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Fighter / Attack:
   Bell P-39 Airacobra
   Bell P-63 Kingcobra
   Brewster Buffalo
   Chance-Vought F-4U Corsair
   Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
   Curtiss SB2C Helldiver
   Douglas A-1 Skyraider
   Douglas A-26 Invader
   Douglas SBD Dauntless
   Fairey Firefly
   Focke-Wulf Fw 190
   Grumman F4F Wildcat
   Grumman F6F Hellcat
   Grumman F7F Tigercat
   Grumman F8F Bearcat
   Grumman TBF Avenger
   Hawker Hurricane
   Hawker Sea Fury
   Lockheed P-38 Lightning
   Messerschmitt Bf-109
   Mitsubishi A6M Zero-Sen
   North American P-51 Mustang

   Polikarpov I-16
   Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
   Supermarine Spitfire
   Yakovlev Yak-3
   Yakovlev Yak-9

Beechcraft AT-11 Kansan (C-45)
   Beechcraft T-34 Mentor
   Boeing / Stearman PT-17

   Commonwealth CA-25 Winjeel
   Commonwealth CA-1 Wirraway
   DeHavilland DHC-1 Chipmunk
   DeHavilland DH-82 Tiger Moth
   Fairchild PT-19 Cornell
   Hunting / Percival Provost
   Meyers OTW
   Nanchang CJ-6
   Naval Aircraft Factory N3N
   N. Am. BT-9 / BT-14 / Yale
   N. Am. T-6 Texan / SNJ / Harvard
   N. American T-28 Trojan

   Piaggio P149
   Ryan PT-22 Recruit

   Scottish Aviation T1 Bulldog
   Vultee BT-13 Valiant
   Yakovlev Yak-11
   Yakovlev Yak-18
   Yakovlev Yak-52

   Avro Lancaster
   Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
   Boeing B-29 Superfortress
   Bristol Blenheim / Bolingbroke
   Consolidated B-24 Liberator
   Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer

   Douglas A-3 Skywarrior
   DeHavilland Mosquito
   Fairey Swordfish
   Heinkel He-111 / Casa 2.111

   Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon / Ventura
   Martin B-26 Marauder
   North American B-25 Mitchell

   Beechcraft C-45 (AT-11)

   Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter (KC-97)
   Curtiss C-46 Commando
   Douglas C-47 Skytrain / Dakota
   Douglas C-54 Skymaster

   Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar
   Fairchild C-123 Provider
   Grumman C-1 Trader (S-2)
   Lockheed C-60 Lodestar
   Lockheed C-69 Constellation

Utility / Observation / Special Duty:
   Aeronca L-3 Grasshopper
   Aeronca L-16 Grasshopper
   Antonov AN-2 Colt
   Auster AOP 6/9
   Avro 652 Anson
   Avro Shackleton
   British Taylorcraft I-V
   Cessna L-19 / O-1 Bird Dog
   Cessna O-2 Super Skymaster
   Cessna T-50 / UC-78 Bobcat
   Consolidated PBY Catalina

   DeHavilland U-6A / L-20 Beaver
   Fairey Gannet
   Fairey Swordfish
   Fieseler Fi156 Storch
   Grumman S-2 Tracker (C-1)
   Grumman HU-16 Albatross
   Grumman OV-1 Mohawk
   Junkers Ju 52/3m

   Lockheed P2V Neptune
   Max Holste M.H.1521 Broussard
   Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun

   Noorduyn UC-64 Norseman
   North American L-17 Navion
   N. Am./ Rockwell OV-10 Bronco
   Piper L-4 Grasshopper
   Stinson L-5 Sentinel
   Taylorcraft L-2 Grasshopper
   Westland Lysander

   Aero L-29 Delfin
   Aero L-39 Albatros
   Aermacchi MB-326
   Avro Vulcan
   BAC Strikemaster
   Blackburn (BAC) Buccaneer
   Canadair Tutor
   Cessna A-37 Dragonfly
   DeHavilland Vampire
   DeHavilland Venom
   English Electric Canberra
   English Electric Lightning
   Folland Gnat
   Fouga CM-170 Magister
   Gloster Meteor
   Grumman F9F Panther
   Hawker Hunter
   Hispano HA-200 Saeta
   Hunting Jet Provost
   Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
   Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star
   McDonnell-Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
   McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom
   Messerschmitt Me-262
   Mikoyan MiG-15
   Mikoyan MiG-17
   Mikoyan MiG-21
   N. Am. F-86 Sabre / FJ-4 Fury
   N. Am. F-100 Super Sabre
   N. Am. / Rockwell T-2 Buckeye
   Northrop T-38 Talon / F-5
   PZL / WSK TS-11 Iskra
   Saab J35 Draken
   Soko G-2A Galeb
   Temco Pinto & Super Pinto

