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.
Armament-wise, the Model 17 carried 2 x 8mm Ksp m/22F series machine guns in fixed, forward-firing positions as well as an 8mm Ksp m/22R machine gun on a flexible mounting in the rear cockpit. The bombload was up to 1,500lb of conventional drop ordnance.
The Model 17 emerged in its finalized production form as the "B17A". These served as dedicated light bombers and carried the Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S1C3G "Twin Wasp" radial piston engine ranging in horsepower from 1,000hp to 1,200hp. 132 aircraft were delivered to this standard.
The "B17B" followed as another bomber development but carried the Bristol Mercury XXIV engine of 980 horsepower instead (the engines were produced locally by SFA). Total production of this bomber mark ended at 55 units.
The final bomber mark became the "B17C". These were fielded with Italian Piaggio P.Xbis R.C.40D series engines of 1,040 horsepower and total production yielded 77 units. Performance of this model included a maximum speed of 270 miles per hour, a cruise speed of 230 miles per hour, a range out to 1,055 miles and a service ceiling up to 32,155 feet.
The "S17BL" was a turn to the reconnaissance role for the aircraft series and production eventually numbered twenty-one. The floatplane version of this mark sported floats in place of the wheeled, retractable undercarriage and thirty-eight aircraft were completed in this guise.
The Swedish Air Force began receiving the aircraft during 1942 but service and production was limited due to the emergence of jet-powered types. This soon rendered any further development of radial-powered designs moot for most air powers of the world. The Model 17 ran out its days in Swedish service during 1955 and, afterwards, some of this stock was sold off to Ethiopia where they flew until 1968. Finland received only a pair of aircraft in the late 1950s and the duo served as target tugs.
[ 323 Units ] : Saab - Sweden
Austria; Ethiopia; Finland; Sweden
- Ground Attack
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
32.81 ft (10 m)
44.95 ft (13.7 m)
14.76 ft (4.5 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Saab B17C production model)
5,908 lb (2,680 kg)
8,532 lb (3,870 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Saab B17C production model)
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