North American/Ryan L-17 Navion


The North American L-17 Navion was a four-seat, single-engine liaison aircraft used by the US Army and by the US and ROK Air Forces during the Korean War.  After the end of World War Two North American Aviation resumed manufacturing aircraft for the civil market, and the NA-145 Navion, nicknamed “the poor man’s Mustang,” was its first post-war product.  The first Navion flew in April 1946.  The US Army Air Force purchased 83 Navions in 1946, designating them the L-17.  Rights to the Navion were sold to the Ryan Aeronautical Company, which produced 163 of them for the US Air Force in 1948-1949.

Some L-17s were used for forward air control early in the Korean War, but they were primarily used for liaison and light transport duties.  Both General MacArthur and General Ridgway used L-17s as their personal planes.  One L-17 was supplied to the ROK Air Force, which used it for similar duties.

The Navion was retired from US military service in the mid-1960s, but it continued in intermittent civilian production, with a variety of companies, until 1976.  A total of 2,469 were built of which 246 were military models.