Nieuport 28

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Military History


World War I was the first major conflict involving the large use of aircraft. Airplanes were just coming into military use at the outset of the war. Initially, they were used mostly for reconnaissance. Pilots and engineers learned from experience, leading to the development of many specialized types, including fighters, bombers, and ground-attack airplanes.

Great Britain had formed the world's first air force to be independent of either army or naval control, the Royal Air Force. The American army and navy air services were far behind; even in 1917, when the United States entered the war, they were to be almost totally dependent on the French and British aircraft industries for combat aircraft.

By early in 1918, the SPAD S.XIII was established as the standard French fighter aircraft. The United States Army Air Service was desperately short of fighters to equip it's planned Pursuit (Fighter) Squadrons. The aircraft that they wanted to acquire was the SPAD S.XIII. The SPAD was initially unavailable due to an engine shortage. The Nieuport 28 was offered to the American Expeditionary Forces as an interim alternative.

The Nieuport 28 became the first ever fighter aircraft to enter service in a U.S. Fighter Squadron.

The first Nieuport 28s were delivered to the U.S. Army Air Service in mid February of 1918 without armaments. At the time, there were no Vickers machine guns available to supply the squadrons, so the aircraft were initially flown on unarmed training flights so pilots could familiarize themselves with the handling and performance of these aircraft. The squadrons began receiving deliveries of the guns in mid-March, and began outfitting their aircraft immediately.

On April 14, 1918, the second armed patrol of the 94th Aero Squadron resulted in two victories when Lieutenants Alan Winslow and Douglas Campbell (the first American trained ace) each downed an enemy aircraft over their own airfield at Gengoult. Thus, the 94th Aero Squadron was credited with the first official downing of an enemy aircraft!

Several well-known World War I American fighter pilots, including the 26 victory ace, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, began their operational careers on the Nieuport 28. Quentin Roosevelt (The son of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt) was shot down and killed flying one of these aircraft.

A total of 297 Nieuport 28's were purchased by the United States Army Air Service. Four American Expeditionary Forces Pursuit Squadrons, the 27th, 94th, 95th, and 147th Aero Squadrons, flew Nieuport 28's operationally for various periods between March and August of 1918.

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