In 1938, ASJA planned a single-engine surveillance and bomber with the designation L-10 made entirely of metal. On 11 November that year, the Swedish defence materiel procurement authority ordered two prototypes of the aircraft, now designated P 7. The designation was later changed to Saab 17, the first Saab aircraft The aircraft design heralded a number of innovations.
The landing gear was retractable and was covered with streamlined fairings, which in its open position could also be used as dive brakes. The wheel could be replaced with a ski and there was a special float that could be permanently attached.
The maiden flight on 18 May 1940 was somewhat perilous. The cockpit wheel, which was not fully developed, came loose and fell off prior to landing. Apart from that, test pilot Claes Smith was pleased with the first flight.
In December 1940, the first order was agreed for 8 aircraft. Altogether, 324 Saab 17 aircraft were produced in three versions, B 17A, B 17B and B 17C. The three versions basically had different engines. The Saab 17 was decommissioned as a combat aircraft in 1948. Civil registered aircraft were subsequently used as target towing aircraft in Finland and Austria among others. Starting in 1947, 46 B 17A aircraft were delivered to the Ethiopian Air Force, with some remaining in service up to 1968.
There is still one aircraft in operation. Saab 17A no. 17239 (Blå Johan) was restored to an airworthy state prior to Saab's 60th anniversary in 1997 and is currently used at various air shows in Sweden and abroad.
Data and performance
Engine: SFA STWC-3, 1,065 hp
Max. take-off weight: 3,790 kg
Max. speed: 435 km/h
Max. altitude: 8,700 m
Saab 17A no. 17239 (Blå Johan) was restored to
an airworthy state prior to Saab's 60th anniversary.