Nieuport 11

Nieuport 11
Nieuport 11 WoW.JPG
Replica Nieuport 11 in Italian markings
Role Fighter
Manufacturer Nieuport
Designer Gustave Delage
Introduction 5 January 1916
Status retired
Primary users Aéronautique Militaire (France)
Corpo Aeronautico Militare (Italy), Imperial Russian Air Service
Variants Nieuport 16

The Nieuport 11 (or Nieuport XI C.1 in contemporary sources), nicknamed the Bébé, is a French World War I single seat sesquiplane fighter aircraft, designed by Gustave Delage.[1] It was the primary aircraft that ended the Fokker Scourge in 1916.[2] The type saw service with several of France's allies, and gave rise to the series of "vee-strut" Nieuport fighters that remained in service (latterly as trainers) into the 1920s.

Design and development[]

The Nieuport 11 is a new much smaller aircraft based on the general configuration of the Nieuport 10, but designed specifically as a single-seat fighter. 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 a single spar. Interplane struts in the form of a "Vee" joined the upper and lower wings. The sesquiplane layout reduced drag and improved the rate of climb, as well as offering a better view from the cockpit than either biplane or monoplane, while being substantially stronger than contemporary monoplanes. The narrow lower wing could experience aeroelastic flutter, but at air speeds beyond which the Nieuport 11 was capable, and would only become an occasional problem on later much higher powered developments, as well as the German Albatros D.III.[3] Nieuport 11s were supplied to the French Aéronautique Militaire, the British Royal Naval Air Service, the Imperial Russian Air Service, the Belgian Air Force, and Italian Corpo Aeronautico Militare. 646 Nieuport 11s were produced by the Italian Macchi company under licence.[3] After Romania suffered military setbacks, one Nieuport 11, and several Nieuport 12s were transferred from RNAS No.2 Wing as part of the Romanian Flight mission.[4] Additional airplanes received were assembled at Rezerva generală a aviației, however the exact number of Nieuport 11s delivered is unknown.[5]

Nieuport 16[]

In 1916 an improved version appeared as the Nieuport 16, which was a strengthened Nieuport 11 airframe powered by a 110 hp (82 kW) Le Rhône 9J rotary engine.[2] Visible differences included a larger aperture in front of the "horse shoe" cowling and a headrest for the pilot.[3] The Nieuport 16 was an interim type pending the delivery of the slightly larger Nieuport 17 C.1 whose design was begun in parallel with the 16, and remedied the 16's balance problems, as well as further improving performance.[6]

Operational history[]

Nieuport 11 of the Escadrille Américaine (later Escadrille Lafayette)

The Nieuport 11 reached the French front in January 1916, and 90 were in service within the month.

This small sesquiplane outclassed the Fokker Eindecker in every respect, including speed, climb rate and maneuverability. It featured ailerons for lateral control rather than the Fokker's wing warping, giving lighter, quicker roll response, and its elevator was attached to a conventional tail plane which provided better pitch control as opposed to the all-moving, balanced "Morane type" elevators of the Fokker.

The Fokker's sole remaining advantage was its synchronized machine gun, which fired forward through the arc of its propeller. At the time, the Allies lacked a similar system, and the Nieuport 11's Lewis machine gun[note 1] was mounted to fire over the propeller, allowing uninterrupted forward fire. The Lewis was not synchronizable, due to its open bolt firing cycle design which resulted in an unpredictable rate of fire.[citation needed] Clearing gun jams and replacing ammunition drums in flight were challenging though, and the drums limited ammunition supply.

During the course of the Battle of Verdun in February 1916, the combination of the Nieuport 11s technical advantages and its concentration in dedicated fighter units allowed the French to establish air superiority, ending the so-called "Fokker Scourge" and forced radical changes in German tactics. The impact of the Nieuport was so dramatic that in mid to late 1916 several captured examples were repaired, rearmed with a synchronised "Spandau" gun, and flown at the front.[7] Others were supplied by Idflieg to several manufacturers with the request that copies be built, and this had considerable influence on German fighter design.

Some Nieuport 11s and 16s were fitted to fire Le Prieur rockets from the struts for attacks on observation balloons and airships.[3]

By March 1916 the Bébé was being replaced by both the Nieuport 16 and the much improved Nieuport 17, although Italian-built examples remained in first line service longer, as did Russian examples. Thereafter the Nieuport 11s continued to be used as trainers.[3]


Nieuport 11 C.1
Single-seat fighter/scout biplane. Also known as the Nieuport Bébé or Nieuport Scout although these were used for any Nieuport fighter.
Nieuport-Macchi 11000 or 11.000
Variant built under licence in Italy with some detail modifications.
Nieuport 16 C.1
Improved version powered by a 110 hp (92 kW) Le Rhone 9J rotary piston engine.


Italian Nieuport-Macchi 11.000 drawing
 Kingdom of Italy
 Russian Empire
 United Kingdom
Original Nieuport 11 Bébé displayed at the Musée de l'Air in France

Survivors and reproductions[]

Specifications (Nieuport 11 C.1)[]

French Nieuport N.11 C.1 drawing

Data from Davilla, 1997, pp.360 & 364, and Pommier, 2002, p.169

General characteristics



See also[]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ "Нијепор 11".
  2. ^ a b Chant & Taylor 2007, p. 14.
  3. ^ a b c d e Fitzsimons 1967/1969, p. 1989.
  4. ^ a b Avram & Armă 2018, p. 13.
  5. ^ a b Dan Antoniu (2014). Illustrated History of Romanian Aeronautics. p. 48. ISBN 978-973-0-17209-6.
  6. ^ Cheeseman 1960, p. 92.
  7. ^ Van Wyngarden 2006, p.45
  8. ^ a b c Davilla, 1997, p.362
  9. ^ a b c d e Davilla, 1997, p.360
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Davilla, 1997, p.361
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Davilla, 1997, p.363
  12. ^ a b Avram & Armă 2018, p. 21.
  13. ^ a b c d e Avram & Armă 2018, p. 22.
  14. ^ a b c d e Davilla, 1997, p.365
  15. ^ Rimell, 1990, p.86
  16. ^ "Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome – World War 1 Aircraft – Nieuport 11". Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2013.


  1. ^ A few aircraft were at first fitted with Hotchkiss guns and, in Italian service, with the Fiat-Revelli until the Lewis was available in sufficient numbers.