Saab B18 Twin-Engine Medium Bomber / Fast Reconnaissance / Dive Bomber Aircraft
The Saab B18 twin-engine medium bomber was a local solution for the Swedish Air Force born during of the fighting of World War 2.
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The nation of Sweden maintained a neutral stance during World War 2 (1939-1945) but was not blind to the worsening situation along their borders and elsewhere. This spurred development of several homegrown weapons that ultimately included both tanks and combat aircraft. Prior to the war, the Swedish Air Force managed a stock of German Junkers Ju 86 aircraft for its general fast reconnaissance role but, by the time of the war, the product was made obsolete by newer designs appearing elsewhere. As such, a replacement was sought which became the Saab B18, a three-seat, twin-engine aircraft introduced during 1944.
Competing designs to fulfill the requirement were reviewed before Saab was granted the development contract. The arrival of World War 2 in September of 1939 delayed work on the B18 as resources were committed to other more pressing projects. By this time, Air Force authorities had also revised the original requirement to include the role of level bombing which further hampered development as the changes to the B 18 were forced. The result was an oft-delayed first-flight occurring on June 19th, 1942. Testing and evaluation took the official introduction year to 1944.
The aircraft, said to have been influenced by America medium bomber designs of the period (indeed some Americans made up the Saab engineering staff), utilized a conventional twin-engine configuration. The engine nacelles were underslung along each wing mainplane and the mainplanes themselves were shoulder -mounted along the fuselage sides. The fuselage was given a rather deep appearance along its frontal section but tapered off nicely towards the empennage. The tail unit held a twin-rudder arrangement along upward-cranked horizontal planes. The crew spaces were concentrated at the front of the fuselage and heavily glazed - in this way, the aircraft mimicked some of the German medium bomber designs of the early-war period more than anything. The crew, numbering three, constituted the pilot and flight navigator in the traditional cockpit position over the nose with the bombardier seated in a position at the nose proper.
Power for the aircraft began with 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-1830 "Twin wasp" radial engines and these were seen in the original two prototypes and the B18A production forms. However, the engines gave only basic performance as the aircraft was more or less underpowered. Only later, in the B18B production model, were more powerful Daimler-Benz DB 605B inlines used and these outputted 1,475 horsepower apiece. Performance specifications (B18B) included a maximum speed of 360 miles per hour, a range out to 1,405 miles and a service ceiling up to 32,152 feet.