The Morane-Saulnier Type I was a variant of the Type N fighter aircraft that was powered by a 110hp engine and had an endurance of 1 ½ hours.
The RFC first ordered the Type N, a shoulder-winged monoplane fighter powered by an 80hp engine, in 1915. A first batch of three aircraft was delivered in the autumn of that year, followed by a second batch of twenty-four aircraft in March-June 1916. At the same time the RFC was interested in the potential of a version of the same aircraft powered by a 110hp Le Rhône engine. On 14 January 1916 Captain Lord Innes-Ker of the British Aviation Supplies Depot was ordered to write to Morane-Saulnier to order a single Morane parasol with 110hp engine and deflector propeller, and to inform that that if it carried three hours worth of fuel, could be flown by a moderate pilot and had a speed of at least 100mph at 8,000ft then more orders would follow.
By April-May 1916 Morane-Saulnier were referring to this new aircraft as the Type I, when they wrote to the RFC to announce that they had installed a new wing on the Type N, and that it was the same as was to be used on the Type I. By 22 January 1916 they had produced the drawings for the 110hp aircraft with three hours endurance, but the first prototype was produced by mounting the new engine in a standard Type N, with lower fuel capacity. This aircraft was ready by 4 March 1916, and although it hadn’t yet begun its trials another 12 were ordered. This first Type I was taken over by the RFC and used to trials.
The first Type I to be delivered with its Alkan synchronizing gear installed arrived at No.1 Air Depot on 19 July 1916. This was one of a batch of four aircraft that had been expected in June, but that were delayed by problems with the Alkan gear. They joined No.60 Squadron (along with the Type V). The 110hp Morane aircraft were not popular and the squadron had to be rested in early August while replacement aircraft were found. The Type I remained in limited service with the squadron after this, but all 110hp Morane scouts were withdrawn on 11 October.
A handful of Type Is were used by the French air service, armed with a centrally mounted Vickers gun. More were ordered by the Russians, starting with twenty in October 1916. There were still 18 in use on 1 August 1917, but they were scattered along the vast Eastern Front. At least one Russian pilot was successful with the type, Ivan Wassiliwitsj Smirnoff, who flew with the XIX Fighter Detachment.
Engine: Le Rhône 9J rotary
Wing span: 27ft 0 ½ in
Length: 19ft 1in
Height: 8ft 2 1/2in
Empty Weight: 736lb
Loaded Weight: 1,124lb
Max Speed: 104mph at sea level
Endurance: 1hr 20min