by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
Aircraft designs in WWI often became obsolete quickly. The fast pace of aircraft design often led to some ideas and developments that became outmoded, which a year or two before had been considered as progressive and innovative. One such aircraft was the Nieuport 17. Later there appeared the Nieuport 17bis with a modified fuselage, and in the spring of 1917 the designer Gustav Delage developed the next new version of the fighter, the Nieuport 24. The fuselage gained a more rounded cross section in comparison with its predecessor and the wings were rounded at their tips. The horizontal and vertical tail surfaces were also very different from previous models, having a more rounded outline. A powerful 120-130-hp Le Rhône engine was installed in the plane.
However, in operational use it was quickly apparent that despite the aircraft's improved flight characteristics, the plane had significant problems in control, because of faults in the tail assembly. Although it was elegant, testing proved it to be too fragile. The designers were persuaded to give up the 'elegance' of the aircraft in favor of the old but time-proven and battle-tested tail design, the same as in the Nieuport 17. This machine could not be considered a brand new type, and so it was designated the Nieuport 24bis. This modification process took until the summer of 1917, and then when the 24bis started to arrive in the combat units,. . For the Nieuport 24bis a place was found mainly in training units, but many machines did appear at the front. The famous French ace Charles Nungesser flew a Nieuport 24bis in combat.
At this time the United States, which had just entered WWI, started organising their own Air Force from scratch, and they bought from the Allies all available types of aircraft to make up the complement of their air arm. France sold at least 140 Nieuport 24bis to the U.S., about a hundred Nieuport 24 with either the 80hp or 130hp Le Rhône. And almost three hundred of the Nieuport 27 with either the 80hp or 130hp Le Rhône. ( The Nieuport 27 was simply a Nieuport 24 with a split axle.) None of these several hundred planes saw combat, their fate until the end of the war limited to the training of future pilots and mounts for the instructors. After the war many Nieuports were sold to private owners, while all other machines were sent for scrap.
Apart from France and the U.S., the Nieuport 24, 24bis and 27 were used to a limited degree by the Royal Air Force of Great Britain. A small amount were sent to Russia where they survived the October Revolution of 1917, and appeared in the ranks of the White as well as the Red Army. Several machines were used by the Air Forces of Poland, Japan and Romania.
This kit has an excellent interior for this scale. The support ( 11 B) of the seat is helpful. There are some things that could be added, but “out of the box” it seems to be reasonably complete. This would be a good place to pre-drill all strut and rigging holes. This kit represents the armed fighter version
Step 1.) The cockpit components ( 7, 9, 17 A & 3, 11 B ) are attached to the lower wing ( 16 B ). You can manufacture a starter magneto, a hand pump to pressurize the fuel tank, fuel gauge, tachometer, oil pulsator, and finally a floor mounted compass. The kit does not provide a full Nieuport fitting for the mixture control support. It only has the portion of it closest to the pilot. “Tom's Modelworks” French Interior detailing parts in 1:72 scale. It has many fine and unusual details not seen any where else that come at a reasonable cost.
Step 2.) Builds the engine cowling ( 3 & 21 A ).Thin the cowling assembly lower rear edge of the cowling for a scale thickness.
Step 3.) Unites the floor boards ( 9 B ) and rudder bar ( 16 A ).
Step 4.) Is the rotary engine assembly. The "kit" engines come from a Camel kit sprue that Roden added. It was simply easier to add the sprue thant retool a new item. BUT the Engine they want you to use is the LeRhône. While the Clerget ( 30 K ) could be used for a Nieuport 17bis version. The Le Rhône is the 110 -120hp (11,15, 23 & 31 K ).
Step 5.) Add short "X" sections of fine wire to the sides of the fuselage halves (1 & 2 A ) to represent internal rigging. One you might add is a reel for the empty machine-gun belt. This is located on the port side of the nose ( 1 A ), just behind the inspection hatch, and between the side-wall and air mixture support bracket it will be visible.
Step 6.) The united fuselage halves (1 & 2 A ) are joined to the engine crank case assembly.(step 4 ) you could add a section of plastic to represent an oil tank. The spout will be adjacent to the top dead center of the fuselage joints on the cowling (3 & 21 A ). This crescent shaped tank will be attached directly to fuselage half between the inner lip for the cowling (3 & 21 A ) and the crank case assembly ( 11, 15 & 23 K ) on the firewall. Its length will be slightly less than 1/4 the circumference of the cowling ( 3 & 21 A ) with its ends squared off. Erase all seams in the fuselage joints. The tail surfaces are a direct indicator of the designated type. You will find it important to drill a small hole adding a section fine wire to the rudder ( 2 B ) and its joint surface at the stern post of the fuselage assembly.
