Trains, Boats & Planes | 1 April 2016Fighting Cockpits WWI: Nieuport 28 Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Air forces are essential to any army. Even in the first World War, when technologies were just beginning to revolutionize the power of an army through the use of fighter planes, these jets were vital. Take a look at the following model, called the Nieuport 28, one of the earliest manufactured and used in WWI, excerpted from Fighting Cockpits. NIEUPORT 28 Designed by Gustave Delage for the Société Anonyme des Établissements Nieuport, the small Nieuport 28 was a highly maneuverable rotary-engine fighter. Built to replace the successful Nieuport 17, it had a more powerful engine, twin Vickers machine guns (which were offset to the left and could fire through the propeller), and a new wing structure. For the first time a Nieuport fighter was fitted with conventional two-spar wings instead of the sesquiplane V-strut found in the Nieuport 11 and 17. Ailerons were fitted to the lower wings and several dihedral settings for the top wing were tested. Several prototypes were built and evaluated with different engines, including the 300-horsepower Hispano-Suiza 8Fb, the 170-horsepower Le Rhône 9R, the 275-horsepower Lorraine-Dietrich 8Bd, and the 200-horsepower Clerget 11E. Ultimately fitted with the rotary 190-horsepower Gnome Monosoupape 9N, the Nieuport had a top speed of 123 miles (198 kilometers) per hour, but like all rotary engines the 9N was notoriously thirsty and had limited operational life. Never considered a great fighter, the Nieuport 28 was rejected by the French Air Service in favor of the SPAD VII and XIII. When the United States entered World War I, it had no combat aircraft whatsoever. Though eager to acquire the SPAD VII and XIII, the Americans had to settle for the Nieuport 28 instead, purchasing 297 aircraft that were sent to the 94th and 95th Aero Squadrons in March 1918. Four more pursuit squadrons followed, along with the first air-to-air victories. On April 14, 1918, two pilots from the 94th each shot down an enemy aircraft over their own airfield at Gengoult. Future American aces began their careers flying the Nieuport 28, including twenty-six-victory ace Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker. Between April 29 and May 30, 1918, he shot down six enemy aircraft flying the Nieuport 28 before transitioning to the SPAD XIII. Unfortunately for the Americans, the Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine proved unreliable and caught fire easily. Structural problems emerged with the top wing as well. When pulling out of a sharp, speedy dive, the leading edge of the top wing would break away, taking most of the fabric with it. Another problem was the absence of a throttle. All rotary engines were controlled by means of a “blip” switch, which had two settings: flat out or stopped. First Lieutenant Louis Simon of the 147th Aero Squadron reported, “The Nieuport 28 has the rotary motor and is the hardest to fly in formation with because you can’t regulate your speed. In those with stationary motors, formation flying is much easier because of not having to ‘S’ so much.” By the end of August 1918, all four American squadrons were fully equipped with the more powerful and superior SPAD XIII. PILOT IMPRESSIONS – Andrew King, Aircraft Restorer I’ve been around World War I aircraft since I was ?ve years old. I learned to ?y before I could drive and the ?rst biplane I ?ew was the de Havilland Tiger Moth. Over the years I’ve ?own a variety of World War I aircraft: the Fokker Triplane, Fokker D.VII, Nieuport 17, Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter, and of course the Nieuport 28. Flying the Nieuport 28 is an awesome experience mostly due to the engine. It’s loud. The Monosoupape rotary is easily the loudest engine of World War I. As a low-speed engine, it doesn’t have an idle speed on the ignition selector. From idle to full power is extremely quick. On takeoff that’s a lot of horse-power and torque at the same time. It really pushes you back into your seat. Both the Nieuport 17 and 28 have some of the smallest World War I cockpits. I’m 6 feet 2 inches and about 220 pounds (188 centimeters and 100 kilograms), so the Nieuport 28 is pretty tight. As far as can I tell, the Nieuports came out of the factory with just a tachometer and pulsator glass. In the ?eld, pilots tended to add compasses, altimeters, clocks, and other things. It seems to be a nationality thing—both the French and the Germans didn’t seem to care much about instruments. Nieuport 28s of the 95th Aero Squadron ready for another patrol. The United States purchased 297 Nieuport 28s, and four squadrons ?ew them operationally from March to August 1918. National Museum of the USAFOPPOSITE PAGE: High-speed dives in the Nieuport 28 could rip the fabric from the upper wing. Here a young