Swedish Air Force

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Master Sergeant
Jan 1, 2010
Swedish military aviation was born with the introduction to the Army of balloon observation during the late 1800s, and the first powered military aircraft were introduced around 1910. Sweden, originally operating a Navy and Army aviation corps, joined them to form the Royal Swedish Air Force (RSAF) in 1926. Between the end of WWII and the first half of the 1950s, the Royal Swedish Air Force had developed into an air force ranked among the world's largest and best equipped. As a result of Germany's attack on Poland on September 1, 1939, Sweden declared itself neutral – just as it did in 1914. The Swedish Prime Minister assured the Swedish people that "…our preparedness is good" – but regarding the Air Force, the air territory of Sweden, stretching 1572 km (975 miles) from north to south and 499 km (310 miles) from east to west, was to be defended by means of a total force of 40 medium bombers (mainly Junkers Ju86s), 30 light bombers (mainly Hawker Harts), 50 fighters (mainly Gloster Gladiators), 50 reconnaissance planes (mainly Fokker C.V.E.s) and 10 torpedo planes – making a total of 180 aircraft… However, despite the lack of equipment, the flying personnel were well-trained and of high quality by international standards; also the introduced system of geographically dispersed "war air bases" all over Sweden gave room for a highly flexible air force.

When Finland was invaded by the Soviet Union in November of 1939, Sweden declared itself "non-belligerent" instead of "neutral" in the Finno-Russian war, as feelings for the sister country were strong as a result of hundreds of years of common history. The national efforts to help the Finnish people, under the motto "Finland's cause is our cause!", were mostly of a civilian character, but many Swedish volunteers fought side by side with the Finns against the Russians, and infantry weapons were shipped over the Baltic Sea. Moreover, eight aircraft were initially donated to the Finnish Air Force, and support in the form of a flight wing was organised and made operational. RSAF air wings, "flottiljer", of that time, fully operational as well as planned, were numbered "F 1" to "F 18", and the voluntary wing sent to Finland was called the F 19 Wing. The wing was put under Finnish command, and consisted of twelve fighters (Gloster Gladiators), eight light bombers (Hawker Harts), three transport aircraft and 250 air force volunteers. In January of 1940, the F 19 wing was fully operational (as "Flight Regiment 5" in the Finnish war organisation). Until the armistice of what was called "the Finnish winter war", the Swedish Wing fought well against the Soviet Air Force, and the air crews' experiences provided valuable input for the further development of the Royal Swedish Air Force. Sweden imported some 200 fighters from Italy and the USA. The Swedish wood-and-metal fighter FFVS J 22 (constructed and built during the war, first flown in 1942), together with the dive-bomber SAAB 17 (first flown in 1940) and the medium bomber SAAB 18 (first flown in 1942) were all successful Swedish-built military aircraft of WWII. Thus, the Swedish neutrality watch was undergoing heavy progress during the war and the Swedish air defences were eventually a powerful force to defend Sweden from any possible hostilities. In terms of aeronautical technology, the Swedish aircraft industry was well-ahead regarding new inventions: the nose-geared, push-engine J21 fighter (first flown in 1943) necessitated the development of one of the first jet-driven ejection seats in operational use.

