The Third Reich's last ditch efforts to sweep the massed Allied bomber formations from the skies of Germany centred around the new crop of jet 'wonder weapons' that were issued to the Jagdwaffe from mid-1944 onwards. Far in advance of anything the Allies had even in the experimental phase, types like the Me 262, He 162, Me 163 and the Ar 234 could perform their combat sorties with relative impunity. However, paucity in numbers and unreliable jet engines eventually cancelled out any technological edge that these aircraft offered.
The Nieuport 11 boasts an important place in the technology race against German aircraft in World War I aerial warfare. It eventually led Nieuport to produce the first plane flown in large numbers in aerial combat by the United States.
The appearance in July 1915 of Germany's Fokker E I, armed with interrupter gear that allowed its machine gun to fire forward without striking the propeller, heralded a reign of terror over the Western Front that the Allies called the "Fokker Scourge". Among several alternative means for countering the Fokkers, until the Allies introduced practical synchronisation mechanisms of their own, was the French Nieuport – 11 a single-seat version of the Nieuport 10 sesquiplane ("one-and-a-half wing") mounting a Lewis machine gun above the upper wing, firing over the airscrew. Nicknamed the Bébé because of its comparatively small size, the Nieuport 11 was, though less robust than true biplanes, superior in structure and overall performance to the German monoplane. During 1916 the Nieuport 11, and its more powerful but more difficult to control stablemate, the Nieuport 16, battled a succession of improved Fokkers, the E II, E III and E IV, until the Germans abandoned the monoplane in favour of a new and deadly generation of biplane fighters. Even so, the Bébé's early successes also influenced the Germans to adopt sesquiplane designs of their own – most notably the Albatros D III and D V – while Nieuport also held on to the sesquiplane format longer than it should have. Fully illustrated with specially commissioned full-colour artwork, this is the absorbing story of the clash between these two innovative fighters at the height of World War I.