B 17 - SAAB 17 (1941-1955)
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Swedish Air Force Bomber Aircraft SAAB B 17. Photo Lars Henriksson, www.avrosys.nu

Thanks to the licence-manufacturing of the Northrop 8-A 1 (B 5) bomber by ASJA/SAAB, the Swedish aircraft industry had got experience of  design and manufacturing of modern monoplanes in light metal shell construction. In March 1940, SAAB, now in fusion with ASJA,  offered the Air Administration the type 17 aircraft, the first of their own designs to be manufactured as a series. Two test aircraft had earlier been built. SAAB 17 was originally intended as a reconnaissance aircraft, but  now it was also redesigned as a dive-bomber.  The fifty American engineers, who had taught their Swedish colleagues the technique of building modern metal aircraft, also helped the Swedish engineers with the design of the first part of the new aircraft 

In  1940, serial building of 322 aircraft was ordered. They were to be built in five variations; S 17BL and S 17BS for reconnaissance duties, and B 17A, B 17B and B 17C for bombing duties. The letters A-C designated the different engines that could be obtained. Sometimes, engines could be obtained from Italy. Otherwise, the engines had to be manufactured in Sweden. The engine alternatives were the Bristol/Svenska Flygmotor Mercury XXIV of  890 hp, the Svenska Flygmotor/Pratt & Whitney STW C-3 Twin Wasp of 1.065 hp and the in 1940 the from Italy ”emergency purchase” Piaggio P XI bis RC 40D of 1.020 hp. All variants were air-cooled radial engines.  

An advanced bomb-sight, BT2 (m/42) was developed and was introduced in the later versions. Bombing with this kind of sight could be done at a lower diving angle. 

To maximise the strenght of the wing, it lacked recesses for the landing gears. The gears were folded backward-upward and were fitted with stream-lined covers (see photo above). The covers were intended to be used as air-breaks during dive-bombing, but was not longer necessary when the new bomb-sight BT2 was installed in the aircraft. The landing gear with wheels could be replaced with a retractable ski gear.   

The aircraft was, in addition to the bombs, armed with three 7,9 mm machine-guns - one at flexible mounting behind the navigator and two fixed in the wings.

Many problems occurred and many delays slowed the production programme. The first aircraft was delivered in December 1941. The last left the workshop during the second part of 1944.  

B 17A (132 built) was a light bomber equipped with a Svenska Flygmotor/Pratt&Whitney STW C-3 14-cylinder radial engine (Swedish Twin Wasp) of 1.065 hp. Svenska Flygmotor had managed to copy this engine, which was built without a license agreement. The armament consisted of two fixed 8 mm machine-guns m/22 in the wings and a moveable 8 mm machine-gun at the observers place behind the pilot. Normally, a bomb-load of 500 kg could be carried. Air Force numbers 17006 and 17238-17368.

B 17B  (55 built) was similar to the B 17A, but with a Bristol/Svensk Flygmotor Mercury XXIV 9-cylinder radial engine of 980 hp. Air Force numbers 17003-17005, 17007-17016, 17101, 17105-17115, 17151-17164 and 17187-17202.  

B 17C (77 built) was similar to the two other variants, but had a Italian Piaggio P XI bis RC 40D 14-cylinder radial engine of 1.020 hp. Air Force numbers  17017-17057, 17102, 17203-17237. 

The SAAB 17 was a reliable aircraft with good performance. However, it had a tendency to ground loop at landing.  

46 SAAB 17A were sold to the Ethiopian Air Force in 1947-1953.

After their career as combat aircraft, eighteen B 17As were used as target towing aircraft by civilian operators. One of these aircraft, # 17239 with the civil registration SE-BYH, is now restored to flying condition and painted and marked in the colours of 2nd Squadron of Wing F 7 at Såtenäs, code ”blue Johan”. See photo above from airshow at F 7 in 2009.  

Photo below: Two B 17B from Wing F 7. This photo, as so many other on this website,  from the large collection of Lars E. Lundin, Västervik.

Length: 9,80 m. Span 13,70 m. MTOW 3.790 kg. 


For the Model Builder

Marivox has developed a plastic model kit of SAAB 17 in its different versions. Decals for five nations. Scale 1:72 (Kit No. 3). Click in thumbnail for larger image.


Marivox plastic model kit of SAAB 17

Swedish Air Force Dive Bomber Aircraft SAAB B 17

Military Aviation in Sweden - main page

© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2010-07-17


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