Even though Sweden never took actual part in the hostilities, the Swedish Air Force saw combat in terms of defending neutrality and guiding straying Allied and German aircraft to safe landing grounds. In this role, the RSAF proved especially useful in the southern parts of Sweden during the last years of the war, when Allied bombing routes were drawn increasingly closer to Swedish air territory. It is worth noting that no less than a total of 342 foreign military aircraft landed in Sweden during WWII, of which about 200 were American or British aircraft with varying degrees of battle-damage. To many Allied air crew in crippled Lancasters, B-17s and B-24s, Sweden provided a "haven of refuge" instead of ditching at sea or in German-occupied countries, although the air crews were detained in Sweden. There were special internment camps built and/or organised (Allied and German soldiers were kept in separate places), and although run by Swedish military personnel, the conditions were in many cases more like a spa than those of an imprisonment camp. At the end of the war, the strength of the Swedish Air Force had changed drastically from its status of 1939: in 1945 it had over 800 aircraft ready to pursue a combat role, including 15 fighter divisions (200 aircraft, of which the most modern were the newly acquired P-51s); 3 long-range reconnaissance divisions (30 aircraft); 5 short-range reconnaissance divisions (50 aircraft), and 6 naval reconnaissance divisions (40 aircraft). Among the most frequently used combat aircraft in the Swedish Air Force during WW2 were the following: Fighters: Gloster Gladiator (J8), Seversky Republic EP-1 (J9), Fiat CR42 (J11), Reggiane 2000 Falco (J20), SAAB 21 (J21), FFVS J 22 (J22), NA P-51 Mustang (J26); Bombers: Junkers Ju86 K (B3), Hawker Hart (B4), Northrop 8 A-1 (B5), Caproni Ca313 (B16), SAAB 17 (B17), SAAB 18 (B18); Torpedo aircraft: Heinkel He115 A2 (T2), Junkers Ju86 K (T3), Caproni Ca313 (T16); Reconnaissance aircraft: Heinkel He114 (S12), Fokker C.V.E. (S6), Hawker Osprey (S9), Fieseler Fi156 Storch (S14).

Army and Navy Aviation​

Even though the separate aviation units of the Army and the Navy were united in the Swedish Air Force in 1926, the combat roles of Army-related liaison and reconnaissance aviation as well as Naval reconnaissance and sea rescue continued to be executed by flight units closely affiliated with the Army and the Navy respectively. In 1939, a Royal Swedish Air Force wing, the F 3 wing, was assigned to perform army reconnaissance duties, using Fokker (S6), Fieseler Storch (S14), and later also Junkers Ju86 (B3), Handley Page Hampden (P5), Caproni Ca313 (S16) and SAAB 17 (S17). The RSAF F 2 wing served as a liaison unit with the Swedish Navy, operating in torpedo attack, reconnaissance and sea rescue roles, flying aircraft such as the Heinkel He114 (S12), Fokker C.V.E. (S6), Hawker Osprey (S9), Junkers W34 (Tp2), SAAB 17 (S17) and the (formerly German Luftwaffe) Dornier Do24 (Tp24).
In 1936, Cesare Pallavicino, an engineer at Caproni of Italy, designed two prototypes of two-engine aircraft intended to be used in the Italian colonies in Africa. They were named Ca 309 Chibli (Desert Wind) and Ca 310 Libeccio (South-west Wind). The Ca 309 was ordered by Regia Aeronautica of Italy and used in northern Africa mostly as a combined reconnaissance- and bomb aircraft or as a six-seated transport. The more powerful Ca 310 was exported to several other countries. Further developments were designated Ca 311 - Ca 314. Around 1.000 aircraft of the variants Ca 309 - 314 were manufactured. At the end of 1939, the supply of any aircraft to the Swedish Air Force from manufacturers abroad became impossible. The capacity of the domestic Swedish aircraft industry was small. One exception was the still neutral Italy. When the possibility to purchase Italian aircraft arose, Sweden had to take the opportunity. The aircraft, the fighters J 11 and J 20 and the Caproni Ca 313, in Sweden designated B/S/T 16, were not what the Air Force really wanted, and the business use to be mentioned as "the Emergency Purchase". As compensation, Sweden had to export important raw materials to the Italian war industry.

84 Caproni Ca 313 were delivered to the Air Force. Of these were 30 intended as bombers (B 16A) and supplied to the newly established bomber Wing F 7 at Såtenäs. The first B 16As arrived to F 7 in October 1940. The B 16A was armed with two fixed wing-mounted 13 mm automatic cannons and two moveable 8 mm machine-guns. One machine-gun was mounted in a dorsal turret. The other was fitted at the underside of the fuselage, firing downward-backward. The B 16 could carry an internal bomb load of 400 kg and an external of 250-400 kg. The crew of four consisted of pilot, radio operator/co-pilot, bombardier and mechanic/gunner. The aircraft was powered by two 750 hp Isotta-Fraschini Delta RC 35 engines of inverted V-type. The Ca 313 was not very successful as a bomber. During 1941, F 7 began to re-arm with light bombers (SAAB B 17). The Capronis were modified to long-range ("strategic") reconnaissance aircraft (S 16) and transferred to the reconnaissance Wing F 11 at Nyköping.


