Nieuport 81 E2
Student-pilot Gaston "Cotton" Lambert seated in Nieuport 81 E2 9840, N° 3/P at Asch.
Single-engine twin-seat trainer.
In early 1918 the French government transferred four surplus Nieuport 81 E2 dedicated trainer aircraft to the Aviation Militaire Belge Pilot School at Juvisy-sur Orge. The Nieuport 81 E2 (also called Nieuport 23M) was closely based on the Nieuport 12 although its wings surface area being increased by 1 square meter to 23 m3 and its 110 hp Clerget rotary engine replaced by the 80 hp Le Rhône 9C. It is thought that the 80 hp power of its engine explains the out of sequence "80" series designation. In May 1919 when the Pilot School was moved from France to Asch airbase in North Eastern Belgium the four Nieuport 81's were integrated in N°s 2 and 3 Squadrons of the VIe Groupe d'Aéronautique. At Juvisy-sur-Orge they were identified as "401 to 404". At the Asch flying school the first received the numbers "1 to 4" but after a reorganisation of the local registration system they became known as "C, D, E & P". A 5th Nieuport 81 E2 was seen at Asch sporting the SFA number 9743 but no further information was found concerning this aircraft. The Nieuport 81 E2 operational career at Asch was cut short in August/September 1922 when they were considered to be worn out and thus withdrawn from use. The newly delivered Avro 504K's replaced the unique twin seat Nieuports 81 E2.
In April 1921 Nieuport 81's 8236 and 8262 respectively appeared on the Belgian Civil register as O-BABE and O-BABC while Nieuport 80 8480 became O-BABU. All three aircraft's registrations were cancelled in January 1922. (Daniel Brackx)