Nieuport 11 (bebe)

  • Scale:                            1:15
  • Release:                        1996
  • Limited Edition:              12
  • Model Size:                   20”L x 16”W x 7”H
  • Base Type:                    Black Walnut
  • Base/Case Size:           26”L x 20”Wx 12”H
  • Availability:                    Sold Out

The Nieuport 11, originally designed for racing by Gustave Delage for the 1914 Gordon Bennet Trophy race, was one of the most famous fighters of World War I.  The outbreak of the war canceled the meet, but the British (and later the French and Russians) ordered the plane at once. The Nieuport 11 entered service in the summer of 1915 and hundreds were built and flown until the end of the war.  After brilliant service in the French, British, Italian, Belgian, Dutch, and Russian air forces, and with the first American volunteers, it was replaced in the summer of 1916 by the Nieuport 16.

Originally formed as Nieuport-Duplex in 1902 for the manufacture of engine components, the company was reformed in 1909 as the Societe Generale d’Aero-locomotion.  During this time, their first aircraft were built, starting with a small single-seat monoplane, which was destroyed in a flood. A second design flew before the end of 1909 and had the essential form of the modern aircraft, including a non-lifting tail and an enclosed fuselage with the pilot fully protected from the elements.

In 1911, the company was reorganized specifically to build aircraft, with the name Nieuport et Deplante.  Shortly thereafter, Edouard Nieuport (one of several brothers) died after being thrown from his aircraft, and the company was taken over by Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe, a famous supporter of aviation development. With his financing, the name was changed to Societe Anonyme des Establissements Nieuport, and development of the existing designs continued.  However, in 1913 and 1914 the company began to lag behind and was setting fewer and fewer records, especially after Charles Nieuport (Brother no. 2) had died in another accident in 1912.  The position of chief designer was taken over by Franz Schneider, who would later have his next employer, L.V.G., build illegal copies of the (then hopelessly obsolete) Nieuport and have a long-running fight with Anthony Fokker over machine gun interrupter / synchronizer patents.

With Schneider’s departure, Gustave Delage took over, and major changes occurred immediately, including updates to the majority of the company’s designs.   He also began work on a biplane racer.  Technically, a sesquiplane as the lower wing was much smaller than the top, this aircraft wouldn’t be ready to fly until after World War I had begun. The plane’s performance was so good that it could be used as a fighter.  He initially had a hard time selling it, as the French had already settled on the aircraft they wanted.  However, the British Royal Naval Air Service was desperate for anything flyable, and bought a batch of what was designated the Nieuport 10.  They found these aircraft so useful that they not only bought more, but the French and Russians also bought them.  In response, Nieuport came out with an improved development specifically intended as a fighter – the Nieuport 11.  The French designation system considered it a type ‘B’.  In addition, Nieuport’s own internal designation system also labeled it as a type ‘B’ (for biplane – there had been a Nieuport 11 monoplane in 1914).  The result was the 11 BB – or as pronounced in French – bebe or baby.

Until 1917, most of the companies’ aircraft would be successive developments of this one design, with bigger engines, longer wings, and more refined fuselages, but it would reach the end of the road with the Nieuport 27. The basic design lasted so long partly because it combined the advantages of both monoplane (speed) and biplane (strength and visibility) while being supremely maneuverable and suffering no vices. Its climb rate was not to be beaten until 1918, with the arrival of the Fokker D.VII and Junkers D.I ‘thick wing’ fighters.