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North American L-17 Navion

(Variants/Other Names: NA-145; U-18; See History below for more)

North American L-17 Navion
Photo by Max Haynes - MaxAir2Air.com

History: As the German air industry was throttled back by the Versailles Treaty after W.W.I, so was the American aviation industry reduced by the cessation of hostilities and the misreading of the American private aircraft potential after WWII. Returning GI's either had no interest in flying because of their combat experiences, or couldn't afford aircraft as they tried to resume their lives, get an education, buy homes, and so on. Thus, while many aircraft manufacturers converted their assembly lines to new or revived civilian lines, the well of purchasers ran dry within a few years of war's end. If North American Aviation was different, it was a matter of degree, not kind. When WWII ended, the North American production facilities that had been pumping out P-51 Mustangs, B-25 Mitchell bombers and T-6 Texan trainers were suddenly pumping nothing, which North American quickly changed by activating the four-place 185hp NA-145 "Navion" monoplane design for the civilian market.

With 1,109 built during 1946-47, the plane was initially highly successful, even attracting the interest of the United States Army Air Force, for which a prototype, designated L-17, was developed in 1946. In production, 83 of the craft, designated L-17A, were manufactured that year as liaison aircraft, personnel/cargo carriers, and as trainers with the university-based Reserve Officers Training Corps flight training program. Six of the aircraft were used as target drones.

Ryan Aeronautical Company acquired the design and manufacturing rights for the Navion and sold an additional 158 L-17Bs (a new and improved version of the design) to the newly established United States Air Force. These were delivered to the USAF in 1948, and five more were ordered in 1949 when production of the L-17 ended. Thirty-five of the A models were subsequently upgraded into L-17Cs via improvements to the brakes and an expansion of the plane's fuel capacity.

When the all-service renaming of aircraft took place in 1962, surviving L-17s were re-designated U-18. The Navion was retired from active service shortly thereafter, some surviving to the present as civilian aircraft. Counting the military products, Ryan manufactured 1,240 Navions between 1949-51.

The Navion was then dormant from 1951 until 1957, until Tubular Service and Engineering Co. (TUSCO) acquired the design and tooling from Ryan. TUSCO upgraded the powerplant options for new and existing Navions, designing speed and efficiency options in Navion models D, E and F. TUSCO also designed and produced about 120 of a Navion Model H variation, the Rangemaster, which replaced the sliding canopy entry with a cabin door. True to its name, the Rangemaster also had a significantly enlarged fuel capacity that increased its range to more than 1800 miles from the original 700 mile range of the Navion.

This brought the total number of Navions manufactured until 1964 to 2,469, with about 246 of that total being L-17s.

After TUSCO, the Navion passed though various corporate hands, with another 50-60 of the "Rangemaster" 285 hp models produced between 1964 and 1976. In 2003, Sierra Hotel Aero, Inc. of South St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, acquired the type certificate, tooling and a substantial manufacturing parts inventory, and in 2013 claimed to be working toward bringing the aircraft back to production. 

Nicknames: The "Poor Man's Mustang"

Specifications (L-17A):
        Engine: One 185-hp Continental O-470-7 piston engine
        Weight: Empty 1,945 lbs., Max Takeoff 2,950 lbs.
        Wing Span: 33ft. 5in.
        Length: 27ft. 6in.
        Height: 8ft. 7in.
            Maximum Speed: 163 mph
            Ceiling: 17,000 ft.
            Range: 700 miles
        Armament: None

Number Built: 2,469 Navions (Approximately 246 built as military L-17s.)

Number Still Airworthy: Unknown

 [ Flight Report by Budd Davisson ]

AeroWeb L-17 Page
American Navion Society ("Navioneers")
Johnny Rister's Place -- Navion photos
L-17.org -- "Preserving Navion military heritage"
Navion Aircraft, International --
The Navion factory and type certificate holder.
Navion Pilots Association -- Organization of Navion owners, pilots, mechanics and enthusiasts.

Navion Skies -- Service manuals, parts manuals and technical information about Navions.
Sierra Hotel Aero -- Navion support and STCs.
Southern Navion Air Group (SNAG) -- Navion owners and pilot's group.
TwinNavion.com -- Information about the twin-engine Navion.
Warbird Video Navion page

Books: Browse a selection of books about liaison aircraft.



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All text and photos Copyright 2016 The Doublestar Group, unless otherwise noted.
You may use this page for your own, non-commercial reference purposes only.

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