In 1920, the Nieuport-Delage Ni-D 29 was the fastest airplane in the world. Designed by the Nieuport firm for the French Aviation Militaire in 1918, the Ni-D 29 appeared too late for combat in WWI. Following its record-breaking performance in the 1920 Gordon Bennett Trophy race, when it flew 168 miles per hour, it was adopted by several air forces: France, Sweden, Japan, Spain, and Belgium. Overall 1180 were manufactured, just over half of those license-built in Japan, designated as the Ko-4.
[ad#ad-1]The Ni-D 29 was a single-seat biplane fighter, with equal-span wings, ailerons on upper and lower. Typical for aircraft of the time, it had a fixed tailskid landing gear, and an open cockpit. Powered by a Hispano-Suiza 8Fb V-8 engine (a switch from Nieuport’s previous use of rotary engines), the Type 29 prototype did well in its August 1918 flight tests, but could not reach a high enough altitude. Later prototypes and the production version had larger wings and ailerons on the lower wings only. Interestingly, the racing version, of which three were built, had its wings trimmed, only being two-thirds as long as the standard military production types; racers did not need to fly high but they did need to fly fast.
In the 1920s, the Nieuport-Delage was an important part of many European air forces: France bought 250 made by Nieuport and licencees; Belgium had 108 – mostly license-built; Italy 175 – mostly by Macchi and Caproni; Spain had 30; and Sweden 9. Nakajima bought a pattern aircraft and built 608 for the Imperial Japanese Army as the Ko-4.
In 1925 the Swedish Army Aviation Command found Nieuport-Delage 29 C-1 fighters available at a very good price. Swedend had decided to create a separate Air Force in 1926, but there was little budget for new aircraft. The Chief of the Army Aviation Company, K A B Amundson, simply bought ten Nieuports on credit without any authorization. The aircraft were eventually paid; Amundson took took a lot of heat, but the affair blew over because of the good price. The Nieuport 29 C-1, designated “J2,” became very popular among the Swedish pilots. With excellent flying characteristics and fast speed,it alsog could reach an altitude of 8,500 meters. But since the fuselage was built of wood and plywood, they fared poorly in the cold, moist Scandinavian weather, and has rather short life spans as a result.
Both French and Spanish forces used NI-D 29’s in their Moroccan campaigns during the Twenties.
Top Speed: 147 m.p.h.
Engine: 300 h.p. Hispano-Suiza 8-cylinder inline V
Wingspan: 32 feet 1 inches
Weight: 2,420 lb.
Armament: 2 machine guns