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During the early part of 1940, the Finnish-Soviet Winter War raged. The Swedish volunteer unit F 19 (F=Flottilj, approx. Wing) served on the Finnish side and defended the north part of Finland with some success against the Soviet bombing raids. However to be really effective the unit needed better fighters than the Gloster Gladiator it had on strength. In early February 1940, a nation-wide collection of funds for new fighters for F 19 were started in Sweden. This nation-wide collection of help to Finland had started by a sermon made by vicar Isaac Been, who declared "What Finland really needs are fighters! And the devil shall be expulsed by fighters!". On 15 February, a first contract for five Fiat CR.42s was signed, followed by a second for seven more on 24 February. The type was selected due to its immediately availability and the ease with which skies could be fitted. The intention was that the CR.42s were to enter service with F 19 in early April 1940. However, with the ending of the Winter War on 13 March, Finland declined delivery of the CR.42s, preferring to receive the equivalent cash instead. The Swedish Air Force quickly decided to take over the 12 aircraft, for use as reconnaissance aircraft with F 3 at Linköping. Meanwhile, the US decided to stop the delivery of 264 ordered fighters to Sweden. The fighters were the Seversky-Republic EP-1-106 (Swedish designation: J 9) (J=Jaktplan, which means fighter) and the Vultee Vanguard (Swedish designation: J 10). These fighters was to be delivered to F 8, F 9, F 10 (F=Flottilj, approx. Wing), but only 60 was delivered. The problem was now what to do, because new (and hopefully modern) equipment was urgently needed. The Swedish Air Force thus decided to order an additional 60 CR 42s from Italy. Totally 72 CR 42s was ordered and was the third and largest export order for the type. The Italian aircraft got the Swedish designation J 11. Sweden also bought four destroyers and 60 Reggiane Re.2000 Falco I (J 20) from Italy.


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The J 11s were delivered between April 1940 and September 1941, bearing the serials 2501-2572. They were powered by Fiat A74R.1C.38 engines providing a maximum 870 hp. The first dozen machines were flown to Sweden, the initial five leaving Italy on 29 February 1940, and the remaining seven on 15 March. The twelve first planes to arrive in Sweden was used as reconnaissance planes at F3 during the first summer were they were popular substitutes for the old Fokkers. The remainder were crated and delivered to CVM (Centrala Flygverkstäderna Malmslätt) for assembly, these arriving in Sweden five at a time from 20 December 1940 until 11 June 1941, and then in somewhat desultory fashion until the final three were despatched from Italy on 3 September 1941. By November 1941 all the Falcos were in service and they bore the designation of J 11 and were assigned to F 9 (F=Flottilj approx. Wing) at Säve, Gothenburg. Modifications included 20-mm armour plate behind the pilot, radio equipment and skis for winter service.

