Nieuport XI

The Nieuport 11, nicknamed the Bébé, was a French World War I single seat fighter aircraft, designed by Gustave Delage. It is famous as one of the aircraft that ended the 'Fokker Scourge' in 1916.

The type saw service with several of France's allies, and gave rise to the series of "vee-strut" Nieuport fighters that remained in service (latterly as trainers) for the rest of the war.

Nieuport XI
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Nieuport
Origin France
Country Name Origin Year
France 1915
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Belgium View
France 1916 1918 View
Italy View
Netherlands View
Romania View
Russia (USSR) View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Nieuport 565 View

The Nieuport 11 was basically a smaller, simplified version of the Nieuport 10 - designed specifically as a single-seat fighter. Like the "10" the "11" was a sesquiplane, a biplane with a full-sized top wing with two spars, and a lower wing of much narrower chord. Interplane struts in the form of a "Vee" joined the single spar lower wing to the broader, twin-spar structure upper wing on each side. While the sesquiplane layout offers reduced drag and a higher rate of climb, as well as improved view from the cockpit, the narrow lower wing tends to flutter and twist under stress, especially at high air speeds. This was a problem with the "vee-strut" Nieuports, as well as the German Albatros D.III and V, which adopted a generally similar wing design.

Nieuport 11s were supplied to the Aéronautique Militaire, the Royal Naval Air Service, Belgium, Russia and Italy. 646 were produced by the Italian Macchi company under licence.

Nieuport 16

In 1916 an improved version appeared as the Nieuport 16 which was a strengthened Nieuport 11 airframe powered by a 110 hp (92 kW) Le Rhône 9J rotary engine. Visible differences included a larger aperture in front of the "horse shoe" cowling and a headrest for the pilot. Later versions had a fuselage-mounted synchronized Vickers gun, but in this configuration the combined effect of the heavier 9J engine and the Vickers gun compromised maneuverability and made the craft nose-heavy. The next variant, the slightly larger Nieuport 17 C.1, was designed for the heavier engine and machine gun with a new, full-perimeter ring cowl, and remedied the 16's c.g. problems, as well as improving performance.


Nieuport 11 :  Single-seat fighter-scout biplane. The type was also known as the Nieuport Scout and Nieuport Bebe.

Nieuport 16 :  Improved version. Single-seat fighter-scout biplane, powered by a 110 hp (92 kW) Le Rhone 9J rotary piston engine. 

The Nieuport 11 reached the French front in January 1916, and 90 were in service within the month.

This small, lightly loaded sesquiplane outclassed the Fokker Eindecker in every respect. Among other features it had ailerons for lateral control rather than wing warping - and its elevator was attached to a conventional tail plane as opposed to the all-moving, balanced "Morane type" stabilators of the Fokker, both features that made it much easier to fly accurately. The Fokker's success was due to its synchronized machine gun which fired forward through the arc of its propeller. At the time, the Allies lacked a similar system, and the Nieuport 11's Lewis machine gun was mounted to fire over the propeller, achieving similar results — it was not synchronizable, due to its open bolt firing cycle design. Clearing gun jams and replacing ammunition drums in flight were challenging, and the drums limited ammunition supply. This was eventually resolved in French service by the application of the Alkan synchronization gear to Nieuport fighters from the Nieuport 17 on. The British, in the absence of a really satisfactory synchronizer, retained the overwing Lewis, by now mounted on the improved Foster mounting, and employing the new "double" Lewis drum with a capacity of 98 rounds.

During the course of the Battle of Verdun in February 1916, the Nieuport 11 re-established French air superiority, forcing a radical change in German tactics.

Some Nieuport 11s and 16s were modified in service to fire Le Prieur rockets from the struts. These weapons were intended for attacks on observation balloons and airships.

By March 1916 the Bébé was being replaced by the improved Nieuport 17, although Italian-built examples remained in first line service rather longer. Thereafter the Nieuport single seat types continued to be widely used as trainers.

Role Fighter
Manufacturer Nieuport
Designer Gustave Delage
Introduction 5 January 1916
Retired Summer of 1917
Status Used as a trainer until the end of the First World War[1]
Primary user Aéronautique Militaire
Variants Nieuport 17, 24bis., 27

General characteristics

  • Crew: one, pilot
  • Length: 5.8 m (19 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 7.55 m (24 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 2.4 m (7 ft 10.5 in)
  • Wing area: 13 m (140 ft)
  • Empty weight: 344 kg (759 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 480 kg (1,058 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 550 kg (1,213 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 x Gnome or Le Rhone 9C air-cooled rotary, 59.6 kW (80 hp)


  • Maximum speed: 156 km/h (97 mph)
  • Range: 330 km (205 miles)
  • Service ceiling 4,600 m (15,090 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 15 mins to 3,000 m (9,840 ft)
  • Power/mass: 1.49 kW/kg (0.09 hp/lb)


  • 1 x Hotchkiss or Lewis machine gun

End notes