A Nieuport 17 as flown by Charles Nungesser of the French L’Armee de l"Air. This aircraft was one of the most famous fighter planes in WWI. They were a marked improvement over their predecessor, the Nie. 11 Bébé. The "Superbébé" first appeared with the French on the front in May, 1916, about the same time the British introduced the D.H. 2. The two aircraft put an end to German domination of the skies in 1916. Following their fine showing during the Battle of the Somme, many other units, British included, started to use the Nie. 17. Many aces flew these aircraft, including: René Fonck, Georges Guynemer, Charles Nungesser, Albert Ball and Billy Bishop. It had fine flying characteristics and influenced the design of many other aircraft, the German Siemens-Schukert D3 was a direct copy of it, except for the tailplane.
The Nie. 17 was a direct development from the Nie. 11. It had a more powerful engine, larger wings and a stiffening of the entire structure. It first had the 110 hp Le Rhone 9J rotary engine, and then was upgraded to the 130 hp Clerget 9B. The Ni. 17 combined outstanding maneuverability with good speed forward and climbing. Its major defect was the lack of rigidity in the lower wing under heavy loads. The good manoueverability of the craft extended it’s useful service life past what it would normally have had.
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Image from: E. Parks, Fighters. The World’s Great Aces and Their Planes. Permission requested.