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Paul K. Guillow, Inc. Balsa Wood Airplanes NIEUPORT II

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Kit Number: 203 Wing Span: 24" Scale: 1/16 Plan Blown to 72"

[IMAGE] The small Nieuport II biplane was affectionately known as the "Bebe" (baby). The Nieuport was originally designed for racing; this light plane was fast and extremely maneuverable and was the first combat airplane to carry the famed "Lafayette Escadrille" into battle. Official entry into battle: 6:00 AM April 20, 1916.

Originally formed as Nieuport-Duplex in 1902 for the manufacture of engine components (and for which it developed a good reputation), it was reformed in 1909 as the Societe Generale d'Aero-locomotion, and its products (including ignition components) were marketed to the aviation industry. 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 (where the lifting force pushed it down, as opposed to up as on the Bleriots - a much safer system) and an enclosed fuselage with the pilot fully protected from the elements.

In 1911, the company was reformed specifically to build aircraft (though it continued to build all of the other components including propellers) with the name Nieuport et Deplante. In 1911, 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 Etablissements Nieuport, and development of the existing designs was continued, though 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 (he stalled and spun in) in 1912, and 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 (no connection to the Delage automobile company) took over as chief designer, and major changes occurred immediately - including updates to the majority of the company's design lineup to bring them up to 1914 standards. He began work on a sesquiplane racer - a biplane whose lower wing was much narrower than its top wing and relied on a single wing spar instead of the usual two. This aircraft was not ready to fly until after World War I had begun but, as the Nieuport 10, the type saw extensive service with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Naval Air Service (R.N.A.S.) of the United Kingdom and with the French and Russian Flying Services. The performance of the Nieuport 10, and the more powerful Nieuport 12, was such that they were used as fighters. Nieuport developed an improved design specifically intended as a fighter - the Nieuport 11, which was regarded as the "baby" of the 10, which it closely resembled, except in size.

Until the end of 1917, most of the companies' aircraft would be successive developments of this one design, with bigger engines, longer wings, and more refined fuselages, until the line ended with the Nieuport 27. The "V-strut" Nieuports suffered from the inherent weakness of the sesquiplane wing form, and required careful piloting to avoid the risk of wing failures. By March/April 1917 the design was technically outclassed by the newer Albatros D.III, and was already in the process of replacement in the French Air Service with the SPAD S.VII. Most of the later Nieuport single seaters were employed as advanced trainers rather than operational fighters, although a few pilots, notably Albert Ball and Charles Nungesser preferred the Nieuport.

The next design, the Nieuport 28 was the first Nieuport type with two spars to both upper and lower wings, although the basic structure remained very lightly built. The French had already chosen the SPAD S.XIII to replace the SPAD S.VII by the time production examples of the Nieuport 28 were available, and it seemed destined to a career as a trainer. Due to a shortage of SPAD S.XIIIs, the first fighter squadrons of the United States Army Air Service (USAAS), used the Nieuport 28 on operations. During its short time in operational service with the USAAS, the Nieuport 28 became the first fighter used on operations by a U.S. Squadron.

By the end of 1918, Nieuport had two new fighter types flying, the Nieuport 29 and the Nieuport 31. The 29 differed from earlier Nieuports in having a streamlined wooden monocoque fuselage, a 300 hp (220 kW) Hispano-Suiza engine, and a strongly-braced two bay biplane wing. The 31 was a monoplane that had evolved from the same fuselage as the 28. Specially modified Nieuport 29 and 31 aircraft set speed and height records, and the 31 was the first aircraft to exceed 200 mph (320 km/h) in level flight (in the hands of Joseph Sadi-Lecointe).

At this time, Nieuport became Nieuport-Astra, with the absorption of Astra, a company known for aerial balloons, though this name would not be used for long, before becoming Nieuport-Delage, in honour of the work of the chief designer, Gustave Delage, and because he was running the company. Also at this time, Tellier (who built seaplanes) was also absorbed. Delage continued to develop this basic design as the Nieuport-Delage NiD.42/52/62/72, which would see service during the Spanish Civil War, although by that time it was obsolete and was retired before the end of the conflict. Despite this, several French second-line escadrilles were equipped with them during the invasion of France. Other types were developed, the majority of which were one-offs or did not result in significant development.

In 1932, as a result of the forced amalgamations taking place in the French aviation industry, Delage retired and Nieuport-Delage reverted back to Nieuport, albeit only briefly before becoming Loire-Nieuport, then disappearing completely into SNCAO. Without a skilled chief designer, the company was unable to produce any memorable aircraft and had pretty much disappeared before World War II. SNCAO would eventually be merged into the massive conglomerate known as AĆ©rospatiale; however, the companies' records were destroyed during World War II, when they were burned to prevent their falling into German hands. This step didn't prevent the Germans from charging several employees with espionage, as the last aircraft to carry the Nieuport name looked remarkably like a Junkers 87 -- albeit as a single-seater with retractable gear.

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