Saab J32 Lansen (Lance) Jet-Powered Single-Seat Fighter / Strike Aircraft
The indigenous jet-powered Saab J32 Lansen fighter served a multitude of roles for the Swedish Air Force during - and after - the Cold War.
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By the late 1940s, the Swedish Air Force (or "Flygvapnet") was reviewing options in an effort to replace its aging series of attack platforms - these both foreign purchases and indigenous aircraft designs. Consistent with Swedish military thinking - in which the entire country became a battlefield in the event of all-out war - the new aircraft should be able to reach all parts of Sweden, be they inland or at the ocean, at any time of day and in any weather condition. The Soviet Empire proved the largest threat to Sweden in the region and, as such, the aircraft would act as both a deterrent to invasion by the Red Army and as a lethal tool in the event of. Speed would, of course, play an important part of the design as would armament - this capable of tangling with land-based and aerial targets alike through use of cannon, rockets and missiles as needed. One of the primary missile armaments for the aircraft would eventually be the equally-new Rb 04 anti-ship missile then in development but would go on to include a license-production copy of the American AIM-8 Sidewinder ("Rb 24" in the Swedish inventory).
In 1948, Saab delivered their two-seat, jet-powered P1150 prototype with swept wings in a smooth contoured airframe tied to a British Rolls-Royce Avon 100 series afterburning turbojet engine (the latter also license-built in Sweden by Svenska Flygmotor as the RM). Interestingly, the aircraft also featured one of the first pairs of wings designed with the help of computers to test initial concepts. First flight of the prototype was recorded on November 3rd, 1952. After a relatively short period of evaluation and testing of several more constructed prototypes, the P1150 was officially accepted into the ranks of the Flygvapnet as the Saab J32 "Lansen" (or "Lance"). Production began in 1953 and one example broke the sound barrier as soon as October 25th of that year, this, however, in a shallow dive. The initial production version - the A 32A "attack" model - was formally introduced to the Flygvapnet in 1955. Once in operation, Flygvapnet pilots and crew were quick to note the type's pleasing flight qualities. The Lansen series was in active service - in one form or another - up until 1997 - all with the Swedish Air Force.
The Lansen shared some outward design similarities to several contemporary aircraft including the North American F-86 Sabre (arrangement), the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star (intakes, profile) and the Supermarine Swift (arrangement) - all jet-powered fighters running on one turbojet engine and all, with the exception of the Shooting Star, introduced during this period. The armament loadout was fairly typical for any fighter aircraft of the time, this to include just two air-to-air missiles and its integrated cannon battery. The crew of two, however, was a benefit to the Lansen over that of her contemporaries, providing for an extra pair of "eyes-in-the-skies" as well as another "body" for which to share the burden of the workload on long patrols. The airframe itself eventually proved so versatile during her long tenure that it was utilized for a myriad of airborne battlefield tasks beyond that of ground attack, these including dedicated fighter, reconnaissance platform, electronic warfare platform, maritime patrol / anti-ship and target tug.
Design of the Lansen was highly conventional with a tubular and oblong fuselage tapered at the ends. The nose was conical in shape and housed the radar (when fitted as such) and cannon armament. The aircraft was crewed by a team of two seated in tandem under a single-piece canopy with the pilot occupying the forward seat. Despite fitted with a single powerplant, the engine was aspirated by a pair of semi-circle air intakes located on either side of the forward fuselage. The intakes were expertly contoured to the fine shapes inherent in the Lansen as a whole and the engine exhausted through a ring at the absolute rear of the design. Wings were low-set on the fuselage at amidships and well-swept along both their leading and trailing edges (moreso on the leading edge). The wings were home to various underwing hardpoints as well as the compartments for landing gear. The undercarriage was of a typical tricycle arrangement with the single-wheeled main landing gear legs retracting towards centerline at the wing roots and the single-wheeled nose landing gear leg retracting forwards under and forward of the cockpit floor. When at rest, with all her landing gears extended, the Lansen maintained a noticeably low profile by any regard. The empennage was conventional and made up of a single vertical tail fin (clipped at its top edge) featuring a swept leading edge and a pair of mid-set horizontal planes at the base of the fin, these also featuring sweep. Though unspectacular in overall design, the Lansen was nonetheless a functional airframe and continued the great Swedish traditional of producing a well-thought out product whose style was just as important as its function.
The base J 32B fighter model was powered by a single Svenska Flygmotor RM6A turbojet producing approximately 10,560lbs of dry thrust and upwards of 14,685lbs of thrust with afterburner (afterburner was nothing more than raw fuel pumped into the engine to produce short periods of extra power and, thusly, performance in the way of maximum speed). Empty weight was listed at 16,535lbs while the maximum take-off weight was rated around 29,760lbs. Maximum speed was reportedly 745 miles per hour - putting her on par with other jet fighters of her time - with a range of around 1,250 miles. Her service ceiling was in the range of 49,200 feet requiring the use of a pressurized cabin and integrated oxygen supply for the crew and the Lansen sported an impressive rate-of-climb equal to 19,685 feet per minute. She maintained a length of exactly 49 feet with a wingspan nearing 42 feet, 8 inches. Her height, when at rest, was listed at 15 feet, 3 inches - by no means a small fighter.