A tandem two-seat, single-engine transonic aircraft. Intended initially as an attack aircraft, it was later developed into fighter, reconnaissance, and ECM versions thanks to the aircraft’s size, which allowed the development of the aforementioned variants. The aircraft also had low swept back wings and similar elevators located on the tail. Developed in order to replace the WWII-era light bombers, attack and reconnaissance Saab B 18/S 18, the Saab J 21R/A 21R, and provide a ground-attack complement to the Saab J 29 Tunnan. It was also developed after Flygvapnet requested an aircraft capable of attacking anywhere along Swedish long coastline within one hour after taking off from a central location, and to be capable of operating in any weather conditions, and in both day and night.
Development of the Lansen
Lansen development began by 1946 with the project P1150, where a configuration of two engines was at first considered but latter scrapped given many accidents with foreign aircraft having such display. A Saab 91 Safir, a piston/propeller engine training light aircraft was modified by incorporating the swept back wings intended for the Lansen, in order to test the design. Its first flight took place in 1952, being a very advanced concept in both design and configuration, as it was an aircraft with the best design and quality in comparison to any other European design of the times. In fact, it is among the first designs in incorporating a radar. Another interesting fact is that the Lansen was the first aircraft to be designed upon a mathematical coordinate system, instead of blue prints. It also broke the sound barrier in 1953, as it exceeded Mach 1 while performing a shallow dive. In 1956 it entered in service with the Flygvapnet. 452 aircraft were built between 1954 and 1960, remaining in service until 1997, although three Lansen with experimental, research and test and trial tasks were still operating as of 2012.
The Lansen is designed as a swept back low-wing fighter, with a single tail and a single engine, a Volvo Svenska Flygmotor RM6A, enabling a maximum speed of 1123 km/h. The Lansen was among the first aircraft to be built specifically for attack missions. Its airframe was a sleek, streamlined and clean design, in which every line was calculated using a mathematical early computer-based design. It could sustain +12g and -8g. Its low wings had a 35° sweep and a composition of up to a 10° laminar profile, having hydraulically-boosted ailerons. One-section stall fences were installed on the wings, a pitot tube on the right wing and three hardpoints. The landing gear was of tricycle configuration.
The engine was originally intended to be the Swedish STAL Dovern RM4, but as it was not ready by the time the prototypes were completed. The Svenska Flygmotor RM6A, a Swedish version of the Rolls-Royce Avon, was the used in the Lansen. The afterburner was of Swedish design. The air intakes for the engine were located at both sides of the fuselage, forward of the wing root and cockpit.
The Lansen is among those first designs implementing onboard radar. The radar array was a PS-431/A based on the French design that worked in coordination with the anti-ship Rb04C missile, one of the first “fire and forget” missiles. As not all the squadrons were equipped with radar, and usually only one aircraft of the group would carry a navigator, the Lansen equipped with both radar and a navigator would be the leader of the group guiding the other aircraft to the target. The radar would work in tandem with a Saab S6 computerized fire-control system, a Hughes AN/AAR-4 infrared search & trach (IRST) sensor, with the radar gunsight indicating to the pilot when there would be an optimal firing solution (these systems were mostly equipped in the J32B). The S32C was equipped with a radar warning receiver, and the J 32E was equipped with jamming devices instead of the radar in the nose. All aircraft were equipped with Saab ejection seats for the crew.
The Lansen would carry a varied array of weaponry depending on mission and version. The basic weapons were 4 X 20 mm Bofors (or Aden M/55 30 mm) guns located at the nose, 2 Saab 304/Rb 04 anti-ship missiles or 12 or 24 unguided rockets (60, 63, 75, 135, 145 and 180 mm), and up to 12 iron-bombs (15, 50, 80, 120, 250, 500, 600 kg). it could also carry 4 Rb 24 AIM Sidewinder missiles, ECM pods, target towing pods, jamming equipment, cameras, and chaff dispensers.
A Versatile Advanced Aircraft and Potential Nuclear Warrior
The Lansen was a large airframe providing a versatile platform to carry a variety of different arms depending up on mission. Along with the Saab AJ 37 Viggen, the Lansen was a contender to carry nuclear weapons as a deterrent to protect the region, but ended up never being utilized in this role. It would have been interesting to see how a nuclear-armed version of the Lansen might have worked. But even if the Lansen in the end was not a nuclear warrior, it could boast of having a very advanced capability thanks to its design process, which was the first to be designed using a computer. Furthermore, it is among the first post-war designs to have incorporated its own radar, in addition to being among the first operational swept back wing designs.
- A 32A – The ground attack and maritime strike version of the Lansen, and the basic one. Armed with four Bofors 20mm guns on the nose, with a special device to deflect the empty casing from entering the air intakes. The fuel tank nose was also protected with a neoprene cover to protect from the casings impact. The aircraft could also carry one of the first “fire and forget” missiles, the anti-ship Rb04/Saab 304 missile. It could also carry bombs and rockets of varied calibres and payload. This version was intended to carry the nuclear weapons developed by Sweden, should it nuclear programme was not cancelled by the 60’s. Remained in service until 1978. 287 delivered.
