The 1935 contract for 110 A-17 attack bombers from the Northrop division of the Douglas Aircraft Co. launched the company as a producer of light, tactical bombers.
The A-17 started as an attack version of the Northrop Gamma and was designed principally for export. It had the same wings and undercarriage but had a new fuselage with an enclosed canopy for the pilot and radio operator/gunner.
A number of fixed- and retractable-undercarriage A-17 models were developed for sale to overseas customers, and because they were produced after the Northrop facility became the El Segundo Division of Douglas, they also were known as Douglas 8As.
Douglas built 352 A-17/8As. In addition to the U.S. Army Air Corps, they flew for air forces around the world.