For immediate release
9 April 1999
Ottawa—On Thursday, April 15, at 6:30, the National Aviation Museum will hold an unveiling ceremony for the Nieuport 12 aircraft in the First World War area of the Museum to mark the first occasion of its public display since the completion of its total restoration. Both the French Ambassador and Canada’s National Archivist are expected to say a few words at the ceremony on behalf of their respective organizations to recognize this important aircraft.
A gift from the French government, this aircraft is one of only two Nieuport 12 aircraft known to exist worldwide and was the first aircraft collected for posterity by the Government of Canada. Delivered to Halifax by steamship in February 1917, it was exhibited in a number of North American cities to raise funds for War Bonds or the Red Cross. Although its French service history is unknown, it has been restored by Museum staff as it appeared during its exhibition tour.
Early in the First World War, the Société anonyme des Établissements Nieuport initiated a wing configuration that characterized almost all of the company’s wartime biplanes. Known as sesquiplanes, these aircraft featured a short and narrow lower wing that had less than half the area of the upper wing. This wing layout improved the observer’s downward view and thus configured, the Nieuport 12’s intended role was reconnaissance. With a crew of two, its rear-mounted gun gave it a defensive capability if challenged by enemy fighters. It was utilized by France’s Aeronautique Militaire as an escort to its heavier bombing aircraft during the mid-war period, and by the air services of a number of other countries, including Great Britain’s Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps.
Nieuport 12 aircraft in British service were armed with one or two machine guns located in the rear observer’s cockpit on an Etevé rotating mount. The type proved unpopular with its crews because of its inferior performance, excessive vibration and difficult landing characteristics. Removed from front line service by the spring of 1917, some soldiered on for a few more months as training aircraft. The National Aviation Museum, Canada’s premier aeronautical collection deals with the complete sweep of Canada’s impressive aviation heritage. Visitors are invited to follow these adventures through the Walkway of Time that begins at the pioneer era and continues to the modern age. The Museum is located at the intersection of the Rockcliffe and Aviation Parkways. Daily hours after May 1 are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and 10 a.m. till 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Admission is $5 for adults; $4 for students and seniors; and $1,75 for children 6-15; free for children under six. A family pass is $10. Free on Thursdays after 5 p.m. Free parking. OC Transpo bus 198 also goes to the Museum.
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