All I have is this photo, found in a collection of photo's which I'm trying to identify family members and an approximate date the aircraft is in service would help. I've tried googling the aircraft Number but it only shows an Afro monoplane. The number is N 9732. Any suggestions would be appreciatedenter image description here


2 Answers 2


I think it may be a Bréguet 14. Compare it to this photograph:

French Bréguet XIV B.2, 1918 (Wikipedia)

You can see the same two sets of vertical struts on the wings, which are quite distinctive, and the wing looks like it has the same large flaps, plus the large forward tail section. The fuselage has the same two step holes (at least, I assume that's what they are) seen on this photograph, and the rear seat is also just visible.

The related Bréguet 16 was slightly larger, with three pairs of struts, so it's not one of those; there was also a related Bréguet 17 which seems to have been visually quite similar, but produced in much smaller numbers. I suspect it may be after the war, as it does not seem to have a gun in the rear seat, and the number on the tail doesn't seem to match the wartime style of numbering. They were still knocking around into the late 1920s/early 1930s.

Bréguet 14s were fairly widespread, but I think these look like French markings. However, I don't know enough to be able to speculate on what "N 9732" might indicate in that context.

  • $\begingroup$ Many thanks for the reply, the period 20/30s seems compatible with other photo's that show people in cars of 1930 vintage. I'm less knowledgeable about aircraft so thanks again for the pointer. $\endgroup$ Apr 7, 2021 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think the engine matches nor does the rounded front of the vertical stabilizer. $\endgroup$
    – Pilothead
    Nov 27, 2022 at 21:13

It is a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Fairey III.D, with Fleet Air Arm serial N9732, not a Breguet 14, 16 or 17.

The markings are British - French aircraft have their serial on just the rudder within the stripes usually all in black (but occasionally all white), generally with a letter or letters denoting the original manufacturer or designer, usually above the serial number, and a specification table below it. A Breguet would have a Br or Bre either above the serial or to the left of it.

British aircraft from 1916 or so until the 1930s had the serial in an outlined format, on the rudder and/or the side of the rear fuselage in a much larger and more legible typeface. British serials for the RAF started with numbers, then after hitting 5 digits, they added a prefix letter and started over, then when those ran out, two prefix letters, all sequentially, so 9999 was followed by A1, A999 by B1, Z999 by AA1 however aircraft for the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm had a separate system of numbers, either as just a number, or as in this case, prefixed with the letter N for Navy - and to make it more confusing, the RAF also used an N, and had an airplane with this same serial number - an Avro Anson.

The serial number is listed at http://www.ukserials.com/serials-older-00naval.htm but because it is RN and not RAF, no other details are known. The Fairey III.D first flew in August 1920, entered Fleet Air Arm Service in 1924, and was withdrawn from service shortly after 1927 when the streamlined III.F entered service. This machine was purchased in a batch whose serials ran from N9730 to N9791.

They were more commonly seen on floats, but could be flown as either a floatplane or a landplane.

Attached are a drawing of the III.D, and a photo of a similar machine. Drawing of Fairey III.D Fairey III.D Mk.2 in flight.

  • $\begingroup$ Mike, welcome to Av.SE! Very nice answer, and extensive support & background info. Please continue to contribute here! $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Nov 27, 2022 at 23:01

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