Saab 17 Light Bomber / Reconnaissance Aircraft
Over 300 Saab Model 17 aircraft were produced for the nations of Austria, Ethiopia, Finland and Sweden from 1941 until 1944.
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With the German conquest of Norway to the west and the Soviet invasion of Finland to the east during World War 2 (1939-1945), it behooved Sweden to maintain a viable defensive force to guard against its own impending invasion by a foreign power. As such, the country invested in procurement of foreign war-making goods and eventually looked to local industry when this became an unviable and impractical option. The Saab 17 was a product of the period, developed and manufactured by local means, and served the Swedish Air Force as a both a light bomber and reconnaissance platform for its time in the air.
Production ran from 1941 until 1944 and 323 examples were completed. The line eventually found service with the nations of Austria, Ethiopia and neighboring Finland before the end.
Origins of the Model 17 were during the latter-half of the 1930s as the design was born under the "L10" designation (originally a product of AB Svenska Jarnvagsverkstadernas Aeroplanavdelning (ASJA)). Following the company's merger with Saab, the L10 designation gave way to the more recognized Saab 17 designator. A pair of prototypes were completed and a first-flight recorded on May 18th, 1940. The first example was powered with a locally-built British Bristol "Mercury" XII of 880 horsepower while the second prototype followed into the air carrying a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 "Twin Wasp" radial engine of 1,065 horsepower.
The aircraft was of traditional design for the period, featuring an enclosed crew space, monoplane wings and a retractable undercarriage. The engine was held in a forward compartment and drove a three-bladed propeller unit. The tail unit incorporated a single, rounded vertical fin with low-set horizontal planes. The crew numbered two and were seated in tandem under a heavily-framed canopy offering fairly good vision around the aircraft.