- J 32B – All-weather fighter version, mainly used in adverse climate conditions and at night. Armed with four 30mm Aden cannons with the casing being retained, sparing the protective measure implemented on the J 32A. 4 Air to air Rb24/ AIM 9 Sidewinder missiles and 75 m/57 mm rockets were also part of this version’s armament, all being fired by radar sighting. There was a radar display for the pilot and not exclusively for the navigator, allowing targeting without visual thanks to the fitted IR sensor (AN/AAR-4) on the wing. Remained in service until 1973. 118 delivered.
- S 32C – Maritime surveillance and photo reconnaissance version. Fitted with a PS-432/A radar with longer instrumented range, and four cameras (SKa 17 and SKa 18), latter, SKa 23, SKa 15 and Jugner FL S2 cameras were fitted. All the cameras were for low, high and night takes. Twelve additional British 75 kg photo flash bombs were also used, mainly on the wings. Chaff dispensers and RWR gear – to give visual and aerial warning – were installed. In service until 1978. 44-45 delivered.
- J 32D – Target towing version modified from six J 32B airframes. Remained in service until 1997. 6 delivered.
- J 32E – ECM version from modified 15 J 32B. Also tasked with ECM warfare and ECM training. The radar was replaced by a G24 radar-jamming device against ship and land-based radars, and two chaff dispenser were incorporated. It also carried 120kg dummy bombs. Remained in service until 1997. 15 delivered.
- J 32AD – A proposed daytime fighter version purposed to replace the J29 Tunnan. It would have been a single seat fighter with four 20 mm guns and a fifth 30 mm gun, all located on the nose. It would have been armed also with rockets and missile but lacking a radar. Never developed and instead 120 Hawker Hunters entered in service, filling the gap between the J 29 Tunnan and the J 35 Draken.
- J 32U – Another proposed fighter version with enhanced performance than the J 32B, with a Rolls-Royce RA 19R engine, a supplementary rocket engine, a thinner wing with 40° of sweepback, and a flying tail. Political decisions and considerations of replacing the Lansen with other types of aircraft after 8 years of service prevented this development to see the light.
- Sweden – The Flygvapnet was the only operator of the Lansen, having this aircraft in service from 1956 to 1997. 118 airframes where of the J 32A version; 118 airframes where of the J 32B version – 6 were modified to the J 32D and other 15 were modified to the J 32E versions – and 44-45 airframes where of the S 32C version. 452 J 32 Lansen served in total with the Flygvapnet until 1997. Three Lansen remained in service by 2012 with experimental and research purposes.
|Wingspan||13 m / 42 ft 7 in|
|Length||14.94 m / 49 ft 0 in|
|Height||4.65 m / 15 ft 3 in|
|Wing Area||37 m² / 529,8 ft²|
|Engine||1 Svenska Flygmotor (Rolls-Royce Avon) turbofan RM6A|
|Maximum Take-Off Weight||13,600 Kg / 29,982 lb|
|Empty Weight||7,438 kg / 16,397 lb|
|Loaded Weight||13,529 kg / 35,273 lb|
|Maximum Speed||1,125 km/h / 699 mph|
|Range||3,200 Km / 1,988 miles|
|Maximum Service Ceiling||16,000 m /52,493 ft|
|Climb Rate||60 m/s (11,811 ft/min)|
|Crew||2 (pilot & navigator)|
Aguilera, R. D. (2015). Saab 32 Lansen, Bergmans, W. (2011). J32 Lansen, Saab, Fortier, R (1997). Photo Essay Collection. Shield and Sword: Fighter Aircraft Development in the 1950s. Ottawa, Canada: National Aviation Museum., Globalsecurity.org (2012). Swedish Nuclear Weapons., Goebel, G (n.d.) The Saab 29 Tunnan & Saab 32 Lansen., Jackson, R. (2010). 101 Great Fighters. New York, NY: Rosen Publishing., Saab (2015). Saab 32 Lansen., Saab (n.d.) 1950’s., Sharpe, M (2001). Jets de Ataque y Defensa [Attack and Interceptor Jets, Macarena Rojo, trans.]. Madrid, Spain: Editorial LIBSA, WarbirdsUpdate (2013). The Swedish Air Force Historic Flight from Within the Cockpit. Warbirds News., Saab 32 Lansen. (2016, June 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia., X-Plane.org (2008). Dispersed Basing. X-Plane.org. Images: Saab Lansen 32606 by MrTMan / CC BY-SA 2.0, Saab Lansen 32512, Lansen & Hunter by Alan Wilson / CC BY-SA 2.0, Saab J32E Lansen by Leonid Kruzhkov / CC BY-ND 2.0, RB-04 Anti-Ship Missile by AdurianJ / CC BY 2.0, Plane Profile Views by Ed Jackson