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The Nieuport 17 was a French biplane fighter aircraft of World War I The type was a slightly larger development of the earlier Nieuport 11, and had a more powerful engine, larger wings, and a more refined structure in general. At first, it was equipped with a 110 hp Le Rhône 9J engine, though later versions were upgraded to a 130 hp engine. It had outstanding maneuverability, and an excellent rate of climb. Unfortunately, the narrow lower wing, marking it as a "sesquiplane" design with literally "one-and-a-half wings", was weak due to its single spar construction, and had a disconcerting tendency to disintegrate in sustained dives at high speed. Initially, the Nieuport 17 retained the above wing mounted Lewis gun of the "11", but in French service this was soon replaced by a synchronised Vickers gun. In the Royal Flying Corps, the wing mounted Lewis was usually retained, by now on the improved Foster mounting, a curved metal rail which allowed the pilot to bring the gun down in order to change drums or clear jams. A few individual aircraft were fitted with both guns - but in practice this reduced performance unacceptably, and a single machine gun remained standard.