The main components - Propeller, wings, fuselage and tail unit seem to be a little larger in area than the Windsock Datafile Special drawings. But these kit items do seem to measure out per original aircraft dimensions to the scale.
The Vickers .303 machine gun (9 K ) empty belt chute (11 A ) and ammo feed (12 A ) are added here. This means that #650 was designated as an armed trainer and used on the aerial gunnery range for air to ground target practicing.
Step 7.) Add the front cabane struts (15 A X 2 ). When thoroughly dry begin the rigging process. Fortunately the Nieuport fighters are a good first kit for attempts at rigging a WWI aircraft. Remember always to drill the smallest hole to anchor your rigging material. The more lines to anchor enlarge the hole. Wait until the anchored lines have dried thoroughly. Pass the other ends through their next hole and hold them tight by clipping a spring type clothes pin to the lines end. Touch the smallest drop of superglue (cyanoacrylate) to the area and again wait til dry. Only a sharp razor knife should be applied to the loose ends of the strands. I like to fill any remaining holes with resin dust, wood dust (when I cut my own laminated propellers) or even baking soda to holes with the glue drops already in them. This filler takes only a small amount and drys almost instantaneously with thin consistency superglue (cyanoacrylate.).
Step 8.) Lay the Axle ( 8 B ) in the crotch of the Landing Gear ( 4 B X 2 ) Vee’s. Next wrap upholstery thread around the front leg back to the rear leg and then forward again. Several rounds should do. This traps the axle and represents the bungee shock chords used on the original. I scratch built the horizontal stabilizer struts with metal rod. Complete any unfinished rigging at this time. I would add the propeller at this point. The French propellers were built up in the conventional way by laminations. For Nieuport & Spad fighters finishing included a solid uniform coat of red-brown shellac in most cases.
Nieuport 24c1bis, (s/n and pilot unknown), Escadrille N.97, Aviation Militare, 1917.
Nieuport 24bis, (serial and pilot unknown), Soviet Army, Slavnoe's Air Group, 13 Fighter Detachment, Priyamino airfield (now in Belorussia), May 1920.
Nieuport 24bis, no. N3263, School # 650, 3rd Aviation Instructional Center Issoudon, USAS, France, Oct. - Nov. 1917. It was also photographed at 2nd AIC. This means that #650 was designated as an armed trainer and used on the aerial gunnery range for air to ground target practicing.
“Billy Bones - An Accounting of the 31st Aero sqdn” by S.T. Lawson,Billy Cross & Cockade Intl. Vol. 37 #2 2006.
“Issoudon and the 3rd AIC AEF.”Cross & Cockade Intl. Vol. 37 #2 2006.
List of Aircraft Designations (French) submitted by P. Grosz, Cross & Cockade USA Vol.25, #2, Pp.112-115, 1984.
Nieuport Aces By N. Franks, Osprey, Aircraft of the Aces #33, 2000.
Nieuport Fighters of WWI by J.M.Bruce, Osprey, Vintage Warbirds #10, 1993.
Nieuport Fighters Vol 1 by R. Rimell, Albatros Pub. 1993.
Nieuport Fighters Vol 2 by R. Rimell, Albatros Pub. 1994.
Nieuport Vee Strutters by S. Nelsen, Cross & Cockade USA, Vol.7, #3,Pp.237-253. 1966.
Nieuport Vee Str. Errata & Addenda, Cross & Cockade USA Vol.12,#2, Pp.189-190. 1971.
Summary of American training at Issoudon: :
(From the Manuscript ‘Billy Bones - An Accounting of the 31st Aero Sqdn.) If you had found yourself in Issoudon, France at the Third Aviation Instruction Center (3rd A.I.C.) with the American Air Service as a pilot trainee in 1918, it would be a matter of course that you come to Field Five. Landings, Spirals and Acrobatics were the daily meat here. Considered to be the advanced training phase Field Five had a wicked reputation for being “the field of graves” to many “would-be knights of the air.” The price of training 3,111 men at Issoudon was $27,045,395.53 in 1918 alone. This created an average cost per man of $8,693.47. If the war had continued through 1919 the projected total cost of training was expected to rise to about $40,000,000.00. At the Third Aviation Instruction Center” there were assigned as cadre 1,165 officers and 4,860 enlisted men to keep the training schedules on target and aircraft flying for the operations of its eventual 14 airfields. training both pilots and observers.
At the headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces in Paris it was with typical military consideration that the Projects Department select the worst possible land for use as a training area under the most grievous weather conditions. The hardships of military life during war are compounded by the rear echelon types that make decisions from their comfortable offices. Farmland was set aside for the use of the American Air Service training. Almost over night barracks and hangars went up, roads were cut and graded and trucks traveled to disbursement points to pick up water, supplies, cadets and coffins in a daily routine. Much like a casual view of an ant farm, each and every movement of the hive was meant to prepare young men to face the duty of war in the air.
