Dicta Ira

Nieuport 47mm Cannon

Text by Merrill & photo by Jay Thompson

Originally developed for the French Navy as a lightweight deck gun for protection against motor torpedo boats, the 47 mm Schneider semi automatic gun, was modified in 1915 and 1916 for use as an antiaircraft gun, further lightened, and higher velocity ammunition produced. In 1917, the French Navy, inspired by British and German experiments, requested that the Schneider gun be further modified for aircraft mounting, to produce an aircraft capable of seriously damaging surface craft and submarines.

Aircraft manufacturers were approached to produce the aircraft, but SPADE, pressed for production, and already disappointed by their experience with the SPADE 12, declined. Nieuport, with no contracts for their obsolete designs, jumped at the chance, and produced a Model 28, with the Schneider gun firing through the propeller hub. Although the plane would fly with the gun installed, firing tests conducted on the ground resulted in the failure of all interplane and cabane struts, with the wings falling to the ground. Under pressure from the Navy, Nieuport reinforced the light structure of the 28, and again, the wings fell off when the cannon was fired, a third attempt to reinforce the wing structure was made, resulting in the wings staying on during ground tests, but no flight tests were made, as the modified plane would not leave the ground. Attempts were made to get it to fly, including the installation of experimental Clerget engine designs, but the N 28 Cannon, refused to leave the ground. Eventually stored in a shed at the Marseilles naval base, the N28 'cannon" was used as an expedient anchor, when during a gale in 1919, a French cruiser lost it's anchor at sea, and needed a replacement.