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Ponnier M.1

France (1916)
Picture of Ponnier M.1 Biplane Fighter Aircraft

The French-originated Ponnier M.1 biplane largely failed as a fighter - it was outclassed by many other designs appearing during World War 1.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Ponnier M.1 Biplane Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 2/6/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

While the earlier Ponnier L.1 biplane scout aircraft (detailed elsewhere on this site) failed to impress French authorities (despite it being based on the D.III monoplane racer), it served to provide a sound foundation for the company's next offering - the M.1. Design work on this aircraft was attributed to Emile Eugene Dupont with manufacture, once again, handled under the Avions Ponnier brand label. A first flight was recorded during 1915 as World War 1 raged in Europe and beyond and service introduction followed in 1916. However, the aircraft fared poorly as fighting platforms which led to an appropriately short service life - they were pulled from action as soon as November 1916. Adding insult to injury, just twenty or so of the design were manufactured in all.

With the earlier L.1, part of its failure resided in selection of a 50 horsepower engine. The fuselage was carried over from the D.III racer and biplane wing structure added to this. However the design held qualities that restricted its performance as a military product and no production contract arrived to award the work completed. Building upon this, the M.1 was given an unequal-span biplane wing arrangement featuring single bays and parallel struts with "cut outs" featured at both structures to help improve the pilot's vision out-of-the-cockpit. Power was now served through a Le Rhone 9C 9-cylinder rotary engine outputting 80 horsepower and this drove the usual two-bladed wooden propeller fitted to the nose of the aircraft. A rather oversized propeller spinner was added for aerodynamic integrity but, it was found, restricted engine cooling. On the whole, the new aircraft exhibited traditional fighter-like qualities of the period such as a slab-sided fuselage, an open-air cockpit and fixed wheel-and-skid undercarriage arrangement. Another key physical quality of note was the rather small tail planes used.
During January 1916, with ace Charles Nungesser at the controls, the prototype M.1 crashed (Nungesser survived) but this was not enough to derail the program for a production order called for a batch of the aircraft to be constructed. By this time, Avions Ponnier (as a brand label) was succeeded by La Societe Anonyme Francaise de Constructions Aeronautiques though Louis Ponnier still held control of his company. Despite a low production figure, the type saw operational service with Belgian air service units and a few examples were flown by the French though, in the latter, the aircraft did not attain official unit status. In Belgian service, the oversized propeller spinners were usually removed to improve airflow to the engine and several other control modifications were instituted but none of these changes produced a proper fighting aircraft. A poor review given by Belgian ace Willy Coppens all but doomed the M.1 and its use was given up before the end of 1916.

The related Ponnier M.2 was an attempt at a two-seat version of the M.1 relying on increased overall dimensions and intended to interest the British Royal Flying Corps. This version was never developed.

As completed, the M.1 could reach speeds of 104 miles per hour and managed a climb rate of 700 feet per minute. Armament was a single 7.7mm (0.303 caliber) Lewis machine gun. However, the M.1 lacked interrupter gear for this weapon and thus its placement was along the upper wing unit to clear the spinning propeller blades when fired.






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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (104mph).

    Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era Impact
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
20
20


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: France
Service Year: 1916
Classification Type: Biplane Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Avions Ponnier / La Societe Anonyme Francaise de Constructions Aeronautiques - France
Production Units: 20
Operational Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Belgium; France (trialed)
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Ponnier M.1 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
18.86 ft


Meters
5.75 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
20.28 ft


Meters
6.18 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
7.55 ft


Meters
2.3 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
672 lb


Kilograms
305 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
1,025 lb


Kilograms
465 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Le Rhone 9C 9-cylinder rotary engine developing 80 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller at the nose.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
104 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
167 kph


Knots
90 kts


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
700 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
213 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

1 x 7.7mm (0.303") Lewis machine gun fitted over the upper wing assembly.
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Variants: Series Model Variants
• M.1 - Base Series Name; single-seat biplane fighter.
• M.2 - Proposed two-seat fighter intended for the Royal Flying Corps; not produced.