French Aircraft Models
by Karen Rychlewski

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The brothers Armand and Henri Dufaux of Geneva were the most successful of the Swiss pioneers of aviation. The C1 was, at the least, an imaginative approach to the problem of using a forward-firing machine gun on an airplane. The 110 hp Le Rhône engine was mounted inside the fuselage near the center of gravity and rotated through a slot in the lower fuselage. The propellor was connected  to the engine by a hollow shaft which was itself connected to two star-shaped frameworks on either end of the fuselage: this was the only thing holding the airframe together aside from two tie rods running from the undercarriage struts to the tail skid.  The pilot and gunner sat side by side in the cockpit in the extreme nose of the craft. This plane actually was sent to Escadrille N95 for operational trials--wiser heads prevailed and only the one prototype was ever built.

This model was built from the 1/72 Scaleplanes vacuform kit, with Aeroclub engine, propellor, seats, and Lewis gun. Rigging is 'invisible' nylon thread, and all painting was by brush with oil-base enamels.

Morane-Saulnier Type N

In 1911, Raymond Saulnier and his childhood friends Leon and Robert Morane formed the Morane-Saulnier Airplane company to manufacture monoplanes. In December, 1913, they exhibited two shoulder-wing monoplanes, Types G and H, and an early Type L parasol-wing monoplane, at the Paris Salon. Within six months, they produced the first Type N, a significant development of the G/H: it retained the shoulder-wing design, but faired out the fuselage into a circular cross section, and a large spinner nearly covered the 80 hp Gnome engine (this was later to cause cooling problems.) Despite its relatively sleek and streamlined appearance, the airplane's early date was betrayed by its flimsy tail surfaces and its use of wing-warping instead of ailerons for flight control. When war came, the Morane-Saulnier aircraft were among the first to fly over the trenches; a primitive method of firing a machine gun through the arc of the propellor, using bullet-deflecting steel wedges on the back of the propellor, was installed on Type L aircraft and later on the Type N. A revised Type N made its appearance in the summer of 1915, with the 80 hp Le Rhone engine now standard; it was immediately popular with French pilots but the 25 or so built were scattered among various escadrilles. The British bought another 25 'Bullets' and had moderate success against German observation planes until the introduction of the Fokker E series airplanes.

The model is built from the 1/48 Sierra vacuform kit, and represents the plane of the French ace, Jean Navarre. The entire interior, tail skid, gun mount, and all braces were scratch-built, and the engine, propellor, wheels, and machine gun are Aeroclub cast metal parts. Many small Fotocut PE parts were also used. Rigging is 'invisible' nylon monofilament thread. All surfaces, including the national markings and MS logo, were hand-painted in oil enamel by brush. Chartpak plastic tape was used to simulate the wooden reinforcement strips on the wings; I now know that these are far too wide, but they still look cool. This feature is often missed by modelers doing the Types N and I: rib tapes would be incorrect for this airplane. Just for the record, this model is 10 years old and no sagging or stretching of the monofilament has occurred.

Primary reference: Color Profiles of World War I Combat Planes, Giorgio Apostolo & Giorgio Begnozzi, translated by Dale McAdoo, Crescent Books, NY, 1974

Morane-Saulnier Type AI

he Morane-Saulnier company specialized in monoplanes, producing a series of models with good flying characteristics. The fear of monoplanes, however, limited their role in the air war and the Type AI was the last to suffer this prejudice. Developed from the Type P, the AI was a single-seat fighter which first flew in August, 1917, and was offered to British forces but Major-General Trenchard adamantly refused to consider it. Well over 1000 of the Type AI were produced in two versions: the single-gun MoS.27.C1, and the two-gun MoS.29.C1. Re-equipping of Nieuport escadrilles with the new Morane-Saulnier began in January, 1918, and the plane was used by French, Belgian, and American forces. However, several fatal accidents in February and March involving the failure of the wing caused the type to be withdrawn. By May, 1918, all the Types AI were gone from front-line duties.

This model was built from the 1/72 Formaplane vacuform kit with the addition of Aeroclub engine, propellor, wheels, and machine gun. Extensive detailing was done in the cockpit with scratch-built parts and Fotocut PE brass elements, and all struts and braces were scratch-built. Rigging is 'invisible' nylon thread; roundels are Microscale decals. The serial number and all other surfaces were brush painted with oil-base enamels.


Edouard de Niéport (1875-1911) founded the Nieuport company in 1909 and built only monoplanes until 1914. The type IVG appeared in 1911 and was highly successful; by mid-1912 the French, British, and Italian armies and the R.N.A.S. had each purchased up to a dozen of the two-seaters, including some modified as floatplanes. In October, 1911, Capitano Moizo of the Italian Battaglione Specialisti made possibly the first-ever reconnaissance flight by a military airplane during the war in Libya. Some of the first static and airborne machine gun tests were done with this plane, with the gun mounted in a tubular 'pulpit' to fire over the arc of the propellor. The IVG was also very successful in civil endeavors, setting new speed and distance records almost every time it flew.

This model was built from the 1/72 Scaleplanes vacuform kit. The engine, propellor, and seats are cast metal; and Fotocut PE parts were used in the cockpit and for the wire wheels. Rigging is 'invisible' nylon thread. All painting was by brush using oil-base enamels.

Primary reference: Pioneer Aircraft 1903-1914, Kenneth Munson, Macmillan Co., 1969

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