The Cessna 170 first appeared on the American market in 1948 as a four-seat version of the earlier all-metal two-seat Cessna 120 and the four-seat Cessna 140. The 140, which had been lengthened, had extra windows fitted as well as having an electric starter motor installed. The first 170 had a fabric-covered wing, two wing struts on each side, and a vertical tail.
Metal covered wings, and one wing strut in place of two and a new dorsal fin, were introduced on the 1949 model 170A, and the model was improved in 1952 as the all-metal 170B (2,907 built) with L-19 type flaps, followed later by the CE-170C.
In 1955 the company developed the Model 172, which was essentially a Model 170B with detail improvements and the tailwheel landing gear replaced by a spatted tricycle unit.
The 170's 145-hp Continental delivers 65 percent power at 5,000 feet pressure altitude turning 2,450 rpm, and produces 120 mph true using only eight USG per hour. Since later model Cessnas, with a similar engine, cruise at 2700 rpm, the 170's recommended cruise setting should extend engine life.
In 1956 some 1,170 Model 172s were sold, compared with 174 of the Model 170B, whose production was terminated.
By the time production ceased in 1957, 5,174 Cessna 170s had been built.