By early 1942, two J 11s from F 9were on permanent stand-by and one full squadron of the Wing was on 24-hour stand-by. From mid-march to late April 1942, the 1st Squadron was based in Kiruna in northern Sweden, to defend the ore-carrying railway to Norway. At this time the aircraft were fitted with skies. 2nd and 3rd Squadrons remained at Säve and performed a few interceptions over Swedish territory and escorted these out of Swedish airspace. Mostly however, the J 11s were too slow to intercept the intruders but despite this, the type was well liked by the pilot. However, poor standards on the material and hard use resulted in many accidents and this meant that they quickly needed to be replaced. In October 1943, F 9 started to replace the J 11 with the indigenous J 22 and some of the J 11 were transferred to the newly formed F 13 and became this unit's first type. Remaining CR 42 was declared obsolete on 14 March 1945 and the 13 remaining aircraft (with six additional as spares) were purchased by AB Svensk Flygtjänst.
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The Jaktfalk was constructed and manufactured by Svenska Aero as a private venture. The company contacted the Swedish Aerial board, requesting guidelines and wishes for a fighter aircraft. When no reply was received, Svenska Aero began to look at foreign designs to get some guidance. Jaktfalken was a conventional biplane equipped with an Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar 9-cylinder radial engine. The landing gear was fixed and there was a sour under the tail section. The fuselage skeleton was made of welded beams covered with fabric. The fore and aft part of the fuselage was covered in aluminum sheet. There was a fuel tank between the engine and the cabin, which contained enough fuel for 2,5 hours of flying.

The Swedish Air Force test pilot Nils Söderberg was given the mission to try out the new prototype at the Barkarby air force base. After one of his landings he said "this is the best aircraft that I have flown so far".

On November 11, 1929 the Jaktfalk was presented for representatives from authorities and the press. The Swedish Air administration decided that three Jaktfalken and three British Bristol Bulldog II fighters were to be ordered for comparative tests.The prototype was bought by the Swedish Air Force on January 9, 1930 and given the designation J 5. By February 1930, the Air administration decided to use a Bristol Jupiter engine as the air force standard engine. The designer, Carl Clemens Bücker was forced to modify the two ordered aircraft, by making new engine attachments and make modifications to the fuselage. These aircraft were given the name Svenska Aero Jaktfalken I (or J 6 in the Swedish Air Force). The order was followed by a new one for 5 aircraft with Jupiter VII engines in 1930. During test flights, powerful vibrations were encountered. Both Svenska Aero and CFV tried to solve the problem, without success. The aircraft was still approved by the Swedish Air Force. Bücker and CFV tried to modify the landing gear and the fuselage after the delivery. The aircraft had now a more angular fuselage and the Jupiter VIIF was chosen as the engine. The Swedish Air Force received three Jaktfalk IIs in 1932.

Svenska Aero tried hard to earn export orders for the Jaktfalk. Military representatives from Argentina and Japan came and tested the aircraft, but no orders followed. The only export order came from Norway, who ordered one aircraft in 1931, equipped with an Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIIA engine. This aircraft was used as a comparative aircraft against a Hawker Fury. When the Swedish Air Force wanted an additional seven aircraft in 1933, Svenska Aero had been bought by ASJA and the deliveries come from the new manufacturer, who made some minor modifications to the stabilizer and the windshield.


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The prototype Bü 181 (D-ERBV) made its maiden flight in February 1939 with Chief Pilot Arthur Benitz at the controls. After thorough works and official flight testing by the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) the Bü 181 was nominated to be the standard primary trainer for the Luftwaffe. Series production of the Bü 181 commenced in 1940/41. The types were designated A to D with only slight variations between each and could be powered either by the Hirth 500A or 504 engine. The Bücker factory at Rangsdorf built most of the Bü 181's, but because of demand was forced to license the Fokker Company in the Netherlands, who subsequently built 373 of the type for the Luftwaffe all of which were delivered by the end of 1943.

Production of both the Bü 181A and the slightly modified Bü 181D was begun by Fokker in Amsterdam in 1942 and its total wartime production was 708 aircraft. Between 1943 and 1945, Hägglund Söner AB in Sweden built 125 Bü 181's with the Hirth 500A engine with the Swedish military designation SK 25. Just prior to the German withdrawal from Czechoslovakia, production of the Bü 181D was initiated in the Zlin plant at Otrokovice, and production continued after the war, as the C.6 and C.106 for the Czechoslovak Air Force and as the Zlin Z.281 and Z.381 in various versions for civil use. During the 1950s the Heliopolis Aircraft Works of Egypt acquired a Czechoslovak licence to produce the Bestmann in versions similar to the Zlin Z.381 with a 105 hp Walter-Minor engine. It was produced for the Egyptian Air Force as the Gomhouria ("Republic") and subsequent versions were supplied to other Arab air forces. In all, 3,400 aircraft were built although only a handful survive today. Although built as a primary trainer for the Luftwaffe, the type also performed other duties such as communication, glider towing, and even transporting Panzerfaust weapons (a rocket projectile with a hollow-charge warhead used as an infantry weapon against tanks.) Movie buffs will recognize this plane as the one in the end scenes of 'The Great Escape'.


