Nieuport 17 Fighting Biplane Scout Aircraft
The Nieuport 17 of 1916 was a continuation of fighting excellence first revealed in the Nieuport 11 of 1915.
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Fresh off of the heels of the success that was the Nieuport 11, the Nieuport 17 was a direct development intended to improve upon the former design. The Nieuport 11 was born of the prewar Nieuport 10 competition airplane which was abandoned as a competition mount and adopted for military service by several world powers instead. The Nieuport 11 was then a militarized version of the Nieuport 10 and retained the excellent qualities of the design including its sesquiplane biplane wing configuration, single-seat open-air cockpit and strong handling characteristics. The Nieuport 11 was critical in turning the tide of the dreaded "Fokker Scourge" in 1916 as it outpaced and outperformed the German monoplanes with relative ease. Nieuport then attempted to improved the Nieuport 11 even further with the Nieuport 16 though its selection of engine made for a significantly nose-heavy design. As such, next came the Nieuport 17 which ended its tenure as one of the best Allied fighter designs in all of World War 1.
The Nieuport 17 incorporated a dimensionally larger airframe and biplane wing assembly while retaining the same general single-seat layout. Additionally, a more powerful engine was utilize for improved performance at altitude - this being a Le Rhone 9J series 9-cylinder rotary engine of 110 horsepower. The airframe, therefore, could reach speeds of 110 miles per hour and fielded an endurance of nearly two hours while being able to fight at altitudes reaching 17,400 feet. Rate-of-climb was listed at 9,800 feet within 12 minutes.
Outwardly, the Nieuport 17 following along the lines of accepted World War 1 fighter design. The engine and wing arrangement were all set well-ahead in the layout, the engine powering a simple two-bladed wooden propeller in a "puller" configuration. The upper and lower wing assemblies were of uneven span utilizing "V-struts". Such a wing development was traced back to the sesquiplane arrangement on the original Nieuport 10 racer which essentially identified a lower wing assembly that was decidedly smaller than the upper assembly. The wings were completed with single-bays so only a single instance of the V-strut support was apparent to either side of the fuselage. The engine compartment was covered over in a rounded metal cowling which was well-integrated into the boxy fuselage constructed primarily of canvas and wood. The open-air cockpit was situated behind and under the upper wing assembly. The fuselage tapered off at the aft end to which a single, shallow rounded vertical tailplane was fitted as well as a pair of horizontal planes. The undercarriage was fixed and consisted of two landing wheels set about a reinforced structure with a tail skid at the rear. This arrangement gave the Nieuport design a noticeable "nose-up" appearance when at rest. Such aircraft were also called to operate from rough airfields and did so under many circumstances during the war.