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Nieuport Nighthawk

Biplane Fighter Aircraft

Nieuport Nighthawk

Biplane Fighter Aircraft


The Nighthawk was plagued early on with an overheating engine, though the design showed enough promise as a whole to set a speed record during its time aloft.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United Kingdom
YEAR: 1923
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Nieuport & General Aircraft Company Ltd - UK
OPERATORS: the United Kingdom, Japan and Greece.

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Nieuport Nighthawk model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 18.01 feet (5.49 meters)
WIDTH: 27.99 feet (8.53 meters)
HEIGHT: 8.99 feet (2.74 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 1,504 pounds (682 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 2,529 pounds (1,147 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x ABC Dragonfly I 9-cylinder radial engine developing 340hp.
SPEED (MAX): 150 miles-per-hour (241 kilometers-per-hour; 130 knots)
RANGE: 310 miles (499 kilometers; 269 nautical miles)
CEILING: 24,898 feet (7,589 meters; 4.72 miles)

2 x 7.7mm Vickers machine guns
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun

Series Model Variants
• Nighthawk - Production Model Designation; fitted with ABC Dragonfly engine.
• Gloster Bamel (Mars 1) - single production racing variant based on the Nighthawk; fitted with Napier Lion engine of 450 horsepower.
• Gloster 1 - Improved Gloster Bamel (Mars 1) model with smaller wing area and improved engine output.
• Gloster Sparrowhawk (Mars II, III, IV) - Japanese naval fighter designation.
• Gloster Nighthawk (Mars VI) - Based on Nighthawk model but fitted with either Jaguar OR Jupiter type engines.
• Nieuport Nightjar (Mars X) - British naval fighter designation.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Nieuport Nighthawk Biplane Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/15/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Nieuport Nighthawk began as a design showing great promise. Development began in 1918, the final year of World War 1, and was the product of the Nieuport & General Aircraft firm - a British-based company started during the war to produce French-made Nieuport fighters as needed. This experience no doubt led to some self-empowering as the firm began design work on their own products under the direction of Henry Folland that would eventually give birth to the Nieuport Nighthawk, a fighter of great performance and capability but marred by and unstable and relatively new engine.

To understand the history of the Nighthawk itself, one must revisit the war years. A requirement was put forth by the British Air Ministry for a fighter powered by the new ABC Dragonfly engine, a radial type designed to output some 340 horsepower and was of relatively light weight. This new type of fighter would eventually replace the aging Sopwith Snipe types in service. Nieuport & General went to work under Folland and produced the Nighthawk but by this time the war was long over and the Dragonfly powerplant was beginning to show some ugly results. The engine had a propensity to overheat and proved to be quite the gas-guzzler. Additionally, the engine was designed to a fault to where it vibrated heavily in the airframe. Despite this, it was a promising engine married to a promising airframe. As such, the Nighthawk still impressed when the powerplant allowed it to do so.

Despite the progress there were simply too many negatives attached to the engine and the entire powerplant development was cancelled. This came too late for the Nighthawk design, of which some 70 had already been completed despite the problems. By 1920, Nieuport & General itself had gone away and the design was eventually purchased under the Gloster label, to which the aircraft became the Gloster Mars. From there, a variety of Nighthawk-based designs began to appear, some as sport racing aircraft with more powerful engines and subtle design changes whilst others were produced for military service in the British and Japanese branches.

During its lifetime, the Nighthawk and its derivatives were subject to engine changes as seen fit, some sporting Bentleys and Siddeley brands while others were powered by Bristol brand engines. Armament consisted of a World War 1 type arrangement of twin 7.7mm Vickers machine guns mounted in front of the pilot and firing through a synchronized two-blade propeller. Overall design was also consisted with World War 1 types in that the Nighthawk featured a standard biplane design layout.

Greece became just the third operator of the Nighthawk when it acquired some 25 Nighthawks from the British RAF.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (150mph).

Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Nieuport Nighthawk's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (70)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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