This past Sunday (Sept. 17) the Collings Foundation’s Nieuport 28 World War I-vintage fighter crashed on landing at the foundation’s home airport in Stow, Massachusetts. The aircraft reportedly suffered a landing gear failure, perhaps after a loss of engine power. It flipped onto its back and was seriously damaged, but the pilot suffered only minor injuries. The accident occurred shortly before 11:10 a.m. local time during the museum’s World War I Aviation Weekend at the American Heritage Museum, according to reports from the Stow Police and Fire Departments.
The Nieuport is not a replica, but a factory-built example that was constructed at a factory outside Paris in 1918. After the Armistice in November of that year, the U.S. government imported about 50 Nieuport 28s to help launch its Army Air Service.
The aircraft later flew in Hollywood during the 1930s in films such as Hell’s Angels and The Dawn Patrol. It was among the collection of movie aircraft operated by legendary film pilots Paul Mantz and Frank Tallman. After being sold at auction in 1968, the aircraft “largely disappeared from public view until 2019, when the American Heritage Museum started the restoration,” according to the museum’s website.
The restoration was completed by Mikael Carlson in Sweden, who found that “much of the original structure was in excellent condition,” according to the website. Likewise, the original nine-cylinder Gnome Monosoupape 9N rotary engine from 1918 was also well preserved and readily overhauled.
The Nieuport was returned to the Collings Foundation and flew in last year’s World War I Weekend. While the damage from the accident is substantial, the largely wood construction of the aircraft lends itself to rebuilding more readily than later, mostly metal aircraft.