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To fulfil the defence plan of 1936, the Air Force looked for a medium bomber to equip the bomber wings F 1 at Västerås and F 7 at Såtenäs. After a study group had visited USA, the group concluded that the Douglas DB1 came closest to meet the Swedish requirements, but this particular design was not allowed to be exported. The Air Administration then decided to buy the bomber from Germany. This was resisted by the government, who hesitated to buy military equipment of German origin at that time. Contacts were taken with the British aircraft industry and eventually one Handley Page Hampden bomber (Swedish designation P 5) was procured for evaluation, although the Air Board regarded this as inferior to the German alternatives.

The German bomber aircraft that virtually met the requirements of the Swedish Air Force were the Heinkel He 111 and the, although they were evolved in parallel, more obsolete design Junkers Ju 86. German Luftwaffe had chosen the He 111 as its standard bomber, and the type was therefore not available for purchase by Sweden. But so the Ju 86 was, and favourable conditions regarding delivery and licence-building were granted. The Swedish Air Administration had to accept the Ju 86.

The export version for Sweden was designated Ju 86K by Junkers. The origin of the Ju 86 can be dated back to 1933, at a time when combat aircraft began to be developed for the still-clandestine Luftwaffe. Both bomber and commercial transport prototypes, the latter for ten passengers, were developed. The first prototype flew in November of 1934. Production of both the civilian and the military version of the aircraft was initiated in late 1935. The last Ju 86 for the German Luftwaffe was built in 1939.

The first Ju 86K, in Sweden designated B 3, was delivered to the Air Force in December 1936. Further 39 B 3s were built in Germany 1937-1938. 40 B 3s were also to be manufactured under license by SAAB's workshops at Trollhättan and due to be delivered between September 1939 and June 1942, but it was clear from the beginning that due to technical problems, the delivery would be delayed for about a year. After 16 B 3s built by SAAB, the production of this model was cancelled in favour to the more modern B 5 dive bomber.


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The B 3 was used by the Air Force in these variants:

B 3 - Junkers Ju 86A-1/K1: The three first aircraft, manufactured in Germany, and fitted with pair of 760 hp Pratt and Whitney Hornet S1E-G nine-cylinder radial engines. Air Force numbers 131 - 133.

B 3A - Junkers Ju 86K-4: 35 Germany-built aircraft, powered by a pair of 820 hp Bristol NOHAB Mercury III radial engines. Most of them were later modified to other variants. Air Force numbers 134 - 151, 153 - 154, 156 - 159, 169 - 170.

B 3B - Junkers Ju 86K-5: Two Junkers-built aircraft, powered by a pair of 825 hp Bristol NOHAB Mercury XII radial engines. Air Force numbers 152 and 155. Later a number of B 3A's were converted to B 3B's.

B 3C - Junkers Ju 86 K-13: Fifteen SAAB-built aircraft equipped with licence-built Bristol NOHAB Mercury XXIV engines of 830 hp. Also nine rebuilt B 3D's with the same type of engine.

B 3C-2 - Junkers Ju 86K-4/K-5: Fiftteen rebuilt B 3A with NOHAB Mercury XXIV engines of 980 hp.

B 3D - Junkers Ju 86 K-13: One SAAB-built aircraft ND 13 rebuilt B C's fitted with Polish-made PZL Mercury XIX-engines of 805 hp.