pilot from the 94th Aero Squadron poses in front of his heavily damaged 28. National Museum of the USAF The Nieuport cockpit was fairly well laid out with the throttle on the left side. It’s a simple environment with very few instruments. Interestingly, the British were far more into instruments and dashboards. The view from the Nieuport 28 isn’t too bad, but as a biplane the lower wing is always going to block out a good portion of your view. A lot of World War I ?ghters had the top wing located close to the fuselage in front of the pilot. That allowed the pilot to have a better view up and forward. The Nieuport 28 had dihedral in the top wing so the center section was lower than the wing tips. I don’t know why they did that but it does contribute to a better view. Most World War I airplanes ?y alike. For the majority, the ailerons don’t work very well and are fairly heavy. Generally speaking, the rudder and the elevators are, by modern standards, too big, sensitive, and powerful. The Nieuport 28 shares those characteristics. The ailerons are heavy, but they work okay. In combat it would’ve been a real workout to ?y and ?ght the Nieuport 28. It’s also tail heavy. I’m not sure if that’s on purpose, because the more tail heavy an airplane is, the more maneuverable it becomes. I like the Nieuport 28. The World War I pilots who ?ew it liked it as well. It was a formidable airplane. They had problems, of course, with the wing fabric and wing failures, but as far as performance and ?ying qualities, both American and French pilots thought highly of it. When it came time to trade in their Nieuports for the new SPAD, many pilots simply refused. Apart from the structural failures in the upper wing, I think they would have built a lot more Nieuport 28s and used them more extensively. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Climb inside the cockpits of the world’s most famous military aircraft from World War I, World War II to the present day!What was it like to sit in the pilot’s seat and take control of a P-51 Mustang in World War II? What about an F-14 Tomcat at the height of the Cold War? Or a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor today? The cockpits of these fighter and bomber aircraft are revealed in Fighting Cockpits. Showcasing more than 50 of the world’s most famous combat cockpits from early World War I aircraft to present-day fighters, this book includes more than 200 rich color photos from photographer Dan Patterson, as well as detailed history about combat cockpit development from aviation expert and historian Donald Nijboer. In the beginning of the twentieth century, aircraft had open cockpits. Pilots during World War I had to bundle up with fleece-lined leather coats, sheepskin thigh boots, and woolen underclothing to avoid freezing in the cold air four miles up. There was no heating, no oxygen for high flying, no retractable undercarriage, no engine starter, no radio links with air or ground, no brakes to help with landing, and no parachutes. The pilot was afforded merely left and right foot pedals to control the rudder and a single central control stick to cause the nose of the plane to pitch up or down. Since then, the cockpits of fighters and bombers have seen quite an evolution, and the chronology is represented in Fighting Cockpits. Presented in large-format volume, this book will complete any history buff or aviation enthusiast’s library. Aircraft includes… Wind in the Wires: Nieuport 28, Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5, Bristol F.2, Fokker Dr.I, Sopwith Camel, Sopwith Triplane, AEG G.IV, SPAD VII, Halberstadt CL.IV, Fokker D.VII The Rise of the Monoplane: Martin MB-2, Hawker Hind, Fiat CR.32, Boeing P-26 Peashooter, Curtiss F9C, Sparrowhawk, Vought SB2U Vindicator, Westland Lysander, PZL P.11 World War II: Supermarine Spitfire, Messerschmitt Bf 109, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, North American P-51 Mustang, Handley Page Halifax, Vickers Wellington, Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Wurger, Fairey Firefly, Fiat CR.42, Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik, Heinkel He 219 Uhu, Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu, Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, Northrop P-61 Black Widow, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Dornier Do 335 Pfeil, Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe, Arado Ar 234 Blitz Cold War to the Present: North American F-86 Sabre, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Grumman A-6 Intruder, General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, Hawker Siddeley Harrier, McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15 Eagle, Grumman F-14 Tomcat, Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, Mikoyan MiG-29, Rockwell B-1 Lancer, Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.