FFVS J 22

sweden flag Sweden (1943)
Fighter Plane – 198 Built

FFVS J 22B at the Flygvapnet Museum
FFVS J 22B at the Flygvapnet Museum

The FFVS (Kungliga Flygförvaltningens Flygverkstad i Stockholm/Royal Air Administration Aircraft Factory in Stockholm) J 22 was a small light fighter airplane, and an exception to the mostly Saab-built airplanes, which were the ones equipping the Flygvapnet the most. But like those made by Saab during WWII and the early Cold War, this aircraft is a product of the defence needs that the war was imposing upon the Scandinavian nation. Although not so renown as its colleagues, this fighter proved to be a feat of Swedish capacities during dire times and tight resources, compensating its comparatively small size with good firepower and good performance. Of course, and like all of Swedish-made (and imported) air assets, it was purposed with giving Sweden with tools enough to defend its territorial and airspace integrity and security, let alone its neutrality. This under a locally built armament programme while facing restrictions to foreign advanced aviation technology.

A single-seat, single-engine airplane. Its design is conventional, yet the wings are placed further bow of the airframe, with a trapezoid shape. The nose is very similar to those of the American-made fighters, with a wide and cylindrical shape due to the shape of the engine. The cockpit was also placed at the bow section of the fighter, yet slightly aft the leading edge of the wing. The canopy was a bird-canopy design. The canopy hinged to the right side.

The J 22 was powered by a SFA STWC-3G 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine of 1065 hp, which was an unlicensed version of the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine. A three propeller-blade composed the other propulsion element of the aircraft. The engine-propeller combination allowed the J 22 to yield speeds up to 575 km/h (360 mph), being this speed aimed to make the fighter comparable to the Messerschmitt Me109 and Supermarine Spitfire. The first version of the fighter (J 22A/J 22-1) was armed with a set of 2 X 7,9mm and 2 X 13,2mm light and heavy machine guns. The second version (J 22B/J 22-2) was armed with a set of 4 X 13,2mm heavy machine guns. As it not carried bombs or rockets as secondary weapons like most fighter designs of those days, it was a 100%-designed fighter.

The J 22 was developed aiming at providing Sweden with an air asset enough for it to defend its airspace, by providing the Flygvapen with a rather modern fighter. But it was also aiming at producing a new aircraft through a company established solely for this purpose, as Saab was already busy producing the Saab 17 and Saab 18 bombers. in addition, it was purposed with replacing many of the outdated fighter assets the nation had by the beginning of the war. Development began in 1940, with Bo Lundberg as both head of design and head of the newly established company (FFVS). Lundberg was already having experience as head of Swedish Air Commission USA, and as chief designer of Götaverken’s aircraft division that designed the GP 8 bomber and the cancelled GP 9 fighter. He was commissioned with designing a new fighter required to use the STWC-3G (Pratt & Whitney R-1830) engine, being small and light in size and weight, and interestingly, to be made of parts manufactured by a large number of subcontractors. The J 22 development, manufacturing and testing took place at the workshop of Flygtekniska Försöksansalten (FFA) near the Bromma airport. Both prototypes crashed during testing, due to pilot’s oxygen device and engine failures. The J 22 first flight took place in 1942

The J 22 entered in with the Flygvapnet in 1943, remaining in that until 1952, year of its retirement, with 198 fighters built from 1942 to 1946. During its service, it was well received by the pilots, thanks to its good manoeuvrability and responsive controls, capable of giving a fight to the Mustangs P-51 at heights up to 5000 meters (16,000 fts). It did not have stall problems at turns or straight forward course, and the second version (J 22B/J 22-2) was considered the best in terms of firepower. Moreover, the simple systems facilitated maintenance and service. The J 22 was reportedly comparable to the early versions of the Supermarine Spitfire and of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Three J 22 are preserved as static displays in museums.

Design

FFVS J 22A at an airshow circa 1990
FFVS J 22A at an airshow circa 1990

The design of the J 22 is a conventional one, being a small and lightweight airplane, whose shape is very similar to most US airplanes of the era. The fighter is a cantilever mid-wing design, with its structure being a mixed steel tube and wood construction (plywood) one. In fact, the tubular-steel framework and fuselage were having coverings of moulded plywood panels. The only drawback of the design was that forward visibility was poor.

The J22 wing has the average shape of most WWII-era fighters, a trapezoid shape. It was located slightly towards the bow of the airplane, containing the fighter’s guns and the fuel tanks. In addition, the air intakes were placed at the roots of the wings. The aft section of the airplane contained the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, with the rudder dominating most of the tail, while and as a result, the horizontal stabilizers were placed before the rudder. The landing gear, in turn, was also of classic configuration – two ‘legs’ with the wheel and a tailwheel – being also retractable and rotating, very similar to the Vought-Chance Corsair F4U. The only problem with the tailwheel was that, if left unlocked and able to swivel, it could result in ground-loops. Interestingly, the landing gear was designed to accept skies, that were never installed as snow-clearance service of the runways was improved.

