The Saab 35 Draken

Growing up, I was passionate about model fighter jets. My shelves were littered with kit-set planes from almost every decade since the 1940’s. After I shared a post about the F-16 Falcon a few months ago a couple of you mentioned the Saab 35 Draken, the Swedish fighter jet with the same name as our company. It seems rude not to write an article about this fighter jet, and as I discovered, there are some interesting facts about it too.

The Saab 35 Draken featured an iconic and unproven delta-wing design – triangular-shaped wings that extend the length of the aircraft, without the need for a tail. This unique configuration allowed the Draken to perform exceptionally well at high speeds and altitudes, making it a formidable force in air defence.

Other variations of delta-wing design

In 1948 the Swedish Air  Force wanted a replacement for the Saab 29 Tunnan and Saab 32B Lansen.  After an initial prototype design (Saab 210) it went into full production in 1955 and entered active service in 1960 as Sweden’s fighter-interceptor jet. It was the first Western European-built jet to have supersonic capability, and the first supersonic jet to be deployed in Western Europe. As far as design goes, it was likely the first combat aircraft to have a delta-wing. This wing design also gave it the unique ability to be able to do the Cobra manoeuvre. It was also one of the first Western-Eoropean jets to exceed Mach 2 in level flight, setting the record on the 14th Jan 1960.

While it was the main fighter during the Cold War period, it never was used in conflict. Saab also produced Drakens for it’s allies, including Denmark, Finland, and Austria. Each country adapted the aircraft to its specific needs, with some modifications and upgrades over the years.

It was very good at short runway takeoffs making it easy to launch and operate from makeshift airfields in the event of an invasion. But one of the Draken’s notable achievements was its role in developing advanced aerial combat tactics. The Swedish Air Force used the aircraft to pioneer the use of beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile engagements and other modern air combat strategies. This experience helped shape the tactics and training programs of many air forces worldwide.

The Saab 35 Draken remained in service for over 45 years, with the last of these being retired by the Austrian Air Force in 2005. It’s fair to say that the Draken was an impressive fighter jet for it’s era, and it left a lasting legacy in the aviation world. It’s success paved the way for future Swedish fighter jets, including the Saab 37 Viggen and current generation Saab JAS 39 Gripen. The Saab 35 Draken remains a symbol of Swedish ingenuity and engineering excellence.

In my research, I came across this vintage promotional video for the Saab 35 Draken. Enjoy!


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