William W. Whitson


AIRCRAFT and PHOTOS

Nieuport 17

Nieuport 17
(Photographs reprinted by permission of the San Diego Air and Space Museum)

In August, 1916, when David Harrison first reached France to join 60 Squadron, the Nieuport 17 was the best French-built fighter at the Front. Armed with a single machine gun on top of the wing, it had a sea-level speed of 107 mph and a ceiling  of 17,400 feet.  It had a range of about two hours (200 miles) and a rate of climb of 650 feet per minute.

Among 1500 German aircraft  then at the Front, only four could compete with the Nieuport: the two-seat Albatros C.VII (65 in inventory) and the Roland C.II ("Whale"),  ( 257 available); and two single-seat fighters: the Albatros D.I (only two at the Front) and the Fokker D.III (only seven at the Front).  Until the Germans could manufacture more Albatros D-series fighters, which could outshoot and outmaneuver the Nieuport, the Nieuport was more nimble and could fly faster and higher than the other 1400 German aircraft, a third of which were the Albatros C.III. Armed with a crew of two, two machine guns (Parabellum and Spandau), the C.III had a ceiling of 11,000 feet and a top speed of only 87 mph. Like its counterpart, the B.E.2.c, named "The Quirk" in the Royal Flying Corps, the C.III was stable, reliable and a death trap.

 


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