Carousel 1 CAR6142 Nieuport 11 "Bebe" Fighter - Tenente Franceso Baracca, Battaglione Aviatori d'Italia, Udine, November 1916 (1:48 Scale)
"When you march into France, let the last man on the right brush the Channel with his sleeve."
General Alfred von Schlieffen, referring to the Schlieffen Plan just prior to his death in 1913
The Nieuport 11 was designed in response to the Fokker Scourge of 1915. Anthony Fokker's Eindecker aircraft were handing air superiority to the Central Powers, making Allied aerial observation very difficult.
Gustave Delage's answer to the Fokker menace was a scaled down version of the Nieuport 10 fighter. This small, lightly loaded sesquiplane (in fact, pilots called it Bebe) was not only faster than the Eindeckers, it could literally fly circles around the German design.
The designation "sesquiplane" meant that the lower wing was half the area of the upper wing, and despite the "Vee-strut" stabilizing, tended to twist and bend under very high stress. The airplane was controlled by ailerons, compared to the Fokker's obsolete wing-warping technology.
The Fokker Eindecker's main advantage in combat was that the armament was synchronized to fire through the aircraft's propeller. While at the time, the Allies did not possess a similar gun system, the Nie 11's biplane design meant that a Lewis or Hotchkiss machine gun could be mounted on the top wing to fire over the propeller, achieving similar results.
The plane was utilized in World War I. It reached the French front in January 1916, and 90 were in service within the month. Nieuport 11's were supplied to the Aviation Militaire, the Royal Naval Air Service, the Dutch air service, Belgian, Russia and Italy. (More than 450 were license produced by Italian companies.) Some Nie 11's were modified to fire rockets from the struts.
Pictured here is a French-built Nieuport 11 Bebe that was piloted by Tenente Franceso Baracca of the Battaglione Aviatori d'Italia (Italian Aviation), over Udine in November 1916. Sold Out!
Release Date: August 2006
Historical Account: The Italian Army created an Aeronautical Section for balloon operations in 1884 and purchased its first aircraft in 1910. The following year, Italy became the first country in the world to use aircraft to perform military operations, when it carried out aerial reconnaissance and bombed soldiers during the Italo-Turkish War (1911-12).
At the outbreak of the First World War, the Italian Army had very few aircraft. Most of these were fairly old French aircraft such as the Farman MF-II and Morane-Saulnier. The situation improved in 1915 with the formation of the Corpo Aeronautico Militare (CAM) and by March of that year it had 58 aircraft and 91 pilots.
Although the CAM relied heavily on French fighter aircraft, the Italians did produce the impressive Caproni CA heavy bomber. In March 1916, the CAM had 7 bomber squadrons, 10 reconnaissance squadrons and five fighter units equipped with the Nieuport II.
By 1916, the Corpo Aeronautico Militare began to have considerable success against the Austro-Hungarian Air Service. The CAM's leading war ace was Francesco Baracca with 34 combat victories. Other successful pilots were Silvio Scaroni (26), Pier Piccio (25), Flavio Baracchini (21) and Fulco di Calabria (20).
At the Battle of Piave in June 1918, the CAM fielded 221 fighters, 56 bombers and 276 other frontline aircraft. With the support of the Royal Air Force, the CAM shot down 107 enemy aircraft and 7 balloons in 10 days, emphasizing its superiority over the Austro-Hungarian Air Service.
In 1918, the CAM began using the Italian built Pomilio PE. Over 100 of these took part in the battle of Vittorio Veneto and played an important role in the victory over the Austro-Hungarian Army and helped to bring the war to an end the following month.