The Nieuport 17 of Lt. Werner Voss
& the story of a vendetta
By: Volker Haeusler
The Nieuport 17 of Lt. Werner Voss & the story of a vendetta There is little doubt that the original users of the Nieuport - the French - had only uninspiring color schemes and markings. Forunately for us modellers, other countries like Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Brazil, the USA and Botswana made better use of these aircraft, and had more colorful markings.
However, another successful user of the Nieuport 17 was Germany. One of the more colorful samples is the one flown in July 1917 by Werner Voss.
Thanks to the newly rediscovered informations I received from Dr. Dr. Uebelscherz, the Curator of the "Gemeinheitliche Stiftung zur Katalogisierung und Erhaltung der im Kriege verloren geglaubten, aber im Rahmen der Wiedervereinigung der deutschen Statten und des Zusammenbruchs des Sozialismus wiederentdeckten Schaetze des Preussischen und Kaiserlich-Deutschen Flieger Kulturerbes", shortened as GSzKuEdiKvgaiRdWddSudZdSwSdPuKDfKE e.V., I was able to reconstruct not only the design, but also the history of this aircraft.
The main source for this story, beside the 4 photos of the aircraft, is a letter of Werner Voss to Ms. Kaethe Unernst, dated August 23, 1917 (Letter can be found in file GSzKuEdiKvgaiRdWddSudZdSwSdPuKDfKE 409/17/voss/briefe/04). Here we learn the incredible story of Werner Voss personal Vendetta with Chalres Nungesser. He writes:
It seems I will have leave again in exactly one month´s time. In between I will continue to shoot down some Englanders with my new triplane that I just received. i will have a discussion on the markings of this aircraft with my faithful old mechanic Timm later this afternoon.
However, beside that, I have one more job to do: I learned from some captured newspapers that a Frenchman, a captaine Nungesser, has shamelessly copied my heart emblem that I carried on my Albatros in your honour. Even worse, he has actually added a coffin and some candles to that marking. I was really furious because of that. I therefore dropped some messages on the enemies airfields to challenge Nungesser for a dogfight. In order to give him a fair chance, I had a captured Nieuport repainted in my colors. You must know that everybody regards these Nieuports as lousy crates, which are much inferior to the British aircraft.
As the French colors are looking so uninspiring, I had the aircraft recovered in our new Tarnstoff, which makes the aircraft look much better. I also had the engine cowl, the wheels, the pilots headrest and the rudder painted in my Jasta color.
My good old Timm then painted the red heart that reminds me of you on the fuselage sides.
As Nungesser added the candles, Timm added a fork and a knive to the heart. Don´t misunderstand that, my dear Kaethchen:
This is only to show I will have this guy for breakfast, if he turns up. my Squadron comrades now call him "Le Croissant" because of that."
The letter goes on to describe Voss´holiday plans.
From the photos and this detailed description of Voss, we were able to econstruct the aircraft. The results are shown in the attached drawing.
Many thanks again to Dr. Dr. Uebelscherz of the "Gemeinheitliche Stiftung zur Katalogisierung und Erhaltung der im Kriege verloren geglaubten, aber im Rahmen der Wiedervereinigung der deutschen Statten und des Zusammenbruchs des Sozialismus wiederentdeckten Schaetze des Preussischen und Kaiserlich-Deutschen Flieger Kulturerbes" for his support.