FPL 801 - Malmö Flygindustri MFI-9B Militrainer (1966-1968)

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The AB Malmö Flygindustri (MFI) first commercial success - the MFI-9 - was based on Björn Andreasson’s BA-7, a two-seat aircraft he designed and built as a prototype in his garage when he was employed at Convair in the USA in the 1950s. Björn Andreasson has played an important role in the development of light aircraft in Sweden.  

Andreasson, had worked at MFI’s forerunner AB Flygindustri (AFI) 1942-1945. In 1960 he returned to MFI and the company decided to further develop his BA-7. The main modifications were a more powerful engine and a larger cockpit. The first trial flights of the modified design, now called MFI-9, began in May 1961. The German aircraft manufacturer Bölkow discovered the small but capable MFI-9 and signed an agreement for license production in July the same year. Next year, the MFI-9 was displayed at the large aviation exhibition in Hannover. 

The MFI-9 was further developed for military use under the name MFI-9B Militrainer. ASW, light attack and training were some of the duties the aircraft could perform. The armament would be fitted in pods under the wings and consist of machine guns or rockets. For this reason, the wings were reinforced. The aircraft was designed to fulfil the demands for a new basic trainer, but was also contemplated as a successor to the FPL 51 Piper Super Cub.  

The idea behind the Militrainer as a combat aircraft compared with more expensive aircraft was primary that a large number of small and cheap aircraft could be bought instead of a few advanced, but expensive and vulnerable ones. The Militrainer could do most of the jobs- a treetop level and based at primitive airstrips. Take off and landing could be done at only 150 meters.  

The Air Force showed a certain interest of the concept. Trials proved that the aircraft was easy to maintain under active-service field conditions and tests with the wire-controlled missile Bantam were successful. Also test with two pods with a 7,62 mm machine-gun or an armament of six 7,5 cm rockets were executed. But the Air Force saw no demand of an ultra-light attack aircraft. Instead, ten MFI-9B were leased from MFI to be evaluated as basic trainers. All ten were delivered in 1966 and were tested at the War Flying School (F 5) at Ljungbyhed. They got the Air Force designation FPL 801. But the aircraft was regarded as too small, in particulary the narrow cockpit. The ten MFI-9B were returned to MFI after a year and sold to other customers. Instead, the Air Force chose the Scottish Aviation Bulldog (SK 61) as basic trainer.  

In 1969, the MFI-9B really saw active military service. The Nigerian province Biafra had declared itself independent and a civil war had broken out. The population of Biafra suffered from starvation and airborne relief consignments had begun to be arranged. The Nigerian Air Force made its best to disturb these relief flights. One of the organizers of the flights, Carl Gustaf von Rosen of Transair, reorganized the Biafran Air Force with nine MFI-9B which each were fitted with twelve French MATRA anti-tank rockets. Their daring activities were successful, but Biafra lost the war and had to give up independence.  

In 1968, SAAB bought MFI. The MFI-9 was further developed and the SAAB MFI-15 Safari and MFI-17 Supporter served in a number of countries.  

The FPL 801 was powered by a RR Continental 0-200-A engine of 100 hp.  

Photo: FPL 801, Sw AF/n 801-42, at Flygvapenmuseum. After its time as Air Force evaluation aircraft, it carried the civil registration SE-EUK.

Span 7,40 m. Length 5,90 m. MTOW 600 kg. Maximum speed 240 km/h.


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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2010-07-14