The Nieuport 10 was designed as a two-seat biplane reconnaissance aircraft, but most were converted into single-seat fighters, making it the first in the long series of Nieuport fighters that served with the British, French, American, Italian and Russian air services during the First World War.
The Nieuport 10 was designed by Gustave Delage, who joined the Nieuport company in 1914. The Nieuport 10 was probably developed from the earlier Nieuport X monoplane, with the intention of entering the new biplane in the Gordon Bennett race of 1914. When Nieuport applied for a patent for the new aircraft in January 1915 it was as the Nieuport XB, b standing for biplane.
The Nieuport 10 adopted a layout that was the basis of a series of Nieuport fighters that ended with the Nieuport 27. It was a sesquiplane, with a larger two-strut upper wing and a lower wing of almost the same length but with the chord reduced by half, giving it half the area of the upper wing. According to the patent the single spar lower wing was meant to be adjustable, rotating at the root, but that feature wasn't used on production machines. The fittings for it were used, and played a part the weakness associated with the lower wing. Both upper and lower wing were slightly tapered and had straight ends. The aircraft used aileron control, with the ailerons fitted to the upper wings.
The fuselage had a rectangular cross-section, with a flat top and curved base. The Nieuport 10 had a balanced rudder with no fixed fin and angular horizontal tail surfaces. It used the standard wooden framework and fabric covering construction of the day.
The Nieuport 10 was produced in two versions - the 10AV (avant) with the observer/ gunner in the front seat and the 10AR (arrière), with the observer/ gunner in the rear seat.
In service the Nieuport 10 proved to be underpowered for a two-man aircraft (using an 80hp Gnome or Le Rhône engine), and many were converted into single-seat fighters. These aircraft carried a single machine gun mounted on top of the upper wing and firing over the propeller disc.
The two-seat aircraft carried a number of different arrangements of guns. Early aircraft, with the observer in the front seat, carried a gun on the upper wing, with a hole cut in the wing just behind it. The observer had to stand up and fire the gun through this hole.
The first order for the Nieuport 10 was placed by the British RNAS, which ordered 24 aircraft. These were delivered in May-August 1915. This was followed by larger orders for the French Aviation Militaire. It entered service with both organisations in May 1915. The RNAS placed a larger second order, but most of these aircraft were delivered as the Nieuport 11 instead.
The Nieuport 10 was also produced under licence in Italy (by Nieuport-Macchi) and in Russia (by Dux and Lebedev). The first Italian aircraft entered service in August 1915, and eventually Macchi built 240 Nieuport 10s. The first Russian aircraft entered combat late in 1915. Some of the Russian aircraft used more powerful 100-120hp engines, with the local designation of Nieuport 10bis.
The first RNAS squadron to receive the Nieuport 10 was No.1 Aeroplane Squadron, which was using it by the end of May 1915. It also served at St.Pol, Dover and Eastchurch. The RNAS used the type as a fighter and a reconnaissance aircraft. The RNAS also used the Nieuport 10 in the Aegean. It served with No.2 Wing, RNAS at Mudro and No.3 Wing at Tenedos.
Later in the war No.45 Squadron, RFC, was reported to have used the Nieuport 10 and Nieuport 12 on the Western Front from April-May 1917, to fill a gap in aircraft availability.
The French used the type on the Western Front. On 20 September nine Morane-Saulnier escadrilles changed their designation to Nieuport escadrilles, while other units also had a number of Nieuport aircraft on their books.
The Nieuport 10 was eventually replaced by the larger, more powerful Nieuport 12. Surviving Type 10s then became training aircraft. Some of the Le Rhône powered aircraft were given extra wing struts and a four-wheel landing gear and became known as the Nieuport 80E.2, Nieuport 81D.2 and Nieuport 83E.2 (based on the 80hp engine).
The Nieuport 10 was also the basis of the Nieuport 11, which was produced from the start as a single seat fighter, and that was smaller, lighter and faster than the Type 10. The Nieuport 11 was one of the most important Allied fighters of 1916, and was followed by a family of successful fighter aircraft.
Engine: Gnome or Le Rhône
Crew: 2 (sometimes reduced to 1)
Span: 25ft 11in
Length: 22ft 11.5in
Height: 8ft 10.25in
Empty weight: 904lb (single-seat)
Maximum take-off weight: 1, 455lb (single-seat)
Max speed: 91mph at sea level (single-seat)
Climb Rate: 16min 30sec to 6,560ft (single-seat)