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It says Capt Nungesser on the tail. I’ve researched him but can’t find out what type of plane this is. French?

enter image description here

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I believe what we're seeing here is Charles Nungesser's variant of a Kinner Airster. (I'm not 100%, but at the very least exploring the Airster can show how difficult identifying aircraft from this period can be.)

One of the complications of identifying aircraft from this era is that they vary far more than modern aircraft. Observing the planes outside the Kinner factory below - just among these three aircraft there are variations in tailplanes and struts, and even the wing section appears different!

Furthermore, one of Amelia Earhart's Airsters has a boxy fuselage section, the other more rounded; their tails and struts are rather different too. Both Earhart's have three-cylinder engines, but the other pictured Airsters have six cylinders (like the one in the original photo), and some had five.

However, at the risk of picking-and-choosing what fits, the similarities with a Kinner Airster are

  • exposed radial engine with circular cooler / exhaust
  • dihedral upper wing
  • pronounced cutout in lower wing where it meets fuselage
  • very distinctive central mount for the upper wing
  • scalloped trailing wing edges
  • cockpit placement with respect to struts and footholds
  • distinctive aileron rods
  • shape and scale of fuselage (lower wing does not even reach Earhart's waist)
  • this configuration (small, two seat, single outer support) is quite rare
  • period is correct (Nungesser died in 1929; first Airster was 1920)

Assuming this is an Airster, I'm going to speculate that Nungesser styled his tailplane to make it look a bit more World War 1 era, like the SPAD he flew in the war. Nungesser brought a whole fleet of aircraft to America, traversing the continent to re-stage World War 1 battles in the air. The aircraft behind is a SPAD XIII, possibly related to Nungesser's ill-fated attempt to sell SPADs to Cuba. source

Kinner Airster 1926 Kinner Airster 1926 source

Three Airsters outside the Kinner factory
Airsters outside the Kinner factory source

Amelia Aerhart's Airster Amelia Earhart's second Airster "The Crackerbox" (missing ailerons) source

Amelia Aerhart's Airster Another Earhart's first Airster "The Canary" source

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    $\begingroup$ Nice find @Party Ark, I believe you've got it right. The engine, wing and especially the upper wing support structure, that is of a very specific type, are all matching. The tail and landing gear are somewhat different, and so is the way the upper wing supports are installed as an A-frame, but as you correctly stated, planes of that era, and it seems that Kinner Airsters in particular, were somewhat one-offs. The tail is probably a modification by C.N. himself, as it imitates the typical Spad tail, and it is known that at one point C.N. was trying to establish an export business for Spads. $\endgroup$ – Jpe61 Nov 8 at 15:33
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    $\begingroup$ Please check out this link to see the plane in the question with captain Nungesser himself standing by it. The picture shows the (slight) difference in landing gear, and the upper wing support that is clearly the same as in Kinner Airsters, just installed differently: gettyimages.fi/detail/news-photo/… $\endgroup$ – Jpe61 Nov 8 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ That "very distinctive central mount for the upper wing," seen from the left, may have inspired Kinner's logo on the hangar. $\endgroup$ – Camille Goudeseune Nov 12 at 2:02
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Fairly certain it's a Breguet Br. 14

Do you have any other pictures, or a higher quality one?

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    $\begingroup$ The tail is a lot different between the one you suggest and the picture the OP provided. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Nov 6 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ Not only the tail - the upper wing has distinct dihedral which is missing on the Breguet. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Nov 7 at 6:27
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    $\begingroup$ In the photo you linked to, the leading edge of the lower wing is nearly at the level of the bystander's shoulders. Compare to the photo in the question... $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Nov 7 at 21:36

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