The armament were the same for all the B 3 variants. They were provided with three Browning 7,9 machine guns (in forward, dorsal and ventral positions). They could carry a bomb load of 1.000 kg. The crew consisted of pilot, bombardier/observer/front gunner, radio operator/ventral gunner and mechanic/dorsal gunner. Later, most of the B 3s were rebuilt as transport aircraft.

Span 22,70 m. Length 17,86 m. MTOW 8.200 kg. Maximum speed 350 km/h.


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The SAAB 18 design had two purposes. The B 3 (Junkers 86K) needed to be replaced and the Air Force needed an aircraft for strategic reconnaissance. The first of the two prototypes flew in July 1942 by SAAB's test pilot Claes Smith. Contrary to most other aircraft designs, the SAAB 18 flew without problems from the beginning. The Air Force designated the bomber version B 18 and the reconnaissance version S 18. Later torpedo bomber version, T 18B, was ordered. The crew department was asymmetrically placed to the left of the centreline of the rather narrow fuselage. The crew of three had to share a rather small "office", where the navigator's seat was directed backwards.

In January 1946, the 1st (red) Squadron of Wing F 14 at Halmstad in southern Sweden had been re-armed with B 18B. After only a month, the Squadron was ordered to fly to F 21 at Luleå in the North for winter exercises. Nine B 18B, together with one B 3 took off on the 6th of February, heading north. At Wing F 1 in Västerås, the squadron made a stop for refuelling. According to the plan, the flight would continue to F 21 the following day. But as the weather became bad, and most of the pilots had little experience of instrument flying, this was postponed.

On the 10th of February, the weather was judged improved, and the ten aircraft took off in the morning. Radio silence was ordered to make the exercise more realistic. In the Piteå area, the squadron flew into a heavy snow fog. The visual contact with the ground was lost and the fuel situation became critical. The aircraft were ordered to land wherever possible. All aircraft, except one, managed to make more or less successful forced landings on the ices around Härnösand. One B 18B was lost together with its crew and was never found. Three other aircraft crashed and were damaged beyond repair.

One of the more successful landings on the ice was made by Carl Axel Lindh, pilot of B 18B #18172, marked with code "D". The crew was happily saved. Only the pilot had got minor injuries, but when the aircraft was to be salvaged some days later, a wire broke and the aircraft sank to the bottom of the sea. None of the about 250 manufactured SAAB 18 of different versions was saved to the future, a decision that soon was regretted. To repair this mistake, diving for the wreck of 18172 began in the beginning of the seventies. After several years, the aircraft was found. In 1979, after 33 years on the bottom of the Baltic Sea, the "red D" was salvaged. It is now under restoration at one of the exhibitions halls of Flygvapenmuseum (the Swedish Air Force Museum) at Linköping.


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The B 18 was built in two versions - B 18A and B 18B.

B 18A was fitted with two Swedish-built "pirate copies" of the Pratt Whitney Twin Wasp STW C-3 engine, each delivering 1.065 hp. The aircraft could carry a bomb load of 1.400 kg. The internal bomb bay had room for two 500 kg or three 250 kg bombs or alternatively ten 50 kg bombs. Externally, further eight 50 kg bombs could be carried. The armaments consisted of one fixed and one moveable machine gun. The first operational aircraft was delivered to the Air Force in September 1943. When the more modern B 18B version began to come into use, the B 18As were modified for reconnaissance missions and re-designated S 18A. 60 B 18A was built.

B 18B was upgraded with the stronger Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine. Most engines were license-built by Svenska Flygmotor AB (now Volvo Aero). The two engines delivered 1.475 hp each. The first series-built B18B was delivered in October 1945. B 18B was as much an attack aircraft as a conventional bomber. The bomb load was increased to 1.500 kg and the advanced bomb-sight BT9, developed by SAAB, was installed. After a time the B 18B was equipped with attack rockets and new tactics were developed. The crew was now reduced to two, pilot and navigator. Fixed armaments consisted of two 13 mm automatic cannons. In 1949, the aircraft was fitted with ejection seats. 120 aircraft of this version were manufactured.


