S 17BL & S 17BS - SAAB S 17 (1942-1952)

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Swedish Air Force Naval Reconnaissance Aircraft SAAB S 17BS of Wing 2, Hägernäs.

The SAAB 17 was originally intended as a reconnaissance aircraft, although it is most known as a dive bomber. It was the first modern monoplane in light metal shell construction both designed and built in Sweden. (See also B 17 in the chapter ”Bombers”).  

The contract for two prototypes of the new aircraft was signed in the end of 1938 between the Air Board and ASJA, a predecessor to SAAB. The aircraft flew for the first time in May 1940. The trials resulted in a lot of improvements of the design.  

SAAB 17 as a reconnaissance aircraft was ordered in two versions. 21 aircraft, S 17BL (”L” = Land), were built primarily for co-operation with the Army. They were delivered to the Air Force in 1942. The S 17BL succeeded the Fokker C.V-D/C.V-E (S 6), a now very obsolete biplane from the end of the twenties. 38 aircraft of the S 17BS variant (the last ”S” = Sjö = Sea), were to succeed the old ”Hansa” (S 5) for naval reconnaissance, and were fitted with floats. These were also delivered in 1942. Totally 322 SAAB 17 of five different versions were manufactured.  

All SAAB 17s had a crew of two placed under a long canopy. One observing window and one camera hatch were arranged on each side of the floor in the reconnaissance variants. The marine version S 17BS was equipped with a P.R. camera type N2. 

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

The S 17BL was painted according to the then existing Air Force standard. The upper side was olive green and the underside light blue-grey. The naval version S 17BS was initially painted in a dark grey-green colour  - ”submarine paint” instead of the olive green.   

The lack of suitable engines for the SAAB 17 was a great problem. 550 Pratt & Whitney ”Twin Wasp” engines had been ordered from USA together with the great order of  316 combat aircraft from American manufacturers. Due to the outbreak of WWII, only 62 aircraft reached Sweden and the delivery of engines and other aircraft equipment was interrupted. Moreover, license production of engines were denied by the USA due to export restrictions. Luckily, the SFA (Svenska Flygmotor AB) managed to copy the ”Twin Wasp”, which were to power the ”A”-versions of the SAAB 17 bomber. But for the less demanding reconnaissance aircraft, the Bristol Mercury XXIV 9-cylinder radial engine of 980 hp had to do. This engine was also manufactured under license by SFA. 

To get a maximum of tenacity of the wing, it lacked recesses for the landing gears. The gears of S 17BL were folded backward-upward and were covered by stream-lined cowlings. The landing gear with wheels could be replaced with a retractable ski gear. The floats of the S 17BS were fitted with water rudders. 

S 17BL - Length: 9,8 m. Span 13,7 m. MTOW 3790 kg. Max. speed 395 km/h.   

S 17BS - Length: 10,0 m. Span 13,7 m. MTOW 4.000 kg. Max. speed 345 km/h. 

Photos of S 17BSs of the naval flying Wing F 2 near Stockholm.


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 Naval Reconnaissance Aircraft SAAB S 17BS of Wing 2, Hägernäs.


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© Lars Henriksson Updated 2010-07-17


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