exercises between the Army Air Company and the Army Artillery were held each
summer 1915-1926 at the large artillery range at Skillingaryd. This wast facility was since the year of 1777 the training ground of A
6 - The Royal Army Artillery Regiment of Småland . The regiment moved in
1913 its barracks to the town of Jönköping, 40km to the North, but Skillingaryd kept its importance as a
major artillery range.
In 1926, all remaining military balloon activity in Sweden was
concentrated to A 6. Reconnaissance, target observation and fire
direction was - according to the general opinion by the Artillery
officers - a task that best was solved with aeroplanes and balloons
the birth of the Air Force in 1926, the Artillery was the branch of the
Army that had co-operated most intensely with the Army Aviation Company.
But now the conditions totally changed. The Artillery gained the direct
command over the balloon activity, but had to go through the slow
official channels when their artillery observers needed training from
aeroplanes. The ideas of balloons and aeroplanes in tactical
co-operations were never realized. The summer weeks of training
observation and fire direction from aircraft and balloons became more
and more irregular.
aeroplanes for the Artillery was a natural and often repeated demand.
But this was never meet with a positive response by the generals, mainly
due to alleged economical reasons.
third alternative entered the scene - the autogiro.
The pioneer of this
kind of aircraft in Sweden was Rolf von Bahr (1912 -1988). In the summer
of 1935, von Bahr, together with his autogiro, made trials at
Skillingaryd. The test period was short - only three days. The intention
of the trials was to investigate if the autogiro was suitable as an
artillery spotter and as a suitable replacement for the vulnerable
balloon. The autogiro won easily the first round, but the enthusiasm
decreased when the trials were repeated the following summers. Instead,
two German Fiesler Fi 156C Storch, were purchased for evalutation. The
Storch was an aeroplane with exceptional good STOL capabilities. It
definitively won the match. Further 18 Storch were ordered and got the Air Force
designation S 14. The
Artillery had good use of the S 14, but had no sole rights to them. S 14
was used for a lot of different duties. No special aircraft for
artillery spotting was available to the Swedish Artillery during the
years of WWII, although it was badly needed.
Korean War showed again the importance of an efficient artillery
aviation. The helicopter had just been introduced, but it was still an
expensive thing. The era of the fixed-wing aircraft was not over. In
fact, the only forward air control available when the Korea War broke
out were a few light artillery observation aircraft L-4 Cub and L-5 Sentinel
based in Japan. Types like Stinson Sentinel, Cessna Bird Dog, DHC Beaver, North American
Navion and the famous Pipers - Cub and
Super Cub - were used by the US Army forces. The UK used Austers.
The Korean War proved that light artillery spotters made an invaluable work and also managed this with moderate losses. The Swedish government did not hesitate any longer. In 1954, the Army was granted means for the purchase of light aircraft. The activity started immediately. The first Army pilots were trained in hired Piper L-4 Cubs by colleagues from Jordbruksflyg AB - agriculture pilots with a great experience in flying at lowest altitudes.
Please click on the thumbnails for pictures and information
|Fpl 51 - Piper PA-18 Super Cub (1958-1974)|
|FPL 53 - Dornier Do 27A-4 (1962-1991)|
|Fpl 54 - Malmö Flygindustri MFI-10B Vipan (1963-1964)|
BAe/Scottish Aviation Bulldog
|Fpl 801 - Malmö Flygindustri MFI-9B Militrainer (1966-1968)|
|© 2002 Lars Henriksson, Ljungskile, Sweden||Updated 2010-07-24|