B 5 - Northrop 8A-1 (1938-1950)

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Swedish Air Force Dive Bomber B 5 - Northrop/ASJA 8A-1

ASJA at Linköping, a company later incorporated with SAAB, saw early the advantages of building low-winged monoplanes in stressed skin construction. The technique was successfully used by Boeing in the manufacturing of aircraft for postal service in 1930. Soon, Douglas rapidly followed in Boeing’s footsteps.

Northrop Corporation, a subsidiary company to Douglas, had 1933 designed an attack bomber, the  Northrop 8A-1, based on the fast civilian aircraft Northrop Gamma One Gamma was used in Sweden for the transport of air mail. The bomber, designated A-17, was purchased by the US military aviation and other variants were exported to several countries. A license agreement was made between ASJA and Northrop concerning manufacturing of the 8A-1 in Sweden. ASJA got an order from the Swedish Air Force in 1938 of a first batch of 40 aircraft. This order would later be followed by others. Totally 103 Northrop  8A-1, in Sweden designated B 5, were delivered to the Air Force.  

To take part of the latest American aeronautical know-how, nearly 50 American engineers were employed by ASJA in 1938. However, the outbreak of WWII led the Americans to return back. The last one (sometimes called ”the last of the Mohicans”) left Sweden in March 1940. Nevertheless, ASJA succeeded to adapt the modern construction techniques with good results. 

The original Northrop 8A-1 was fitted with a retractable landing gear. As the Swedish conditions sometimes necessitated skis during the winter, the landing gear of the B 5 became fixed. Also the engine type was changed from the original American to a license-produced NOHAB Mercury XXIV of 980 hp.  

The 8A-1 was not designed as a dive-bomber, but the Swedish B 5 was adapted for this technique.  

The B 5 occurred in the following sub-designations:  

B 5A - One pattern aircraft, manufactured in USA and assembled by CVM at Malmen. Air Force Number 7001.  

B 5B - 64 aircraft, the first one built in USA, the remaining in Sweden. Six of the aircraft equipped with double command. # 7002 - 7065.

B 5C -  38 aircraft, nearly identical to the B 5B variant. The major difference was a modified bomb installation. # 7066 - 7103.   

B 5D -  A few aircraft got this new designation when they were fitted with target towing equipment.  

The B 5 could carry the same bomb load as the well-known Junkers Ju 87B ”Stuka”; one 500 kg bomb mounted to a bomb-fork or two 250 bombs together with four 50 kg bombs. As defensive armaments, the B 5 was fitted with five 8 mm machine-guns.  

The B 5s were withdrawn from dive-bombing when the SAAB B 17 began to enter service. In 1944, some of the B 5s were re-built as target towers and advanced trainers.    

Span 14,55 m. Length 9,70 m. Height 3,76 m. MTOW 3.400 kg. Maximum speed 330 km/h.

Photo above: Winter equipped B 5 of Wing F 4 at Frösön. Air Force # 7018.



For the Model Builder

MPM Production, Czech, has developed a plastic model kit of ASJA/SAAB B 5 in scale 1:72. It also includes resin and photo-etched parts. Catalouge number 72514. Click on thumbnail for larger image.

MPM Production plastic model kit for Swedish B 5


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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2010-07-16

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