[WWI] Knut's Le Bourget racers

iban ibancorp at tds.net
Sun Feb 27 17:48:39 EST 2005

> > Photos 1 & 2 : what is this ? Some early Nieuport?
> >
> > Sanjeev
> >
> 1 and 2 certainly look very similar to the two Nieuport monoplanes in the
> Munson Pioneer Aircraft book, though both of these have rotary engines.
> But why does picture 1 have a striped rudder?
> regards
> Steve

it is a nie ii-n, (i think a middle to late variant of the nie ii) believed
to be the last ii-n the factory produced.  it has the flat opposed 2 cyl
engine (initially an 18 hp darracq, later a much improved 28 hp model of the
same layout, made by nieuport himself).  our man edi tried various
tailplanes on the nie ii; this looks like after the universally jointed
tailplain, the twin ruddered, and the swallow-tailed variants, so the
tailplane here is possibly post-october 1910, after which edouard and
charles settled on the same stabilizers as we'd see later in the nie iv and
vi.  it is apparently unknown as to whether these were all mods to the same
airframe, or whether they appeared on new aircraft of the same type

this one was rebuilt in about 1919 by the nieuport firm and donated to the
musee, and has been recovered and refurbished at least once (1943) since
then.  the engine shown in the display now, the 28 hp nieuport, was
assembled from parts remaining at the factory.

i'm guessing the striped rudder was because this plane probably represented
france in  the 1911 gordon bennett cup challenge that various nations
entered, but one of our racing experts would be better qualified to comment
on the markings.  the other alternative i suppose is that it was entered in
military trials, but then i wouldn't expect to see it in the racing display
at m.a.e.

this particular aircraft is the very nie 2-n in which nieuport won several
of the major competitions of the day, and in which, after experimentation at
gustave eiffel's wind tunnel testing facility, he proved how much more speed
could be had with less horsepower thru the use of streamlining; he covered
the entire fuselage, and seated the pilot so low that only his head stuck
out of the cockpit (vs. early antoinette's and the like, where the pilot sat
high in the slipstream and created all sorts of drag, or the typical
voisin/farman seating, completely exposed).

world records taken by this particular aircraft:
-  march 9 1911, 109 km/h
-  may 11, 1911, fastest aircraft in the world, 119 km/h
-  sept 1911, circuit de paris, 200 km @ 120 km/h
-  1914 prix de veute, 18,000 francs
-  probably also the machine in which edouard placed 3rd (with only 28 hp!)
in the 1911 gordon bennett cup race, won by american charles t. weymann,
also flying a nieuport 2, but powered by a 100 hp gnome rotary.

most of this info comes from the wwi aero article on 1910 nieuport
monoplanes in issue 53, by bill hannan.  (the very one you sent me just a
few weeks ago sanjeev.  thanks!)



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