The engine was a SFA STWC-3G 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine of 1065 hp, an unlicensed copy of the American-made Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine, allowing speeds of up to 575 km/h (360 mph). given the shape of the engine, the nose has the characteristic cylindrical shape of the American homologues. The propelling system was comprised of a three-blade license-built Hamilton standard propeller connected to the engine. Alongside speed, the J 22 was deemed a manoeuvrable and easy to control fighter with good performance especially at low altitudes. Furthermore, it had no stalling problems but the tendency to flip over its back if pulling hard when turning. It was considered capable to outperform the P-51 Mustangs, and be equal to the early versions of the Zero and the Spitfire. The armament had different configurations on the two main versions: The J 22A (J 22-1) was armed with 2 X 7,9mm and 2 X 13,2mm machine guns. The J 22B (J 22-2) was armed with 4 X 13,2mm machine guns. In both cases, the armament was placed at the wings. No secondary weapons were carried.

The canopy was of a bird-cage type, which hinged to the right to allow the pilot to enter and exit the airplane, with the windshield made of 6mm laminated Gremax or acrylic, and the center part being thickened with 60mm for ballistic protection. The gunsight was a fixed reflex sight.

Noteworthy to point out, that 500 hundred contractors produced 12000 of the 17000 total parts of the J 22.

A war-time solution for a non-belligerent nation

ffvs-museum-1The J 22 is also a product of the need to defend the airspace and the neutrality of Sweden, as modern air assets were required to meet this objective. By the beginning of WWII, Sweden was having 60 Seversky P-35 (of the 120 ordered), 60 Italian-made Reggiane 2000 and 72 Fiat CR. 42 biplanes – bought as a temporary measure – and old Gloster Gladiator fighters. As Sweden did never receive the remaining 60 P-35 and 144 Vultee P-66 Vanguard it ordered from the US, due to the embargo imposed to any arms delivered to any country but the United Kingdom after the invasion of Norway by Germany, in 1940.

As a result, Sweden bought the abovementioned Italian fighters to provide the Flygvapnet with some air assets, but it was deemed necessary to introduce up-to-date fighters. Initially, Sweden considered to buy additional fighters from abroad, such as the Finnish VL Mysky, the Soviet Polikarkov I-16 and even the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero. But these options were having problems, such as not bing enough or being impossible to transport into Sweden despite being available, s it was the case of the Zero.

As a result, the FFVS was established, as Saab was already concentrating on the fabrication and development of bombers and fighters, with the sole purpose of developing and manufacturing a new lightweight fighter that would provide the Flygvapnet the needed modern air assets to keeps its neutrality in a world at war. Consequently, it replaced the Gladiator, the Severski, and Reggiane and Fiat fighters while other air asserts were received – like the Mustang P-51 – and the Saab J 21 was ready to enter into service.

The fast and small Viking warrior of the skies

Although the J 22 was a very small and lightweight fighter, it was a very capable one, proving itself to be able to undertake its purposed task: defend the Swedish airspace and neutrality. The secret of its good performance was its engine and structure. It was among the fast fighters the Flygvapnet had back then, reaching speeds of 575 Km/h (360 mph). It was also a manoeuvrable fighter, with a fast turning rate – it was even capable of getting the Mustang in the gunsight by out-turning It – with responsive controls. The altitude where it tended to perform the best was at low altitudes, with the performance decreasing at higher altitudes. Stall problems where rather absent, and it was an airplane easy to maintain and service by land maintenance crews.

Variants of the FFVS J 22

  • FFVS J 22A - 22185
    FFVS J 22A – 22185
  • J 22A (J 22-1) – First production series armed with 2 X ,9 mm M/39A (Browning M2) machine guns and 2 X 13,2 mm heavy machine guns. Operated until 1952. 143 delivered.
  • FFVS J 22B - 22280 Side Profile View
    FFVS J 22B – 22280
  • J 22B (J 22-2) – Second production series armed with 4 X 13,2 mm M/39A (Browning M2) heavy machine guns. 55 delivered.
  • S 22 (J 22-3) – Reconnaissance version (the S stands for spaning, or ‘reconnaissance’ in Swedish), equipped with a vertically mounted camera. Developed from J 22A (J 22-1) airframes in 1946, refitted as fighters in 1947. Operated until 1952. 9 airframes modified and refitted.

