A-17 file photo


CountryUnited States
ManufacturerNorthrop Corporation
Primary RoleGround Attack Aircraft


In 1934, Northrop Corporation developed an attack bomber from its existing Gamma design. On 6 Oct 1934, the prototype was delivered to the United States Army Air Corps for testing. After further modifications, Northrop receive a contract for production with the designation of A-17; 110 examples of the original A-17 design were built. They entered service in Feb 1936. The A-17A variant which came shortly after had completely retractable undercarriages; 129 A-17A aircraft were built.

Several variant versions were built especially for export purposes. 63 of them, designated as Model 8A-1, were built for Sweden. 30 aircraft, designated as Model 8A-2, were built for Argentina. The Netherlands, Norway, and Peru were some of the other nations that purchased them in the late 1930s.

By 1938, however, A-17 aircraft were already rendered obsolete as the US Army decided to pursue multi-engined aircraft for ground attack roles and the sell off the A-17 aircraft. 93 of them were sold to France, but only 32 were delivered before the German invasion, thus the remaining 61 were sold to the United Kingdom instead. Known as Nomad under the British banner, a small number of them served with the Royal Air Force, while the others were given to air forces of the Commonwealth countries such as South Africa and Canada for use as advanced trainers. 45 of them were sold to China, where they were used extensively particularly early in the Second Sino-Japanese War.

In total, 446 aircraft of all variants of the A-17 design were built.

Source: Wikipedia.


MachineryOne Pratt & Whitney R-1535-13 Twin Wasp Jr. double row radial air-cooled engine rated at 750hp
Armament4x7.62mm M1919 Browning machine guns, 1x7.62mm trainable machine gun, up to 544kg of bombs in internal bay and external wing-mounted racks
Span14.60 m
Length9.80 m
Height3.61 m
Weight, Empty2,210 kg
Weight, Loaded3,377 kg
Speed, Maximum332 km/h
Speed, Cruising274 km/h
Service Ceiling19,400 m
Range, Normal1,127 km


A-17 aircraft at rest, date unknownA-17 aircraft at rest at an airfield in China, late 1930s

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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Alan Chanter says:
    13 Dec 2014 09:33:31 AM

    In December 1935 the Northrop Corporation received a contract for an improved A-17A model which introduced a retractable tail-wheel landing gear and the more powerful 825-hp R-1535-13 engine. Some 129 were built, initially by Northrop, but in 1937 Douglas acquired the remaining 49 per cent of Northrop Corporation stock, and it was the Douglas Company which completed production of these aircraft. Of the total, 93 served with the USAAC for just eighteen months, before being returned to Douglas for resale to the United Kingdom and France. The RAF received 60, designating them Nomad Mk I, and these were all subsequently transferred to equip the South African Air Force.

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