The Nieuport II was an highly popular aircraft during early stages of the war. In 1916 Gustave Delagedesigned and improved version of the aircraft, the Nieuport 17. This new aircraft had a more powerful engine and a Vickers machine-gun synchronized to shoot through the propeller disk.
After making its debt in March 1916, this new machine gradually replaced the Nieuport II as France's main fighter aircraft. British pilots also liked the aircraft and by the spring of 1917 five Royal Flying Corps squadrons had the Nieuport 17. It became the favourite aircraft of several Flying Aces including Albert Ball, Billy Bishop, Georges Guynemer and Rene Fonck.
The Nieuport 17 was used at the Battle of the Somme and managed to cope well with the German aircraft, Fokker E , Halberstadt D-II and the Albatros D-II. It remained the Allies best fighter planes until the arrival of the Sopwith Camel in 1917.
© John Simkin, May 2013