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In the times of depressions in the thirties, all measures for generating employment were welcome by the Parliament. When AB Flygindustri (Afi) at Limhamn - the Swedish subsidiary of Junkers Flugzeugwerke - proposed that five ambulance aircraft should be manufactured as a relief work, they got a positive response. However, Government grant and private donations were just enough for the manufacturing of three aircraft.

The first of the three was ordered by the Swedish Red Cross in 1933. The aircraft was of the type Junkers W 33 and designated Trp 2. The ambulance aircraft, although flown and maintained by the Air Force, were not given ordinary Air Force numbers. Instead, the three earlier Trp 1s were given the "Ambulance Numbers" 1-3. The first Trp 2 got consequently the number "4". The aircraft was powered with a Junkers L5 engine of 310 hp. It was based at Wing F 4 at Frösön/Östersund and operated in isolated and remote areas in the northern Sweden.

The flying ambulances Nos. "5" and "6" were delivered in 1934-1935. They were of the variant Junkers W 34, which had a more powerful engine – a 600 hp Bristol Mercury VI – than the W 33. The designation was modified to Trp 2A (changed in 1940 to Tp 2A). The first Trp 2 – "Ambulance Number "4" was upgraded in 1935 to W 34 standard, but unfortunately it crashed 1938 with the loss of five lives. "Number 5" was based at Wing F 2 at Hägernäs and was mostly used for ambulance transports in the archipelago outside Stockholm. "Number 6" flew for many years in the north. 1935-1941 it was based at the Fortress of Boden and 1941-1953 transferred to F 4 at Frösön. The latter aircraft was the first to be painted orange according to the new regulations for ambulance aircraft of 1947. It also got a regular Air Force squadron code – red W.


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The career of the S 12 as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft in Sweden was short - hardly three years. The Heinkel He 114 had been test flown at Warnemünde in 1938 by the later General Nils Söderberg and the Heinkel Company offered the aircraft to a favourable price. In 1935, the German Reichsluftfahrtsministerium (RLM) wanted a more advanced successor for the Heinkel He 60 floatplane. Three aircraft builders were contracted to develop the new sea and coast reconnaissance aircraft. Arado designed the Ar 95, Focke-Wulf the Fw 62 and Heinkel the He 114. RLM preferred the He 114.

The He 114 was an unusual aircraft. It was a biplane, but with the lower wing of a very short span and an elliptical leading-edge platform. This was a compromise between the good flying characteristics of a biplane and the low air resistance of a monoplane. The top wing was fixed to the fuselage with N-struts and the interplane bracing consisted of angled Y-struts. The aircraft had two floats and had accommodation for a pilot and a gunner/observer. The cockpit for the latter was facing rearwards. The He 114 showed poor water and flying characteristics during the trials in 1936. Attempts to solve the problems were of course made, but the aircraft still behaved badly at take-off and landing in heavy sea. Due to these shortcomings, the type was not considered as strategically important and was consequently cleared for export. The variant sold to Sweden was designated He 114B-1.

In November 1939, the Swedish Air Force ordered twelve He 114A. The aircraft got the Swedish designation S 12 (S for Spaning = Reconnaissance). Further 27 aircraft were purchased some months later. After the German invasion of Denmark and Norway in April 1940, the deliveries were stopped. The 39 He 114s intended for Sweden were taken over by the Luftwaffe. After negotiations, twelve used and dismantled aircraft were delivered to CVV (the Workshops of the Air Force at Västerås). The aircraft needed a complete overhaul before they could be taken into service. The S 12s were provided to the 2nd Squadron at Wing F 2 at Hägernäs and were as soon as possible used in the neutrality guard along the coast. The S 12 had a BMW 132 K engine, delivering 830 hp. It was armed with one fixed and one moveable 7,9 mm machine-gun. After F 2 had got the new SAAB S 17BS maritime reconnaissance aircraft, the S 12 was mostly used for training. In 1945, the remaining six S 12s were rebuilt as target tugs.


