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For the purists: The French Roundel marking on the bottom of the upper, left wing is not a marking at all. It is the reflection in the sunlight of the roundel on the top surface of the wing shining through the semi- translucent fabric covering.This was the machine the first American fighter aces flew in the Lafayette Escadrille - the Nieuport 11. "Bebe," French meaning baby. As a pilot, this would have been a nightmare to fly. There was no provision for trimming the pressures and forces on the control stick and the rudder bar. In this extremely light airframe, the 250 lb whirling rotary engine would have constantly caused the aircraft to yaw and roll left and, unchecked manually, over onto its back. After two hours flying this machine the pilot was probably completely exhausted, physically and mentally. The 90 mph propwash would have constantly shoved the pilot back in his seat straining him and would have soaked him in castor oil and soot from the exhaust. Nasty things to handle and fly, much less to shoot from, no inherent stability. Turn the stick loose and the thing would roll out of control and spiral downward and augur in of its own accord. Worse, the chemicals in the fabric covering were an extreme fire hazard, making it a potential flying torch.
April 15th, 2013
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