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Artifact Friday: The Bebe

Happy Friday y’all!

Today we are posting about our 80% scale flying model of a World War One aircraft the Nieuport II!

The first Nieuport aircraft were designed in 1914 by Gustave Delage.

His design was so successful that it was continuously produced and upgraded during the Great War.

The “Bebe” or Nieuport II followed the Nieuport 10 and became easily identifiable by the striking contrast between the sizes of the upper and lower wings.

This biplane has a larger, swept upper wing attached to the lower wing by the wooden “V” struts. This helps with the speed and maneuverability of the plane.

The Nieuport 11 entered service in 1916, helping to end the dominance of Germany’s high-powered Fokker aircraft. Despite the success of the former Nieuport designs, the “Bebe” not only challenged the German’s Fokker planes, but it outclassed them in speed, climb, and maneuverability. The only weakness of the Nieuport was that it was armed with only the

open-bolt Lewis machine gun which was a hard match against Germany’s synchronized aircraft machine guns.

Nieuport II earned a name in the Battle of Verdun in 1916. The number of Nieuports present at the battle combined with their top-notch aerodynamics gave the French air superiority forcing Germany to go back to the drawing board for air tactics and even change their own aircraft designs.

Because of their popularity, Nieuport IIs were not only flown by France, but also by Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, England, and even Russia.

The “Bebe” was replaced after the Battle of Verdun by the Nieuport 16 and Nieuport 17.

Only a few survived the war and even fewer were built as replicas and placed in museums. We are very lucky to have our own replica hanging on the North end of our White Hangar! Next time you are here be looking for the infamous “Bebe” that changed the air war for the Allies.

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