Thursday, May 23, 2013

Saab J35D Draken

The SAAB J35 Draken entered service in 1960 and served within the Swedish Air Force until 1998. It also served with the Austrian, Danish, and Finnish Air Forces. The J35 was intended as a high-altitude interceptor, but it performed quite well at lower altitudes as well. The characteristic double-delta wing makes the aircraft stand out to this day. The name "Draken" meand both dragon and kite, although some of the engineers working on developing the aircraft in the 1950s claim that the name refers to the airframe's similarity to a kite, and not the fire-breathing monster.

The kit is the Airfix J35F, originally marketed in 1970. The kit has several errors, such as the exhaust, the intakes, the pitot tube and some other minor issues, but it is easy to assemble and definitely looks the part of a J35, however with the early style canopy and the two cannon (one in each wing) the Airfix kit is more akin to a J35D, and hence I removed the IR sensor under the nose and the inlets on the spine to make a J35D. This version was the fastest of the J35 versions, being equipped with a Rolls Royce Avon 300 (RM 6C) which could deliver 77.3 kN of thrust with the afterburner turned on, making it able to accelerate until out of fuel. It was also the last J35 to carry two cannon. The D version was introduced in 1964.

Back to the kit: I decided to paint it in silver, a style typical of early Draken interceptors. I omitted the Rb27 and Rb38 missiles, which were the Swedish designations for the Hughes Falcon AAM, but added fuel tanks from the Revell Draken kit.

Although not immediately obvious in the photo, these particular J35s have one of their fuel tanks painted both green and grey. If this is to differentiate the left tank from the right tank or just to try out different paints is unknown to me. Please do let me know if you have an explanation.

Besides national and tactical markings, I added the unit insignia from the F13 Fighter Wing in Norrköping with the crest of the city depicting the patron saint, Saint Olaf, and a red eagle. The motto reads "Altius Citius Pericula Commoda Suscipientes", or "higher and faster with risks worth taking". However, this emblem was introduced in 1968, when I believe that most J35s had been painted in a green/grey camouflage pattern, so I will have to claim artistic license for the addition of the unit insignia. The aircraft is mounted on a CD painted to look like one of the roadway bases used by the Swedish Air Force during the Cold War. A no-parking sign was added for the sake of levity.

Also, please enjoy the clip above, which is from 1968 featuring a young Agnetha Fältskog of ABBA fame singing the praise of the J35!

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