The Nieuport 16 was a version of the Nieuport 11 'Bébé' that was powered by an 110hp Le Rhône engine instead of the 80hp engine of the original aircraft.
The Nieuport 16 had the same wing structure as the Nieuport 11. The upper wing was twice the size of the lower wing, but both were slightly swept back, with straight edges and straight ends. The lower wing was mounted below the rear half of the upper wing and they were connected by 'V' struts. The Nieuport 16 had the normal balanced rudder and angular horizontal tail of the early Nieuport scouts.
The more powerful engine was also heavier, and thus increased the wing loading of the aircraft (from 7.4lb/ sq ft to 8.46 lb/sq ft). This made it harder to handle and thus less popular with its pilots than the Nieuport 11.
The standard armament of the Nieuport 16 was a single Lewis gun mounted above the upper wing. In RFC service this gun was carried on a Foster mounting that allowed the gun to swing down to be reloaded, unjammed or fire upwards. French aircraft used other forms of mount. The type was also sometimes seen with two Lewis guns, or with a synchronised Vickers gun mounted on the engine cowling, using Alkan gear.
The Nieuport 16 could be armed with Le Prieur rockets. These were mounted on the wing struts, aiming upwards, and were electrically fired. They were for use against balloons and look like over-sized fireworks.
The Nieuport 16 entered service in the spring of 1916 and was used by the British, French and Belgian air services, where it slowly replaced the Nieuport 10 and Nieuport 11.
The French ace Georges Guynemer begins to earn his reputation on the type.
It was also used some pilots in the Escadrille Lafayette, the American volunteer squadron in the French air service.
The Nieuport 16 was the first Nieuport single-seater to be used by the RFC. It was ordered by the RNAS, but fourteen aircraft were then passed to the RFC (between March and June 1916). They were followed by at least nine more Nieuport 16s ordered directly by the RFC (total certainty isn't possible as the RFC tended to record all of these aircraft as Nieuport Scouts or by wing area, with both the Type 11 and Type 16 being recorded as the 13 metre Nieuport and the Type 17 as the 15 metre Nieuport). The Nieuport 16 was one of the earlier aircraft used by the ace Albert Ball, who first flew it on 15 May 1915, and achieved a number of victories while flying the type.
The type was used on the Western Front by No.1 Squadron between March and August 1916, at the start of a period in which it used six different types of Nieuport scouts. No.3 Squadron had it during the second half of 1916. No.11 Squadron used it alongside a number of other types in the summer of 1916. No.29 Squadron used it for a month early in 1917 before replacing it with later Nieuport types. No.60 Squadron used it from August 1916 to April 1917, again alongside other types (including the Nieuport 17).
The Nieuport 16 was used by the Belgian Aviation Militaire Belge and by the Imperial Russian Air Service (it was licence built in Russian by Dux).
The Nieuport 16 had a short front-line career, and was quickly replaced by the superior Nieuport 17, which had larger wings, reducing wing loading and restoring the lost manoeuvrability of the Type 16.
Engine: Le Rhône Rotary
Span: 24ft 8in
Length: 18ft 6in
Height: 7ft 10.5in
Empty weight: 827lb
Maximum take-off weight: 1,213lb
Max speed: 103mph at sea level
Climb Rate: 5m 50s to 6,560ft
Service ceiling: 15,744ft
Endurance: 2 hours