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WW1 French Nieuport 17 Fighter Plane Original Illustration Art by Jerome Biederman
Item #: VF4118
Click on an image to enlarge
WWII original aircraft on art board that measures 25″x20″. Illustrated image measures 19″x14.25″. This particular aircraft is identified on the reverse and sighed by the artist. Jerome Biederman was born February 1, 1913 in Braddock, Pennsylvania. He was a graduate of Chicago’s American Academy Of Art. He maintained studios in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Nashville during his career. This original Gouache watercolor illustration is of a British Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe and was part of a series of aviation paintings that Jerome did in the early 70's. His artwork routinely sells for over a thousand dollars and he is listed with Artfact with many of his artworks with a selling history.

Design and development

Alkan-Hamy gear in Nieuport 17

The Nieuport 17 was a slightly larger development of the earlier Nieuport 11, trimmed for the heavier powerplant used by the Nieuport 16 and with a larger wings and improved aerodynamic form. It was at first fitted with a 110 hp (82 kW) Le Rhône 9J engine, though later examples used uprated 120 or 130 hp (97 kW) engines.

Production of the new Alkan-Hamy synchronization gear permitted the wing mounted Lewis gun of the "11" to be replaced with a synchronised Vickers gun mounted on the fuselage to fire through the propeller. The standard Royal Flying Corps synchroniser, the Vickers-Challenger gear, was unreliable, and in British service the over-wing Lewis gun was retained, mostly on the new Foster mounting, a curved metal rail which allowed the pilot to slide the gun back to change drums or clear jams. Some aircraft, particularly French, were fitted with both guns but a single machine gun was most common.

Russian Nieuport 21 equipped with non-standard Hotchkiss M1909 machine gun

The Nieuport 21 differed in primarily using the lower powered 80 hp Le Rhône 9C and was intended as a fighter trainer or high altitude bomber escort, however it was used alongside the Nieuport 17 in the normal fighter roles in French and Russian service.

Nieuport 17 triplane undergoing evaluation

The Nieuport 23 differed from the 17 in only minor details, primarily centered around the use of a different machine gun synchronizer — which caused the gun to be offset and the fuel and oil tanks to be rearranged. Rear spar packing pieces were also redesigned. In service use, they were operated by both French and British squadrons alongside Nieuport 17s until replaced by Nieuport 24s.

Two triplanes based on the Nieuport 17 were built, one for testing by the French and the other by the British. The narrow chord wings were staggered in an unusual manner, with the middle wing furthest forward and the top wing furthest aft. No orders resulted, although Nieuport trialed the same layout on a Nieuport 17bis which was tested by the British as well, with no more success. Both types had good climbing characteristics but were tail heavy.

The narrow, single-spar lower wing which made the Nieuport 17 a sesquiplane (literally "one-and-a-half plane"), and helped give it an impressive climb rate, was liable to flutter (a phenomenon not fully understood at the time). Several Nieuport fighters did indeed suffer catastrophic lower wings failure, especially during recovery from a prolonged dive. British Nieuports were strengthened with modifications at No 2 Aeroplane Supply Depot, while training, and replacing the lower wings with those from Nieuport 24s at French squadrons helped reduce the danger.

Several Berliner Helicopters were built around Nieuport 23 fuselages including the 1922 and 1923 versions.

Operational history

Nieuport 17 flown by René Dorme while with escadrille N.3 during the battle of the Somme in late 1916.
RFC Nieuport 23 in 1917

The new type reached the French front in March 1916 and quickly replaced the earlier Nieuport 11 and 16 fighters in French service that had been instrumental in ending the Fokker Scourge of 1915. The Nieuport 17 entered service with Escadrille N.57 on May 2, 1916. Almost all of the top French aces used the nimble Nieuport during their career including Georges Guynemer, Charles Nungesser, Maurice Boyau, Armand Pinsard, René Dorme, Gabriel Guerin and Alfred Duellin. The type was also used by American volunteers of the Escadrille Lafayette when they replaced their earlier Nieuport 11s and 16s. During the latter part of 1916 and into 1917 the Nieuport 17 equipped every fighter squadron of the Aéronautique Militaire. Charles Nungesser scored most of his victories while flying Nieuports.

It was also ordered by the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service, as it was markedly superior to all British fighters available during most of its period of front line service. The RFC in particular still had large numbers of obsolete Airco DH.2s in service nearly a year later when it incurred severe losses during Bloody April. While the majority of aircraft lost were obsolete observation aircraft such as the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2, the Nieuports had begun to lose their decisive advantage and took losses as well. British squadrons that used the type include Nos 1, 29, 32, 40 and 60 of the Royal Flying Corps and No 6 of the Royal Naval Air Service. During the Battle of Arras much use was made of British Nieuports in balloon-busting attacks to prevent enemy artillery spotting. No 40 Squadron experimented with low level hedge-hopping attacks to reach the balloons while Nieuports of No 60 Squadron co-operated with F.E. 2bs of No 11 Squadron to carry out massed strafing attacks on German infantry entrenched on both sides of the River Scarpe.

