Nieuport 17

  • A fighter sesquiplane (biplane with wings of different size) widely used by Allied forces during the First World War
  • Favoured by many Canadian flying aces, including Billy Bishop and Arthur Roy Brown
  • Direct descendant of the Nieuport 12
First World War (1914-1918)
First Flight
early 1916
Display Status
On loan to the Canadian War Museum

Background History

The Nieuport 17 was one of the classic fighters of First World War. It reached the French front in March 1916, and was adopted by the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service because of its superiority to any British-designed aircraft then in service. Nieuport 17s also served with the Dutch, Belgian, Russian, and Italian air forces. Italy built 150 under licence, and Germany was so impressed it asked manufacturers to use some of its features. Six RFC squadrons and eight RNAS squadrons used the Nieuport 17.

Even though its lower wing could twist off in high speed dives, the Nieuport became the favourite of the leading allied air aces. The Canadian ace, W.A. “Billy” Bishop, was awarded the Victoria Cross while flying a Nieuport 17.

Museum Example

Registration #
B1566 (RFC)
Home-Built (Carl Swanson), United States
Manufacture Date
Construction #
Acquisition Date
Museum Catalogue #

This Nieuport 17 was built by American amateur airplane-maker Carl R. Swanson in 1961, as a flying replica. A generous donor purchased the aircraft for the Museum in 1963. It was refinished to match the airplane in which the famous Canadian ace William Avery "Billy" Bishop earned the Victoria Cross.

Wing Commander Paul A. Hartman took the aircraft on its first flight in May 1967, at Rockcliffe airport. It was flown in several air shows across Canada, including a flight demonstration during the visit of HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, in April 1975. Unfortunately, it crashed at the Abbotsford International Air Show in 1989. The Museum's skilled restoration team rebuilt the aircraft to its current state.

Technical Specifications


Wing Span 8 m (26 ft 9 1/4 in)
Length 5.8 m (19 ft)
Height 2.4 m (7 ft 10 1/2 in)
Weight, Empty 375 kg (827 lb)
Weight, Gross 560 kg (1,235 lb)
Cruising Speed Unknown
Max Speed 165 km/h (102 mph)
Rate of Climb 2,000 m (6,560 ft) / 6 min 50 sec
Service Ceiling 5,300 m (17,390 ft)
Range 249 km (155 mi)
Power Plant one Le Rhone 9Jb, 110 hp, rotary engine