Saab 35 Draken: the fighter built for World War III with Russia

Saab 35 Draken – Sweden had a cold war fighter to be reckoned with – With Sweden now considering joining NATO after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is illustrative to examine a Swedish Cold War aircraft that was supposed to stand up to the Soviets. Sweden was neutral at this time, but its military feared a ripple effect if the Soviets breached Swedish airspace in a threatening manner. Thus, the Saab 35 Draken fighter emerged with an interesting and innovative design.

This plane started with a unique design

In the late 1940s, Sweden wanted a fast, fast-climbing fighter-interceptor against enemy bombers. Requirements included large storage of weapons, long endurance and the ability to take off from short runways. Swedish engineers and technicians had a brilliant idea about a new design feature. They came up with a unique double delta wing design that made the Draken stand out from other fighters of its day. It was a leap forward in what was possible in combat aircraft at the time.

The double delta wing was unlike any other

Military Factory described the wing design as a “two-pair delta wing” operating in tandem. An advanced pair with a “sharper sweep angle” and the second pair with a “more gradual angle”. This was mated with a single vertical tail.

He became a fast fighter

In the 1950s, this design looked like a kite, and he kept that nickname, even though the translation for Draken is “dragon”. The wings offered speed and maneuverability as well as the ability to carry more fuel and weapons. The air intakes with elliptical openings allowed a prototype in the mid-1950s to break the sound barrier during a climb, which showed that the design of the Draken was advantageous.

Superstalls were dangerous

However, there were times when the aircraft would “super-stall” (a sudden loss of altitude due to instability) and test pilots were forced to create maneuvers that would avoid these hazards. This learning curve came at a cost. There were 179 Draken superstalls which resulted in 35 crashes that ended up killing four pilots. Since the Draken was exported to Finland, Austria and Denmark, more pilots had to be trained to avoid these treacherous altitude drops.

Saab 35: pilots had to react quickly

To finally answer the question of superstalls, pilots learned the “Cobra Maneuver,” which National Interest described as “a technically challenging aerobatic demonstration in which a rapid nose-up raise causes an aircraft to fly forward perpendicular to the ground. . As a pilot faces the sky, he momentarily turns the airframe into a huge airbrake and thus rapidly slows the aircraft.

Image: Creative Commons.

Saab 35

Image: Creative Commons

Saab 35: this fighter had stamina

651 of the aircraft were produced over the decades and it became the Swedish Air Force’s main fighter-interceptor. It was the first aircraft built in Europe to achieve MACH Two. The Draken never faced combat, but it would likely have performed well against Soviet fighters in aerial combat. It carried an array of weapons, including cannons, bombs, and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

Despite the danger of superstalls, the Draken had an excellent reputation and Austria even kept them in service until 2005, which means they flew 50 years. The original Swedish designers probably had no idea that the radical double delta wings would display so much durability.

Now as 1945 Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. EastwoodPhD, is the author of Humans, Machines and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an emerging threat expert and former US Army infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

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