World War One history lesson in a Nieuport airplane

Cockpit of replica Nieuport

Checking out the Nieuport instruments

The VAFM also has acquired a Nieuport replica. This one they aren’t planning to fly; they’re modifying it for kids to play in.  Mainly by removing breakable things and turning the rear seat around to make a tail gunner position.  As you can see, even unmodified, the hard part is convincing a small boy to get out of it.

The Nieuport cockpit

Pulling back on the throttle

Smiling face in the Nieuport

The fun of WWI history lessons

Here is another Rickenbacker quote, about the Nieuport’s place in WWI:

At first planes were unarmed, but it was not long before airmen began trying to knock one another out of the skies.

Planes on both sides developed rapidly.  No matter what innovation one side might develop, the other was quick to find out about it, copy it and incorporate it in a new design.  In most cases these secrets were learned from planes that had been shot or forced down behind the lines.

A Frenchman named Roland Garros introduced aerial combat as we knew it.  He mounted a machine gun directly in front of him, so that aiming the plane aimed the gun.  To prevent the bullets from shooting away the wooden propeller, he screwed metal plates on the blades.  He was a terror on his first forays over the lines.  It must have been like shooting fish in a barrel.  He became the world’s first ace.  But his engine conked out over German territory, and the secret was out.  The great Dutch plane designer, Anthony Fokker, improved on Garros’s principle by synchronizing the gun with the propeller, so that the bullets would fire through it.  The Germans made several easy kills until the Allies caught up.  The first equalizer was the 15-meter Nieuport, which had a machine gun mounted on the top wing so that it would fire over the propeller.

The Germans countered with the Albatros, in which Von Richthofen scored the majority of his victories.  Fokker’s DR-1, a triplane, was next.  Hermann Goering flew a triplane, and Von Richthofen was shot down in one while trying for his 81st victim.  The D-7, maneuverable, speedy, and tough, came out in mid-1918.

- Edward V. Rickenbacker, Rickenbacker: An Autobiography(Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1967), 138

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