Each Field had its academic and operational specialties. Depending on when a student passed through the 3rd A.I.C. some classes were moved from one Field to another as it expanded and grew. Field One taught Taxing in clipped wing Morane Saulnier Parasol (Penguins) types. This was needed to teach the novice about controlling the machine on the ground first. Field Two taught Dual Control Operations on Nieuport 10 and 12 types (23 meter.) This involved the student being watched over by an instructor. If there was a problem the instructor could take over control of the machine. Field Three students flew Cross-Country flights. These flights were to teach the student how to recognize familiar terrain features and be able to orientate him self by using landmarks. Field Four familiarized students with the Nieuport 21 (18 meter types) and later on, the Nieuport 24 (15 meter types.) The types chosen for training purposes included Nieuport 21, 21 bis, 24 and 24 bis. Field Five as discussed earlier taught Full Power Landings, Spirals and Aerial Acrobatics. Most of these instructions were done on the ground with the student in the cockpit and the French instructors standing on a ladder beside the aircraft counting out the steps in a given maneuver , “Un. Deux, Trois, Quatre. Then the maneuver was attempted inflight. At Field Six students learned to Land an aircraft “Dead-stick” (motor power off.) Field Seven was used for Formation Flying. Field Eight was where the students were transitioned to newer and armed fighters like Spad, Sopwith, SE 5a and late Nieuport types. Students were given sealed orders and told to go up and hunt a fellow student, the“enemy” in a certain area with an aircraft that would be camera gun equipped.. Field Nine was developed to include a gunnery range, so when the French school at Cazaux was full students could carry on their training. Some veterans have said that they believed that the graves were at Field Thirteen. The fact appears that there were some graves at all of the operational fields. Fields 10 -14 handled Bomber and Observer’s operations training. Cadre and students are quoted as saying that “...there was a funeral at the 3rd A.I.C everyday but Monday and the day after it rained.”
More pilots and students were killed on the Nieuport 21 (18 meter) type than any other according to former Lt. Temple N. Joyce. Who not only graduated from the 3rd A.I.C. in Feb. 1918. but returned in mid 1918 to become its Chief Test Pilot and Accident Investigator. The Nieuport 21, “18 meter” (with 80 hp LeRhône rotary)was chosen to be the first trainer for the Americans. It was essentially a Nieuport 17 C.1 without armament. Since it wasn’t intended to carry any armament or ammunition it was not necessary to have a Nieuport 17 motor (110-120 hp LeRhône rotary) to attain a similar performance for students. The “bis” suffix was denoting a variation that might include altered wing, tail or fuselage surfaces. These variations were often incorporated in subsequent production types as standard features. The Nieuport 21 bis included a fully rounded or “faired” fuselage and the Clerget 110hp rotary. The Nieuport 24 had the similar layout but included alterations to wings ,15 meters in area, tail and a fuselage rounded out using stringers from cockpit to tail. The Nieuport 24 bis kept the altered fuselage and wings but reverted back to the Nieuport 17 and 21 vertical and horizontal tail surfaces. The Nieuport 27 bis was essentially a Nieuport 24 bis with a split axle like those found on Sopwith fighter aircraft. It has been noted that at least some of the instructors or Commander’s aircraft often kept the original/ higher horsepower motors 110 - 120 hp LeRhône, Clerget 9Z or 9B types. When a class of students finished their courses at Field Five, they were transferred to Field Seven. If the class at Field Seven is still finishing your class would have stand-by waiting at Field Five, Since there was very limited barrack space this could hold up the class that was due to come to Field Five. The old “Hurry up and wait game“at its finest. The only Field that never seemed to experience this concern was Field Thirteen. As stated earlier each of the existing ‘Fields’ seemed to have its share of graves by Summer 1918. I find no indication that after Field Thirteen was established that any existing graves were moved from the other Fields to be re-interned there.
In the end it was all erased. The land was returned to the farmers. The buildings and hangars torn down. The graves of the fallen instructors and students were moved to perpetual cemeteries. In 1962 a former Instructor at Issoudon, Mr. Keeling Pulliam of Field Four who’s various Nieuport fighters were painted like 1.American Eagle & 2. A carnivorous Flying Fish ( not the ship called ‘The Jazbo.’ ) said when he visited the original site he could find nothing to prove that there was ever a training center. That is until he ventured into a stand of trees where he found the stone pillar that had once served as part of the entrance to the Main Fields (One -Two & Three.) These were located at the hub of the Third Aviation Instruction Center’s operations in 1918.
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