Aviation technology during World War 1 (1914-1918) moved at lightning speed as both sides attempted to gain the advantage in the skies over Europe. This led to many variants and all-new aircraft designs being fielded, some lasting just a few short months at they became quickly outclassed by enemy designs. The French-originated Nieuport line of fighters ended as a deep family tree made up of various fighting aircraft with origins in the Nieuport 10 of 1914. This product advanced through popular forms like the Nieuport 1 "Bebe" and the larger, more powerful two-seat Nieuport 12 model (both detailed elsewhere on this site). The Nieuport 16 (Nie 16) was an offshoot of the line, appearing in January of 1916, and brought with it a reinforced structure and a new engine fit. It went on to operate with the air services of France, Britain, Belgium (limited), Russia (locally-produced by Dux) and Italy during its brief time in the air.
At its core, the Nieuport 16 was the Nieuport 11 aircraft modified to accept a new, more powerful engine installation in the Le Rhone 9J rotary of 110 horsepower. However, in both form and function its appearance and battlefield role changed very little and, as such, it retained much of the capability of the earlier design. This led to an aircraft with a heavy frontal section and deteriorated handling characteristics due to high wing loading. Lacking synchronized gear, a single Lewis Gun machine gun was set over the upper wing element to help clear the spinning propeller blades and this kept the weapon awkwardly far from the pilot's reach in the event of an ammunition misfeed. The biplane wings, retained from the Nie 11, were of equal span and braced by V-struts.
The Nie 16 was introduced on January 5th, 1916 and operated in the fighter / bomber escort / balloon-busting role. In the latter, the V-struts supported four Le Prieur rockets to each wing for added firepower. Once available in number, the Nie 16 quickly superseded Nie 10 and Nie 11 fighters in circulation and some of the stock were eventually given Alkan synchronization gear so machine guns could be fitted to the fuselage and fired through the spinning propeller blades. Of course this also meant that even more weight was added to the frontal section of the aircraft which further worsened the "heavy nose" attitude already exhibited by the aircraft.
The Nieuport 16 was eventually superseded itself by the Nieuport 17 model (detailed elsewhere on this site) which offered improvements in both performance and handling - leaving the Nie 16 as nothing more than a stepping stone design on the road to a more viable fighter type.
In its finalized form, the Nie 16 showcased a maximum speed of 103 miles per hour.
- Close-Air Support (CAS)
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
18.54 ft (5.65 m)
24.67 ft (7.52 m)
7.87 ft (2.4 m)
827 lb (375 kg)
1,213 lb (550 kg)
103 mph (165 kph; 89 kts)
1 x 7.7mm Lewis Gun on upper wing assembly
1 x 7.7mm machine gun over nose synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades (Alkan interrupter gear fitted).
8 x Le Prieur aerial rockets fitted in two banks of four rockets at each V-strut.
Nie 16 - Base Series Designation