Aircraft of the Aces No. 33 - Nieuport Aces of World War I

Aircraft of the Aces No. 33 - Nieuport Aces of World War I

Aircraft of the Aces No. 33 - Nieuport Aces of World War I, by Norman Franks, Osprey Publishing (U.K.), 2000; 96 pp., 9-3/4" x 7-1/4", softcover, profusely illustrated with photos, line drawings and color profiles, appendices; ISBN 1-85532-961-1; $18.95; available from Motorbooks International, P.O. Box 1, Osceola, WI 54020 (publisher's Fax: 1-800-826-6600).

Just to qualify the viewpoint (or prejudice) at the outset, the reviewer confesses to a decades-long admiration of the elegant, bird-like Nieuport sesquiplane fighter. Consequently, a new book devoted to Nieuports--as flown by American, Belgian, British, French, Italian and Russian pilots--elicits more than casual interest. Insatiable eyes devour the many black and white photos, and become nit-picky by wishing that some of the informal snapshots had been taken with better cameras. But that wish is more than adequately equalized by Harry Dempsey's exquisite color side views of 41 different aircraft (including one on the outside back cover), as well as by Mark Styling's fine 1/72nd-scale black and white scale drawings of major Nieuport fighters except the famed "28," which is included among the color views, each described in a separate caption to note points of interest and details.

Franks' lucid text puts the Nieuport series into the perspective of the times in which it served and the tactics with which it was deployed, from the Nieuport 11 Bébé, with its single forward-firing machine-gun mounted on the top wing to clear the propeller arc, to the Nieuport 28, with its two machine-guns synchronized to fire through the propeller arc without damaging the prop blades.

Following an introductory chapter, the book is segmented alphabetically by nationality--British, French and Other Allied Aces--to recount the combat history of the Nieuport types. RFC/RNAS operations are broken down by squadron, but, curiously, other nationalities' units are lumped together. Similar segmentation, even within the recognized boundaries of the 'Aircraft of the Aces' series 96-page format, would have added to the volumes already considerable research value.

Greatly to be appreciated are interesting asides that give this treatment of a popular subject a special relevance, such as the note about Escadrille N.76 ace René Doumers father: "Assassinated in Paris in 1932, Paul Doumer was honoured by the naming of a bridge in Hanoi in his memory. A future generation of American flyers would attack this bridge on numerous occasions during the Vietnam War."

'Nieuport Aces of World War I' is a good book and recommended.

submitted by Peter Kilduff