Lineup of Italian Nieuport 17s, built by Nieuport-Macchi

By mid-1917, the Nieuport was losing its superiority over German types such as the new Albatros D.III. The more powerful, 130 HP (95.6 kW) Clerget 9B nine-cylinder rotary engine, along with aerodynamic refinements such as stringers fairing out the fuselage sides resulted in the Nieuport 17bis which was produced in very small numbers. Further refinement and a switch to more powerful and lighter Le Rhône rotaries resulted in the Nieuport 24 and the 27 which gradually replaced the 17s, 21s and 23s in service while the 150 hp SPAD S.VII had begun replacing the older Nieuport fighters in French front line squadrons by mid-1917. The British retained their Nieuports until early 1918.

Lineup of Nieuport 17 trainers at Issoudun Aerodrome, France

Many British Empire air aces flew Nieuport fighters, including top Canadian ace Billy Bishop, who received a Victoria Cross while flying it, and Albert Ball, V.C. who often hunted alone in his Nieuport. 'Mick' Mannock VC flew Nieuports early in his career with No 40 Squadron. His VC award reflected his whole combat career - including his time on Nieuports. The top-scoring Nieuport ace was Captain Phillip Fletcher Fullard of No.1 Squadron RFC, who scored 40 kills between May and October 1917, before breaking his leg in a football match.

Italian aces such as Francesco Baracca, Silvio Scaroni and Pier Piccio all achieved victories while flying Nieuport fighters. In Belgium the 1st and 5th Belgian escadrilles were equipped with the Nieuport 17. Belgian aces flying the type included Andre de Meulemeester, Edmond Thieffry and Jan Olieslagers. Imperial Russian forces operated large numbers of Nieuports of all types including the Nieuport 17, 21 and 23, with many continuing in service after the Russian Revolution with the Soviet Union. Russian Nieuport aces include Alexander Kazakov.

Like other Nieuport types, the 17 was used in large numbers as an advanced trainer after its operational days were over. The American Expeditionary Forces purchased 75 Nieuport 17s for training while the French also operated large numbers as trainers.

The French Aviation Maritime used several Nieuport 21s for deck landing training in 1920 pending the delivery of dedicated carrier aircraft such as the Nieuport-Delage NiD.32RH.

The Artist
"History will duly set aside the years 1900-1950 as the most momentous. Invention followed close upon the heels of invention...of all the bewildering and glittering array, few if any remotely approach in importance that role occupied by the ability and means to move...on the land, in the air, above and below the surface of the water," expressed Jerome D. Biederman. And few artists have been equally adept at capturing important vintage automobiles and other forms of transportation as this pioneering artist.


"My final year in high school, I convinced myself that, above all else, I wanted to become an artist, and started a vigorous inquiry into every school of art within a thousand miles of my hometown Pittsburgh," Biederman wrote in his autobiography, published in the November-December 1970 issue of Horseless Carriage Gazette. He attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago. "The only entrance requirement consisted of artistic proof of one's ability, so I prepared a complete catalog featuring an imaginary automobile. Each page portrayed a separate model, each laboriously rendered in profile, all in full and glorious color. When this massive document was finally lashed together, it possessed all the weight and characteristics of a suitcase loaded with bricks. Thus, for better or worse, my artistic career was launched."


Biederman graduated from the Academy in October 1932, and like many of his contemporaries, the rigors of the Depression meant that it took him three years to find a job in his field. "My introduction to the advertising world was a revelation akin to the opening of 1,000 doors," he wrote. "Such mysteries as art direction, layout, production, type, reproduction-all unfolded in rapid succession...I survived this routine for years, but slowly and inevitably had begun the realization that the artist must at some time look to specialization and away from generalization in order that he might achieve recognition, prominence, and even fame. In 1940, I departed the advertising affair for the calmer atmosphere of a studio.


"I turned my full attention and energies to transportation vehicles...on/in the water, air and land," he continued. "Movement in its various forms has dominated my time, my thinking, and my life these past thirty years. In the years that followed, I did become known and my particular specialty recognized, but many detours were necessary, including art directorships, freelance artist, etc. As my exhibits became more numerous and my sells more regular, exposure of my efforts began to enter into commercial channels...calendars, prints, premiums, novelties, magazines, as well as other channels."


As Biederman's expanding body of work was gaining him prominence, he began a relationship with the McCleery-Cumming Corporation in 1956; this calendar company retained the artist to create six paintings for each of their 1958 automobile calendars. He painted for the calendar company for 36 years, and in the first 31 of those years, 186 automobile paintings were printed without interruption. A total of 444 Biederman transportation paintings were published in McCleery-Cumming calendars by 1993. In addition to the calendars, Mr. Biederman's automotive paintings were featured prominently in Playboy magazine, Automobile Quarterly and Horseless Carriage Gazette. He retired at the age of 75, in 1988, and died in 1996.


According to his widow, most of Biederman's paintings were done in tempera on heavyweight 20 x 30-inch illustration board. Calendar art averaged roughly 10 x 15 inches, depending on the subject. A substantial portion of Biederman's body of work remains intact, and most originals are available for purchase at $1,200 apiece.


"It seems to me that despite the untold millions of devotees adherent to this, that and the other...the fundamental 'love affair' lies in and with the internal combustion engine, the good, bad or indifferent that surrounds it," Biederman wrote. "The combination of motor, wheels and body, has known, knows, and will experience moments of greatness, be they in performance, styling, concept, even flights of fancy."

Shipping Weight: 3 lbs
Your Price $550.00 USD