This wild looking fighter jet has is the Saab-35 “Draken” which is Swedish for “The Dragon”. It’s time to learn about the land of blonde’s record setting aircraft.
First off, take a guess when this innovative design made its first flight???
Obviously, it’s kind of a trick question…just guess what decade.
Not in the 90s or 80s. Nope, way further back.
“The Dragon” first took-off in October of 1955.
It’s never-before-tried design is called a “Double Delta” wing.
The shape lends itself to a secondary nickname “The Kite”.
This new aerodynamic design gave the Saab-35 two important features as the Cold War heated up.
Sweden had no plans of “attacking” other countries. As such, the Draken’s mission was to defend if ever an invasion happened.
What’s that mean?
Simply put, it was agile enough to counter other fighter aircraft in dogfights.
But she also accomplished another feat.
The unexplored double delta wing design set a record for speed.
The Saab-35 was the first Western European aircraft to break the Supersonic speed barrier (Mach 1 = the speed of sound).
That first version didn’t just pass the Mach 1 speed of 768 mph…she buried the needle with a speed of 1,200 mph (over 1 and a half times the speed of sound).
Needless to say, traveling at One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty feet-per-second was real fast back in 1955.
Just to give you a feel for how new their design was, check-out the photo above/below.
The old black-and-white photos show the original proof of concept scaled-down version in flight…prototype took to the sky back in 1952.
Fast forward 3-years later to the operational version.
Only two other countries could keep pace with the Swedish engineers; the obvious 2 world powers: U.S.A. and the former Soviet Union.
Take a second to think about that in terms of population/$s put into planning during the Cold War.
Not only could she cruise at a high speed, it also had the ability to achieve a stellar Rate-of-Climb.
During a climb, the Draken could break the speed of sound.
Being able to quickly go strait-up was important for both intercepting enemy bombers and in the life or death dogfighting battles.
Over the years, up-dated versions the aircraft and her brilliant designers have found a way to achieve 3 max speed bench-marks:
-Mach 2.0 (over 1,534 mph)
This Kite hit a max speed of Mach 2.0 which is impressive considering the relatively small Swedish population relative to the rest of Europe.
Notice something strange on the rear of the aircraft?
Because the thruster extended back, designers added a rear landing gear.
In addition, she could deploy a chute for coming to a stop on shorter landing strips.
As for firepower???
They were fitted with duel 30mm cannons for close encounters (located in the opening on wing above the missiles).
For non-movie dogfights, they had 4 air-to-air heatseeking sidewinder missiles (final Draken version could carry 6).
If she wanted to crank-out a bunch of rockets on a jet fighter with heatseeking counter measures it had the ability to fire 75mm rockets from duel pods.
Each of the pods held 19 rockets (38 total)…and the final version could hold up to 4 pods (total of 76 rockets).
Finally, if they had to strike ground targets, they could fire 135mm rockets from duel pods that held 12 rockets each (24 total)…and the final version could hold up to 4 pods (total of 48 rockets).
With increased power in the up-dated versions, it could up the options of attack ordnances (bombs/air-to-air missiles) which kept increasing mission capabilities.
Below is full list.
Back to the speed element. Although not anywhere the speed of America’s SR-71, the Saab-35 was fast enough to conduct reconnaissance over the less heavily defended areas of the Soviet Union.
(Less defended = USSR’s newer Ground-to-Air missiles)
From the first prototype above to the final version…
A total of 651 Drakens were manufactured by Saab.
Over the years, with technological up-dates there have been six versions the aircraft and she’s been flown by multiple Air Forces:
The Swedish AF produced the aircraft from 1955-74 but the Dragon stayed in service with the Austrian AF until 2005.
That’s right, fifty years with its first-of-a-kind design.
She was both pretty damn cool looking AND more importantly, a functional fighter jet that few people know about.
ONE LAST THING:
I’ve got a ton of massive wallpaper sized photos of the Draken…why not do a Swedish Blondes VS the Dragon in HIGH-RES?
That’s my plan for tonight’s fun lil’ gallery.
Thanks guys for taking the time to give this one a read.
Saab-35 Draken…the Dragon.