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In June 1937, the American manufacturer Republic-Seversky got an order from the USAAF on a new fighter, designated P-35. A special export version was also built, known as the Republic EP-1 (EP = Export Pursuit). It had a stronger engine (1065 hp Twin Wasp) and was more heavily armed (two 7,9 mm machine guns and two 13,2 automatic cannons) than the P-35. Sweden ordered 120 of this aircraft of this kind just at the outbreak of WWII. In consequence of the acts of war in Scandinavia 1940, only 60 of the aircraft, after great problems, reached Sweden. The remaining were embargoed by USA.

20 EP-1's were shipped via Norwegian ports and reached Sweden just before the German occupation of Norway in April 1940. The chartered merchant ships loaded with the remaining aircraft had to be re-directed to the Finnish port of Petsamo at the Arctic Sea. But after the Winter War with the Soviet Union, the north-east of Finland was a devastated land. Sweden has every reason to be grateful that Finland, that under the conduct of the well-known General Talvela, repaired the road from Petsamo southwards, including a large number destroyed "Russian bridges". After great efforts, a Swedish truck column managed to transport all the remaining 40 aircraft to Haparanda. From there, they were transported by rail to Malmen, where they were assembled. In June 1940 had all sixty aircraft, with the designation J 9, begun their service in the Air Force. The J 9's did a valuable duty during the neutrality watch as successors to the obsolete J 8 Gloster Gladiator.


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When the WWII broke out in 1939, the Swedish Air Force had only one Wing equipped with fighters. It was F 8 at Barkarby, intended for the defence of Stockholm. In February 1940, it was decided to establish further two Fighter Wings, F 9 near Gothenburg and F 10 in the south of Sweden. Two more Fighter Wings were established during the WWII, F 13 at Norrköping and F 16 at Uppsala. New fighter aircraft became of highest priority.

Obtaining fighter aircraft from abroad was impossible due to the war situation. SAAB, the Swedish Aeroplane Company, was in full production, but was concentrated on the production of bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. The lack of aluminium and other strategic materials was great, and SAAB needed more than they could get. In this situation, the clever aircraft engineer and designer Bo Lundberg got the task to design a fighter aircraft. Only domestic materials would be used. The new design would consist of a frame of steel tubing, strengthened by a skin of birch plywood panels. The only engine available was the STW C-3 "Swedish Twin Wasp". This was a Swedish copy, built without license, of the Pratt Whitney Twin Wasp of 1065 hp.

An advantage was that the Air Force's central workshops had a long experience of working with steel and wood. Engineers and draughtsmen would be recruited from the Air Administration and other sources outside SAAB. The Air Force workshops in Stockholm (FFVS) was to assemble the aircraft, mostly from parts made by more than 500 sub-contractors all around Sweden. The work advanced rapidly, and in September 1942, the first J 22 took to the sky. Serial production began in the summer of 1943. The J 22 was built in two different versions, the J 22A armed with two 7,9 mm machine-guns and two 13,2 mm automatic cannons, and J 22B armed with four automatic cannons. 120 J 22A and 78 J 22B were produced.


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In 1919 Sweden was visited by four Italian marine aviators - Count di Robilant, Lieutenant Maddalena, Sergeant Minchiotti and Sergeant Longo. To make the Swedish military authorities interested in the Italian aviation industry, two small hydroplanes of was presented from the Italian state to Sweden . The design of the two types was rather similar; biplanes with pushing propeller and engine mounted between the wings. The aircraft were handed over at a ceremony the 9th of November by the Italian navy attaché Captain Count Gravina to the Swedish representative Captain TWM Lübeck.

One of the hydroplanes was a Macchi M.8. It was a single-seater, intended as a fighter aircraft. However, like all other Swedish Navy aircraft from this era, it was never fitted with any armaments. The engine was a 180 hp Franco Tosi, which showed to be pretty undependable. The aircraft was given the Navy number 41. Due to the engine problems, the Macchi was written off in 1921.


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