American military services used the L-17 from the late 1940s through the early 1960s for liaison, reconnaissance, light cargo carrying and forward air control (FAC) missions. Six even became target drones. Designed for civilian aviation and first flown in 1946, it was introduced commercially as the NA-154 Navion. The U.S. Army Air Forces ordered 83 military versions under the designation L-17A.
Ryan Aeronautical Co., having bought the design and manufacturing rights from North American, built 164 improved L-17B Navions for the U.S. Air Force. Navion production ended in 1949. Later, 35 L-17As were converted to L-17Cs with improved brakes and greater fuel capacity. During the Korean War, some USAF L-17Cs were pressed into service for a short time as FAC aircraft.
All L-17s were redesignated U-18s in 1962. The L-17A on display was flown to the museum on April 7, 1986. It is marked as a Ryan-built L-17B used by the Air Force ROTC program at Bradley University, Peoria, Ill., in the spring of 1959.
Engine: Continental O-470-7 of 185 hp
Maximum speed: 163 mph
Range: 700 miles
Ceiling: 11,000 ft.
Span: 33 ft. 5 in.
Length: 27 ft. 4 in.
Height: 8 ft. 7 in.
Weight: 2,950 lbs. loaded
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