French Usage Charts

From Wings of Linen

These charts show the use over time of each WWI French aircraft. The data is derived from escadrille records in Davilla and Soltan's French Aircraft of the First World War. While it contains little data on the arrival and retirement of each type, we do benefit that each escadrille changed names when it changed types. For instance F(arman)1 changed to AR1 when they traded their Farman F.40s for A.R.1s in April 1917. Such changes did not occur on a knife edge. Furthermore, it is difficult to know when an escadrille transitioned from one type to another by the same manufacturer, e.g. SPAD 7 to SPAD 13. Hopefully such uncertainties will average out over the large amount of data.


  • Some planes like the Letords are difficult to account for because they were handed out in small numbers to many different escadrilles, but only one or two escadrilles were outfitted completely enough to change name to LET.
  • Escorts like the Caudron R.11 were placed to the second chart because they were rarely sent out on combat patrol like a conventional fighter.
  • If the Nieuport 17 curve seems smaller than expected, consider that the Nieuport 23 and Nieuport 24 were basically small refinements of the Nieuport 17.
  • The first fighter was probably a Morane-Saulnier L with deflector plates, but it is difficult to know how many Type L's were used in that role vs. as a conventional two-seater.
  • The horizontal scale is different on the two charts because the fighters did not come into use until later in the war.


Reconnaissance, Bombers, and Escorts


  • Dr. James J. Davilla and Arthur M. Soltan. French Aircraft of the First World War. Flying Machines Press, 1997. ISBN 0-9637110-4-0.