French Wings No. 2: Nieuport-Delage Ni-D 29 & Ni-D 62 Family
Although many companies in France produced fighters during the interwar period, Nieuport manufactured two landmark fighters beginning with the end of World War I. The Ni-D 29 biplane fighter appeared at the end of the war, and was produced for the Aeronautique Militaire during the twenties, as well as in several foreign countries. Export models were also sold to Belgium, Italy, Siam, Argentina, Spain, and Sweden. By the mid twenties, it was obvious that a replacement would be needed soon, and Nieuport then developed a high wing monoplane replacement, the Ni-D 62 series, many of which were built with a small stub wing, making it sort of a biplane. There were numerous variations in the production models, with differences in powerplant, wing arrangement, and fuselage structure. These were first built for the French, but later, many were sold to Spain, Romania, and Brazil. These aircraft served for many years, some being used as trainers as late as 1940. They were not particularly easy to fly, and were used in Spain after they were outdated, but they still were effective fighters under the right circumstances.
The book tells the complete story of the development and service of these aircraft, and is a welcome addition to the body of literature describing aeronautical development in the “between the wars” period. The planes are covered in sequence, beginning with the development of the prototypes, ending with an account of their service careers. Numerous photographs are provided, most of excellent quality.
There are no less that 65 aircraft illustrated in color drawings, many with three views of each aircraft. At the end of the book is an excellent cutaway drawing of a Ni-D 62 fighter, although none is provided for the Ni-D 29 biplane. In addition, a small drawing illustrates the differences in wing plan form of the different Ni-D 62 variants. Much of the text is devoted to the service careers of these aircraft, with photos and useful captions providing additional information. There is a lot of information provided that will be useful for modelers.
There are only a few things that I wish to comment on, none of which should preclude anyone from buying this book. Although there is an excellent flow chart explaining the differences between the various models, this could have been made more effective with a series of profile comparison drawings explaining the differences for rapid identification. There are few photographs of the early NI-D 62 series prototypes, and this is odd, as some of these aircraft were highly publicized. There is extensive text coverage of the fighters used in the Spanish Civil War, in which the type was used by both sides, but there is no illustration or photo of any Ni-D62 series aircraft in Nationalist markings, although 11 aircraft are illustrated in color from the Republican side. I Googled Wings Palette’s website, and came up with two Nationalist aircraft. In addition, the author mentions one Ni-D 52 airframe converted by Republican mechanics to take a Russian M-100 radial engine, but this is not illustrated at all. That would make a very interesting kit conversion. It’s odd that the losing side in that war was highly photographed, while the winning side was not.
Usually with this type of book, the authors will include information on model kits available, but this one doesn’t. I know that Heller produces a very nice Ni-D 62 in 1.72 scale, because I have built it. A trip to Burns’ Plastic Kits of the Twentieth Century also lists the NiD-29 produced in 1/72 scale by Cramer-Craft and MPM, and by Noix in 1/48. The NiD-52 has been issued by Azur and Vami in 1/72 scale, while the NiD-62/622 has been offered by Azur and Heller in 1/72, and Chaubert in 1/48.
All in all, this is an excellent work on two aircraft that have never received much attention from historians. For anyone interested in this period of history, especially modelers wishing to add these aircraft to their collections, this book provides a wealth of information. It is certainly worth the price, and should be the definitive work on the subject. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Dr. Roger M. Wallsgrove, Editor in Chief of Mushroom Model Publications, and John Noack of IPMS/USA for the review copy.