As supplies of the new SPAD S.XIII were limited for the incoming Americans, the Nieuport 28 was passed on to them - becoming the first operational fighter to be flown by American airmen in the war. The N.28 was the aircraft that spawned the careers of aces like Eddie Rickenbacker (26 kills). Unlike the preceding Nieuport 17 design, the N.28 was handed a more powerful engine in the Gnome 9N rotary of 160 horsepower (over the N.17's Le Rhone 9J of 110hp). All-new wings were also fitted (the upper and lower sections of nearly the same area) as were a pair of fixed, forward-firing Vickers machine guns (the N.17 carried just one machine gun). The V-struts so common to earlier Nieuports were now replaced by a more traditional parallel strut approach which offered increased strength to the upper and lower wing spans. The fuselage took on an ever more streamlined shape from nose to tail - the engine shrouded by a curved metal assembly and the tail unit set at the extremely end of the tapered fuselage. The empennage included a single vertical fin and low-set horizontal planes. The pilot sat under and aft of the upper wing unit. The undercarriage remained fixed with wheels at the main legs and a simple skid at the tail. First flight of this product was recorded on June 14th, 1917.
297 N.28s were ultimately produced - as well as several prototypes beyond these - and a bulk of these served with the Americans. Production was eventually handled by both Nieuport and Liore et Olivier though early deliveries were seen sans their machine guns. The lack of proper armament limited the aircraft to training for the interim. In time, as the required machine guns became available, the aircraft proved went on to make its own legacy as a suitable gunnery platform. The American groups fielding the N.28 were the 27th, 94th, 95th, and 147th Aero Squadrons while a few N.28s made their way into U.S. Navy service where they were launched from USN battleships for over-the-horizon work.
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