Nieuport 17 History
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Appearing on the Western Front on March 1916, the Nieuport 17 was a progressive development of the Nieuport 11 and Nieuport 16 single-seaters, and was to become the most successful and famous of all the Nieuport fighters to serve in the 1914-18 war. It was evolved directly from the Nieuport 16, retaining the same powerplant but introducing enlarged-area wings (15 instead of 13 sqm) and various detail improvements. Later productions aircraft introduced a fixed synchronised Vickers gun in front of the pilot, in addition to or instead of the Lewis mounted over the centre-section. In general, the weight of the second gun and its ammunition was found to affect the aircraft’s ceiling and climbing rate to an unacceptable extent, and it was generally used as a single-gun fighter. Like the Nieuport 16, the 17 was also used for anti-Zeppelin attacks, armed with Le Prieur rockets.
The Nieuport 17 was undoubtedly a great improvement over the Nieuport 16, and was built in large numbers in France, Russia and Britain. French contractors building the type included Société pour la Construction et l’Entretien d’Avions (CEA), the Ateliers d’Aviation R. Savary et H. de la Fresnaye, and the Société Anonyme Française de la Construction Aéronautiques (SAFC). The type saw extensive service with the Aviation Miliaire, being used notably by Nungesser, Madon and Guynemer in the Escadrille Cignones. One French escadrille equipped with the Nieuport 17 took part in the defence of Venice. It was also used by one unit of the Aviation Maritime. About 500 Nieuport 17s and Nieuport 23s were used by the Royal Flying Corps; two of the British aces using it were Ball and Mannock.
The Nieuport 17 was built in Italy by Niuport-Macchi, 150 of which were powered with the 110 h.p. Le Rhône and given the type number 17.000. These were armed with a single with a single Vickers machine-gun, and some were equipped for photographic reconnaissance. The aircraft was also used in Russia, Belgium and Holland; the latter country built twenty, and five were still in service in 1918 as trainers. Finland was provided with two examples, and the American Expeditionary Force was equipped with seventy-five. France, Holland and Romania also used the 17 bis, similar except for a 130 h.p. Clerget in a modified cowling, and examples of this version were also evaluated in Britain and U.S.A.
The Nieuport 17 and its derivates eventually gave way to the SPAD S.VII but in August 1917 there were still over 300 on strength.