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Nieuport 17

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Nieuport 17
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Nieuport
Maiden flight January 1916
Primary user Aéronautique Militaire

The Nieuport 17 was a French biplane fighter aircraft of World War I, manufactured by the Nieuport company.

Design and development

It was a slightly larger development of the earlier Nieuport 11, and had a more powerful engine, larger wings, and a more refined structure in general. At first, it was equipped with a 110 hp (82 kW) Le Rhône 9J engine, though later versions were upgraded to a 130 hp (97 kW) engine. It had outstanding maneuverability, and an excellent rate of climb. Unfortunately, the narrow lower wing - which marked it as a "sesquiplane" design, with literally "one-and-a-half wings" - was weak and had a disconcerting tendency to disintegrate in flight, from the lower wing's single spar construction.

Initially the Nie 17 retained the above wing mounted Lewis gun of the "11", but, at least in French service, this was generally replaced by a synchronised Vickers gun. In the Royal Flying Corps, the wing mounted Lewis was usually retained, by now on the improved Foster mounting, a curved metal rail which allowed the pilot to bring the gun down in order to change drums or clear jams. A few individual aircraft carried both guns - but in practice this reduced performance unacceptably.

Operational history

File:Nieuport 17 at Festival of History 07.jpg
A Nieuport 17 in flight at a display in 2007.

The type reached the French front in March 1916, and quickly began to replace the Nieuport 11 in French service. It was also ordered by the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service, as it was superior to any British fighter at that time. Worthy of note is the fact that during part of 1916 the Nie 17 equipped every fighter squadron of the Aviation Militaire. The Germans supplied captured examples to several of their aircraft manufacturers for them to copy. This resulted in the Siemens-Schuckert D.I which, apart from the engine installation, was a close copy and actually went into production, although in the event it was not used operationally on the Western Front.

By early 1917, the Nieuport was outclassed in most respects by the latest German fighters. Newer models (the Nieuport 24 and the 27) were brought out in an attempt to retain the type's ascendency. However, the SPAD S.VII had already replaced the Nieuport fighters in many French squadrons by that summer.

Many Allied air aces flew Nieuport fighters, including Canadian ace W.A. Bishop, who received a Victoria Cross while flying it, and (most famously of all) Albert Ball.


Common cultural appearace

In the movie "Flyboys" (2006) the young american volunteer pilots fly Nieuport 17s.

Specifications (Nie 17)

General characteristics

  • Crew: one, pilot
  • Length: 5.8 m (19 ft)
  • Wingspan: 8.2 m (26 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in)
  • Wing area: 14.75 m² (158.77 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 375 kg (827 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 560 kg (1,235 lb)
  • Powerplant:Le Rhône 9J 9-cylinder rotary engine, 82kW (110 hp)




  • Nieuport Fighters in Action published by Squadron/Signal Publications
  • Cheesman E.F. (ed.) Fighter Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War Letchworth, Harletford Publications, 1960 pp. 94-95

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft
Siemens-Schuckert D.I
Fokker Dr.I Designation sequence
12 - 14 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 20 - 21 Related lists

See also

cs:Nieuport 17 de:Nieuport 17 fr:Nieuport 17 no:Nieuport 17 pl:Nieuport 17 fi:Nieuport 17