Nieuport 1-27

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They develop airframes designated the Nieuport 42 and the Nieuport 6 floatplane, both series-produced for individual clients and the military. The Nieuport 4M (Militaire), piloted by Weyman, was a competitor in a military aircraft bid (Concours Militaire), beating all the opponents. The French army ordered no less than ten Nieuports, the British ordered five for the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and twelve for the Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS), five of the latter fitted with floats. Russia also ordered the aircraft, additionally obtaining production license. Nieuport 4s also equipped units of the Italian and Swedish air forces. At the beginning of the 1914 warfare, Nieuport 4s constituted a significant part of the Entente air forces’ equipment. They were most widespread in Russia.

The Nieuport 6, offered to the French Navy, underwent tests at Meulan – they were supervised by Navy officer Lieutenant de Vaisseau Gustave Delage. He became so fascinated by aviation that he requested to be dispatched to the Nieuport factory, which happened on January 1, 1914. His energy and designer’s talent soon placed him at the chief designer’s post. The first objective he set for the company was to build an aircraft for the coming Gordon Bennett cup race to be held in the same year. Delage preferred the biplane construction, but not the traditional one. He used one large-area plane plus a much smaller one (by about a half of the former). This solution was termed the ‘sesquiplane’ in French (‘one and a half plane’). It featured a v-shaped interplane strut – the designer claimed that this solution ensured a much better performance, speed being in the first place. Additionally, a pivot joint at the apex of the vee-strut was to allow change of the angle of incidence and thus the adjustment of the aircraft’s balancing.

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Today, there are still various views on the origin of the sesquiplane construction. Some authors ascribe it to a Swiss named Schneider, a Société employee, who later left for Germany. In any case, this solution continued across the Nieuport designs till mid-thirties.
The outbreak of war in August 1914 interrupted the development of the racing plane. Delage enters Navy service but is retired at the beginning of 1915 and returns to his work as chief designer with the Société. The French air forces urgently need new and good aircraft, for the equipment that the Aviation Militaire had had at its disposal had quickly been found obsolete and not up to the requirements of the war. The aircraft was to be armed so as to fight the enemy in the air and on the ground. It was also to serve as a reconnaissance tool, so important in this kind of warfare, as it allowed watching the rear enemy positions much farther than those available to observation balloons. On top of that, photographs were to be taken from the aircraft to provide a lasting and certain evidence for analysis at the headquarters.
The first half of 1915 saw the birth of the Nieuport 10, also called the ‘18 m2’. This airframe became the basis of Delage’s aircraft. The fuselage was a wire-braced wooden box girder. It had a rectangular cross-section with a rounded top and contained a two-seat pilot-and-observer cockpit. The front part was covered with plywood or aluminum sheets, the rest being covered with fabric.

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The wings were wooden, the upper one two-spar, the lower single-spar, both with about a 3030’ sweep-back. The spars were two moldings glued to a plywood strip. Two upper wing ribs near the inboard ends of the ailerons were reinforced. The ailerons were fitted to the upper plane only, and mounted on a dia. 30 mm aluminum tube running almost along the entire wing span to up to a cutout in the center section. The tubes ended with an oval lever connected to the control stick through push-pull rods. The lower wing was divided and mounted to the fuselage, whereas the upper was single-piece and fitted to the fuselage by means of steel tubing. Both wings were connected by streamline-section ash vee-struts. Each strut was bound with cloth for added strength. The struts were attached to the spars by pivot joints. The wing cell was braced with steel wire.
A flat-profile steel-tubing tailplane was fitted to the fuselage. The rudder was of the same construction. The tail unit had a characteristic shape. The control surfaces were activated by cords. The wings, ailerons and control surfaces were fabric-covered.
The rubber cord shock absorption landing gear featured wheels mounted on an axle held by steel vee-legs as well as a tail skid in the form of a leaf spring mounted on a wooden streamlined projection.

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