H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
B.N.I. A counterpart of the Sopwith Snipe, and resembling that type and other contemporary single-seaters in having provision for an over-wing Lewis gun as well as two Vickers guns with C .C gear, the B.N.I was designed in March 1918. The Lewis gun was actually fitted on this machine, being positioned somewhat to starboard, and the Vickers guns were semi-internally mounted, beneath a humped cowling. The makers advanced the claim that although the 'anti-airship'Lewis gun installation on the top wings of other lighters was disliked by many pilots, being too high above their heads 'to permit it to be directly sighted on a target in the best fighting attitudes', the gun on the B.N.I was 'practically in line with the pilot's eyes'.
P.Lewis The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
During 1917 Farnborough’s brilliant fighter designer H. P. Folland had vacated his position at the Factory and joined the Nieuport and General Aircraft Co. Ltd., at Cricklewood, where he was soon responsible for the firm’s first original design, the B.N.1, which was started early in 1918. As was to be expected from the Folland drawing-board, the resulting single-seat fighter was a workmanlike design with clean and appealing lines. Although stagger was employed widely to improve view, it was not embodied in the B.N.1’s two-bay cellules and another unusual feature, which Folland had used on his earlier S.E.4, was the fitting of single I-type interplane struts. The normal fuselage-mounted twin Vickers guns were augmented by a single Lewis gun on the upper centre-section. The B.N.1, wrecked in a crash on 10th March, 1918, was designed to use the 230 h.p. Bentley B.R.2 and displayed a vertical tail outline which revived the shape employed on the S.E.2a and S.E.4.
F.Mason The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
The manufacturer Nieuport & General Aircraft Co Ltd of Cricklewood had been formed before the War with the purpose of producing French Nieuport aircraft under licence in Britain. During 1917 the company was contracted to build several hundred Sopwith Camels, and at this time, in a quest to follow up with aircraft of its own design, secured the services of Henry Folland as its chief designer, one of a growing number of experienced designers and engineers who were becoming disenchanted with conditions at the Royal Aircraft Factory.
Folland’s first design essay with Nieuport was the B.N.1, yet another contender for selection as the Camel’s replacement under the Air Board’s Specification A.1A. The aircraft bore the unmistakable stamp of Folland’s design influence, with features such as the I-form interplane struts and the ventral tail fin, reminiscent of the S.E.4.
The B.N.1 was, however, an unstaggered, two-bay biplane powered by one of the first half-dozen Bentley B.R.2 rotaries to become available, and armed with two synchronized Vickers guns and a free Lewis gun on the upper wing. A large conical spinner was originally fitted over the propeller, but this was soon discarded.
Three prototypes, C3484-C3486, were ordered, and the first B.N.1 was completed and flown in February 1918. It arrived at Martlesham Heath at the beginning of March to take part in the competitive evaluation under Specification A.1A (also officially attended by the Sopwith Snipe, Austin Osprey and Boulton & Paul Bobolink). Unfortunately, on 10 March, the Nieuport caught fire in the air near Sutton Bridge, and was totally destroyed. As it was too late to complete a replacement aircraft for the trials, Nieuport was obliged to withdraw.
There is no doubt that the B.N.1 was superior in most aspects of performance to the Snipe, and the only record of a speed measurement that appears to have survived shows that it possessed a maximum speed of 127 mph at 15,000 feet (compared with 110 mph by the Snipe at that height), while its absolute ceiling of 26,000 feet contrasted with about 21,500 feet of the Snipe. As stated previously, it was the Sopwith Snipe which was declared the winner.
One of the other B.N.1 prototypes underwent structural strength tests, and the third was scrapped without being completed.
Type: Single-engine, single-seat, two-bay biplane fighter.
Manufacturer: The Nieuport & General Aircraft Co Ltd, Cricklewood, London.
Air Board Specification: A.1A of 1917.
Powerplant: One 230hp Bentley B.R.2 rotary engine driving two-blade propeller.
Dimensions: Span, 28ft 0in; length, 18ft 6in; height, 9ft 0in; wing area, 260 sq ft.
Weight: All-up, 2,030lb.
Performance: Max speed, 127 mph at 15,000ft; climb to 15,000ft, 16 min; absolute ceiling, 26,000ft; endurance, 3 hr.
Armament: Twin synchronized 0.303in Vickers machine guns on the nose forward of the cockpit, and one Lewis gun on sliding mounting above the upper wing centre section to fire over the propeller. (The Lewis gun was probably removed for the official tests.)
Prototypes: Three ordered, C3484-C3486; only C3484 was completed and flown (first flight, February 1918). No production.
W.Green, G.Swanborough The Complete Book of Fighters
NIEUPORT (& GENERAL) B.N.1 UK
The Nieuport & General Aircraft Company was established in November 1916 for the purpose of manufacturing Nieuport designs in the UK. When H P Folland joined the company following dispersal of the Royal Aircraft Factory design office, work began on an original single-seat fighter. Designated B.N.1 (the initials signifying ‘‘British Nieuport”), the new fighter was not related to any French Nieuport design and was an equi-span, two-bay, unstaggered biplane powered by a Bentley B.R.2 nine-cylinder rotary engine. Of fabric-covered wooden construction, the B.N.l carried an armament of two synchronised 0.303-in (7,7-mm) guns and a gun of similar calibre above the wing centre section. Three prototypes were ordered and the first of these was flown early in March 1918. After destruction of the prototype in a crash on the 10th of that month, development was discontinued and the remaining two prototypes were scrapped before completion.
Max speed, 127 mph (204 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4 570 m).
Time to 15,000 ft (4 570 m), 16 min.
Endurance, 3.0 hrs.
Loaded weight, 2,030 lb (921 kg).
Span, 28 ft 0 in (8,53m).
Length, 18 ft 6 in (5,64m).
Height, 9 ft 0 in (2,74 m).
Wing area, 260 sq ft (24,15 m2).