kg (781 lb)
  • Gross weight: 574 kg (1,263 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Le Rhône 9Jb, 90 kW (120 hp)


  • Maximum speed: 168 km/h (105 mph)
  • Range: 241.4 km (150 miles)
  • Endurance: 1 hours  7 min
  • Service ceiling: 6,500 m (21,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 5.8 m/s (1,100 ft/min)



  1. ^ a b Taylor 1989, 697
  2. ^ The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft, 2598
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Sanger 2002, 49
  4. ^ Bruce 1990, 22
  5. ^ Kowalski 2003, 18
  6. ^ Musée Royal de l'Armée et d'Histoire Militaire website


  • Taylor, John W. R., and Jean Alexander. "Combat Aircraft of the World" New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969 Pg.114-115 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 68-25459
  • Bruce, J.M. (1990). Nieuport 17. Berkhamsted: Albatros Publications. 
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. London: Aerospace Publishing. 
  • Kowalski, Tomasz J. (2003). Nieuport 1–27. Lublin: Kagero. 
  • Sanger, Ray (2002). Nieuport Aircraft of World War One. Ramsbury: Crowood. 
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. 
  • "Avion Nieuport 23C.1 (France, 1915) (N-5024)". Musée Royal de l'Armée et d'Histoire Militaire website. Retrieved 2008-12-11.