Nieuport 11

The Nieuport 11 was a French World War I single seat fighter aircraft, which became one of the most famous fighters of the war. It was originally designed for racing by Gustave Delage; but with the outbreak of the war, the British and French ordered the plane at once. The Nieuport 11 entered military service in the summer of 1915. Hundreds were built and flown until the end of the war. It was flown by some of France’s greatest aces: Guynemer, de Rose and Nungesser, and it became famous as one of the aircraft that ended the ‘Fokker Scourge’ in 1916.

The design of the Nieuport 11 was a smaller, neater version of the Nieuport 10. Like the “10,” the “11” was a sesquiplane, a biplane with a full-sized top wing with two spars and a lower wing of much narrower chord and just one spar. It was called “Bebe” (Baby) because of its small size. The armament on the Nieuport 11 was a Lewis gun, mounted above the center section of the wing to fire above the propeller arc. The little Nieuport quickly became popular with Allied flyers for it had a good rate of climb and was very maneuverable. The powerplant was the 80 horsepower Le Rhone rotary engine, installed in a horseshoe-shaped cowling.

French Escadrilles first received the Nieuport 11 during the summer of 1915, and it helped to win temporary air superiority for the Allies over the Fokker Monoplane flown by the Germans at that time. Toward the end of 1916, the Nieuport 11 began to be replaced by the higher-powered, better armed Nieuport 17 in response to the introduction by Germany of higher performance aircraft.

The Nieuport 11 had a brilliant service in the French, British, Italian, Belgian, Dutch and Russian air forces and had the first American volunteers. The British usually painted their Nieuports all silver, while those of the French and Americans were camouflaged light brown and medium or dark green.

The Museum’s Nieuport 11 is a reproduction built by Walter Addems and Joseph Pfiefer in Porterville, California in 1962. It was owned by Walter Addems for 20 years, during which time he flew his Nieuport for more than 600 hours before generously donating the plane to the Museum in November 1982.

The aircraft is painted with the personal marking of a stylized RL for Raoul Lufbery, who was the first American ace in World War I while flying with the Lafayette Escadrille.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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