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NIEUPORT/HUNTLEY 11 – N2001

The only original Nieuport 11 known to exist is in the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace in France, but numerous replicas of this WW I fighter have been built. Among the latest is this full-scale static replica completed in 2003. It was built from scratch by its donor, Arthur Huntley, who was guided by plans for the Lou Proctor R/C model and numerous vintage photographs.

Gustave Delage joined Nieuport as its design chief in 1914. His first design, the Nieuport 10, was a two-seat general reconnaissance aircraft, but performed well as a fighter when flown as a single-seater. This led Delage to design the smaller but similar Nieuport 11.

The Type 11 was known as the bébé and as the “13 metre” Nieuport, a reference to its wing area. Design work began in 1915 and the first operational Nieuport 11 reached the front in French service on 5 January 1916. While a difficult airplane to fly, the Nieuport 11, when operated by experienced pilots, enabled the French to regain air superiority over the German Fokker E.III.

The Type 11 played a vital role in controlling the skies over the Battles of Verdun and the Somme. Yet, so quick was the progress in aircraft design during the war, that by mid-1916, the Nieuport 11 was being replaced by its more powerful sibling, the Nieuport 16. Some were re-engined in the field with 110 hp LeRhone engines and designated Nieuport 11Cs. Others were relegated to training units.

Like many WWI aircraft, the Nieuport 11 saw use by many different countries. They were operated by the air forces of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Serbia, the Ukraine and the United Kingdom. Post-war two Type 11s went to Siam where they operated as trainers until 1933.

The Nieuport 11 was a single-place biplane fighter. The design with its much larger upper wing is known as a sesquiplane. This was felt to aid maneuverability and strength. The dihedral of the single-spar lower wing could be ground adjusted up to 6° to compensate for different engines and total weight. The upper wing carried the ailerons, had two spars and was placed 0.60 meters ahead of the lower wing. There is no vertical stabilizer. The single axle landing gear was attached by V-struts and the tailskid was a steel spring.

Armament was not state-of-the-art even for WW I standards due to the lack of an interrupter gear. The single machine gun mounted above the upper wing fired above the propeller arc. Its mount allowed it to be tipped back so the pilot could change the circular ammunition drum.

Engines used were 50, 60 or 80 hp Gnome or LeRhône rotaries. They provided impressive maneuverability but that trait also made the aircraft difficult to fly. In use the lower wing was known to fracture under stress with the expected fatal result.

Arthur Huntley donated his Nieuport 11 to the EAA AirVenture Museum in 2004.

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