J 35 - SAAB 35 Draken (1959-1999)
Swedish Jet Fighters -main page Page 1 (5)

J 35A Draken

Around 1950, Sweden saw the need of a capable interceptor aircraft that could protect the country from transonic bombers carrying nuclear bombs. This demanded a radar-equipped fighter aircraft with supersonic speed, very high rate of climb, great range and endurance and of course the capacity of the necessary weapon load. It demanded also STOL (Short-Take-Off-and-Landing) capability to be able to operate from ordinary roads during dispersed operations according to the standard of the Swedish Air Force.

The choice fell on an layout with a slender fuselage and a double-delta wing. This kind of wing would give good performances at high speed through the inner, extremely swept part. The outer, less swept part would combine this with good characteristics at subsonic speeds. The thick inner wing, integrated with the fuselage,  provided a large fuel capacity and good space for landing gear and fixed armaments. It also made the construction very rugged. 

The design was evaluated in the SAAB 210 research aircraft ”Lill-Draken”. This was built at reduced scale (about 70 %) and only used for subsonic flights. This experimental aircraft is now exhibited at Flygvapenmuseum (see photo).

 The first of the prototypes took to the air in October 1955. The deliveries of the first production variant, J 35A, began in 1959. This model had a Rolls-Royce Avon 200 engine (Swedish designation RM 6B) which gave a thrust of 6.535 kp together with a domestic designed after-burner.  

Draken (Swedish for ”the Dragon”, although the word also can be translated as ”the Kite”,  was designed as a high-altitude interceptor, but showed itself also very capable at low altitudes. It was also built in a reconnaissance version (S 35E) and a tandem-seat trainer (SK 35C). SAAB 35 was exported to Denmark, Finland and Austria.

The life-time of this excellent aircraft is remarkable; it served well in the Swedish Air Force in combat duties for forty years. The following versions of the Draken fighter versions were used in the Swedish Air Force:

J 35A -  90 built and delivered 1959-1961. From the 66th aircraft, the tail was made longer to make room for a new after-burner and a retractable tail gear. This change allowed aero-dynamic breaking, improved the STOL-performances and increased the thrust power when re-heat was used.

J 35B - 73 built. Delivered 1962-1963. This version had a better radar, a better sight and was integrated in the STRIL 60 system.  A number of J 35A:s were rebuilt to J 35B standard. 

J 35D - The production variant of 120 aircraft was delivered 1963-1964. The engine was now changed to the stronger Rolls-Royce Avon 300 (RM 6C), delivering a thrust  of 7.880 kp with the afterburner activated.  24 aircraft was bought back by SAAB and converted to 35OE and exported to Austria.

J 35F - 230 of this version with improved electronic equipment were built. The J 35F had integrated radar- sight- and missile systems. Also the radio equipment and the avionics were improved. The armament alternatives were more numerous and more efficient. J 35Fbis was a modified version fitted with an infrared sensor. The J 35F delivered between 1965 and 1972.

J 35J -  67 J 35Fs were upgraded to J 35J standard and were provided to the Air Force between 1987 to 1991. This variant had upgraded electronics, modernized automatic cannon installation, more hardpoints for missiles and larger fuel capacity. The last operative J 35J made its last flight in 1999 and is now exhibited  at Flygvapenmuseum, painted  in the blue colour of 2nd squadron of F 10. All other versions of Draken are also preserved at Flygvapenmuseum at Linköping.

Span 9,42 m. Length 15,21/15,34 m. MTOW 12.430 kg (J 35J). Maximum speed Mach 2,0.

Photo at top - J 35 A of Wing 16, code 52. Air Force # 35090. Earlier the aircraft was exhibited at Flygvapenmuseum (photo), but is now on display at Österlens Flygmuseum. See bottom of this page!



For the Model Builder

Airfix has a plastic model kit of J 35 Draken in scale 1:72. Amazon's price is considerable lower than the usual shop prices, at least here in Sweden. Catalogue number A02039. Click on the thumbnail to get to Amazon's page about this model.
Swedish fighter aircraft SAAB J 35 Draken on stamp from Marshall Islands 1995
SAAB J 35 Draken of Wing F 16 at Uppsala depicted on stamp from Marshall Islands issued 1995
J 35 Draken Jonathan Henriksson
  A dull February day 2000 with three Draken at the Swedish Airforce Museum: J 35D (# 35375) of Wing F 4, code 05 and two J 35J. These are the last  Draken (#35541) of the 3rd (yellow) Squadron of F 10, (code 43), and the last Draken in service (# 35540) in the Swedish Air Force, (code 46) of the 2nd (blue) Squadron of F 10 (bottom).  

The J 35J Draken above painted in blue (# 35540) is today dislayed at Österlens Flygmuseum (Österlen Air Museum). The museum is situated about 8 km west of Simrishamn in Skåne (Scania), the most southern province of Sweden. If you are a Draken fan, this is a place you just have to visit!

Österlens Flygmuseum has no less than 16 Drakens at its disposal. Of these aircraft about half of the number is displayed in the exhibition and the other half is stored in workshop of the museum. A list of the aircraft is available on the museum's website.




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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2013-03-06
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