Design and development
Like its predecessors, the Nieuport VI was a wire-braced, mid-wing monoplane of conventional design, powered by a single engine in the nose driving a tractor propeller. It differed, however, in being a three-seater rather than a single seater (a bench for two passengers fitted in tandem with the pilot's seat) and in using steel for part of its internal structure where earlier designs had used wood only. Produced initially as a seaplane and designated VI-G, it had twin pontoons as undercarriage, with a teardrop-shaped auxiliary float under the tail. The pontoons were fitted with small planes at either side of their nose ends to protect the propeller and to reduce the tendency for the nose ends of the floats to submerge while taxiing, and "stepped" keels. Since being a seaplane precluded the possibility of the pilot swinging the propeller by hand in order to start the engine, a crank was provided inside the cockpit that wound a spring that could be used to turn the engine over. The Type VI also featured a joystick for lateral control in place of the Blériot-style "cloche" controls used on earlier Nieuport designs.
A refined version was produced as the Nieuport VI-H with a revised empennage and other changes. This was operated by the French and British navies. A landplane version for military use was designated the Nieuport VI-M. Military Type VIs were built under licence in Italy by Macchi and in Russia.
First flown in April 1912, the type was flown competitively in August in a race meeting organised by the Automobile Club de France and the French maritime ministry on the bay at Saint-Malo. PIloted by Charles Weymann, the Nieuport finished fifth in the competition, collecting a FF 2,000 prize but also the "Jersey Speed Prize" for winning the course on day 3 of the competition, which involved a flight from Saint-Malo to Jersey and back that Weymann completed in 1 hour and 41 minutes. This success led to an order by the French Navy for seven machines, which were delivered to the Navy seaplane station at Saint-Raphaël in January the following year. The government of Japan also ordered three machines at this time, and orders from the governments of Italy, Russia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom were also received by the end of 1912. One month after the Saint-Malo event, a Type VI-G flown by Armand Gobé competed in trials at Tamise-sur-Escaut in Belgium, but finished tenth out of fifteen. Nieuport exhibited the type at the 1912 Salon de l'Aéronautique in Paris in December, and the aviation shows in Brussels and at Olympia in London in early 1913.
The type continued to appear in major sporting events in 1913, commencing with the Grand Prix d'Hydroplanes in Monaco on 12 April. Two VI-Gs were entered in the competition, one flown by Weymann and the other by Gabriel Espanet. The race was called off, however, due to bad weather that over the next few days saw Espanet break a leg, Weymann involved in a serious accident and thrown from his plane, and fellow racer Louis Gaudart killed. On 16 April, the inaugural Schneider Trophy race was held. Out of six entrants, only four actually started the race, including both Weymann and Espanet in their Nieuport VI-Gs. Weymann withdrew after only eight of the twenty-eight laps, and Espanet withdrew with engine trouble on lap 25. In August, two Nieuport VI-Gs were entered in the seaplane race from Paris to Deauville, flown by Adrien Levasseur and Charles Weymann. Weymann was forced to abandon the race, but Levasseur finished second with a time of 7 hours and 38 minutes over the 330 km course – four hours behind the winner.
1913 also saw the type used in long-distance flying. In July, a Nieuport VI-G was chosen by Julien Levasseur for a 2,500 kilometre long-distance flight around the North Sea, which he and his passenger achieved in six days, flying from Paris to London, Dunkirk, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Emden, Ostend, Rouen, and back to Paris, a trip which also included brief detention in London for having overflown sensitive areas of the city on arrival. In December, Jean Védrines and Marc Bonnier were amongst a number of French aviators who made flights from Paris to Cairo, both of them flying Nieuport VI-Gs.
- VI-G - initial seaplane version
- VI-H - refined seaplane version
- VI-M - military landplane
Data from Sanger 2002, p.29
- Crew: 1, pilot
- Capacity: 1–2 passengers
- Length: 8.70 m (28 ft 7 in)
- Wingspan: 12.25 m (40 ft 2 in)
- Wing area: 40 m2 (430 ft2)
- Empty weight: 700 kg (1,540 lb)
- Gross weight: 795 kg (1,750 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × Gnome rotary engine, 60 kW (80 hp)
- Maximum speed: 105 km/h (65 mph)
- Taylor 1989, p.696
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft, p.2597
- Sanger 2002, p.25
- "The Paris Aero Salon" 1912, 1026–27
- "Reflections on the Monaco Meeting" 1913, 485
- Hartmann 2006, p.7
- "The Nieuport Hydro-Aeroplane" 1913, p.430
- Sanger 2002, p.24
- "Hydro-Aeroplanes—St. Malo–Jersey Meeting" 1912, p.799
- Sanger 2002, p.26
- "The Olympia Show" 1913, 185–86
- Hartmann 2006, p.8
- "The Monaco Meeting" 1913, p.450
- Hartmann 2006, p.9
- "Deauville Waterplane Meeting" 1913, 961
- Levasseur 1913, 768
- Hartmann 2006, p.10
- "The Paris–Cairo Flight" 1913, p.1252
- "Bonnier May Go to Cairo" 1913, 1336
- Hartmann 2006, p.11
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nieuport VI.|
- "Bonnier May go to Cairo". Flight: 1336. 6 December 1913. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- "Deauville Waterplane Meeting". Flight: 961. 30 August 1913. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- Hartmann, Gérard (2006). "Les premiers Nieuport à flotteurs" (PDF). La Coupe Schneider et hydravions anciens/Dossiers historiques hydravions et moteurs. Retrieved 2008-07-18.
- "Hydro-Aeroplanes—St. Malo–Jersey Meeting". Flight: 799. 31 August 1912. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. London: Orbis Publishing.
- Levasseur, Julien (12 July 1913). "From Paris to London on a Nieuport Waterplane". Flight: 768–69. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- "The Monaco Meeting". Flight: 450. 19 April 1913. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- "The Nieuport Hydro-Aeroplane". Flight: 420. 19 April 1913. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- "The Olympia Show". Flight: 178–89. 15 February 1913. Retrieved 2008-12-19. Note: The online copy of this article is incomplete. The URL provided points to the first available page.
- "The Paris Aero Salon". Flight: 1022–28. 9 November 1912. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- "The Paris–Cairo Flight". Flight: 1252. 15 November 1913. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- "Reflections on the Monaco Meeting". Flight: 484–85. 15 November 1913. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- Sanger, Ray (2002). Nieuport Aircraft of World War One. Ramsbury: Crowood. ISBN 1-86126-447-X.
- Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. ISBN 0-7106-0710-5.