Operators

  • Sweden – The Flygvapnet operated the J 22 during the last half of WWII, being also in service during the earlier days of the Cold War, as it was retired until 1952. A total of 198 airframes were in service, being 143 of the J 22A version, 55 of the J 22B version and 9 airframes of the first version modified to produce the S 22 version, which served for a very short period of time as reconnaissance airplane. In 1945 all the J 22 were re-designated as J 22-1 for the first version, J 22-2 for the second version, and J 22-3 for the third version. These last airplanes were re-conditioned a year later as fighters. Three J 22 remain today as museum exhibitions in Sweden. It served with seven squadrons throughout its career: F3 Malmen; F8 Bakarby; F9 Säve; F10 Barkråka; F13 Bråvalla; F16 Uppsala; and F18 Tullinge. The S22 (J 22-3) served only in the F3 Malmen squadron.

 

 

J 22 Specifications

Wingspan  10 m / 32 ft 10 in
Length  7,80 m / 25 ft 7 in
Height  3,60 m / 11 ft 10 in
Wing Area  16 m² / 172,16 ft²
Engine  1 SFA STWC-3G (Pratt & Whitney R-1830) 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine of 1065 hp
Maximum Take-Off Weight  2835 Kg / 6,250 lb
Empty Weight  2020 kg / 4,445 lb
Loaded Weight  2835 kg / 6,240 lb
Maximum Speed  575 km/h / 360 mph
Range  1270 Km / 790 miles
Maximum Service Ceiling  9300 m /30,500 ft
Crew 1 (pilot)
Armament
  • 2 X 7,9 mm M/39A (Browning M2) machine guns and 2 X 13,2 mm heavy machine guns located at the wings (J 22-1).
  • 4 X 13,2 mm M/39A (Browning M2) heavy machine guns located at the wings (J 22-2).

 

Gallery

FFVS J 22A - 22185
FFVS J 22A – 22185
FFVS J 22B - 22280 Side Profile View
FFVS J 22B – 22280

 

FFVS J 22B at the Flygvapnet Museum
FFVS J 22B at the Flygvapnet Museum
FFVS J 22A at an airshow circa 1990
FFVS J 22A at an airshow circa 1990

ffvs-museum-1



 

Sources

Aviastar.org. (n.d.). FFVS J22. 1942. Aviastar.org.Frederiksson, U. (2002). Saab J 21/A 21/A 21R. x-plane.orgFridsell, M., & Waligorski, M. (2002). FFVS J 22 in Detail. IPMS StockholmGoebel, G. (2014). The SAAB J 21 & J 21R. Air Vectors.Henriksson, L. (2010). J 22 – FFVS J 22 (1943-1952). Avrosys.Hertze, S (2015). J22, J22A, J22B, S22-3, FFVS 22 Jaktflygplan, Spaningsflygplan. Arboga Elektronikhistoriska Förening.J 22 Memorial Flight. (2016). J 22 History. J 22 Memorial Flight.Lindqvist, R. (2013). J 22, FFVS J 22. Flygvapenmuseum.Palten, K. (2016). FFVS J 22. Flugzeuginfo.net.FFVS 22. (2016, June 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.,Stenberg, D. (1976).Flygvapen 1926-76, FlygvapenNytt, (3) 8-20Söderblom, B., Rassmusen, R., Söderberg, G. (n.d.). Flygplanrevy, (12 – 17)., Images: FFVS Museum 1, FFVS Museum 2 by Alan Wilson / CC BY-SA 2.0, FFVS Taxiway by Towpilot / CC BY-SA 3.0Side Profile Views by Ed Jackson – Artbyedo.com

 

About Mario H Zorro

Currently an independent researcher. Studies in Political Science with a minor degree in Philosophy. Master in Public Policy. Interests in History, International Relations and Security with a strong passion for battletanks and airplanes. Mario blogs at .

2 thoughts on “FFVS J 22

  1. Hi Mario, Do you know if the J22, or any other Swedish aircraft, saw any action, or encountered. or patrolled against any enemy aircraft? Thanks from Josh.

    1. Josh, hi

      Thank you very much for your question, which is very interesting.

      Given the neutral position of Sweden, the Air Force especially became very important for deterrence and maintaining such policy, let alone the integral territory, hence patrolling of the skies was important. Yet it is reported that violation of the Swedish airspace by both sides was a common occurrence, mostly during the invasion of Norway: the anti-air defence seems to have dealt mostly with the intruders, considering that Sweden reportedly lacked other electronics for air defence until 1944, and using mainly trains fitted with AA weaponry.

      Yet patrols of the borders were especially executed during World War II and the Cold War.

      Now, the FFVS J 22 has no registered air encounters with either Axis or Allied aircraft. Yet other air assets and parts of the Swedish Air Force did have a direct involvement in either smaller conflicts within the War. The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union saw the participation of 16 Swedish air assets (12 Gloster Gladiators and 4 Hawker Hart dive-bombers, along a single Raab-Katzenstein-26/Sk 10 that belonged once to the Swedish Air Force and never saw direct combat) under the F19 squadron, comprised by voluntaries and under Finnish Air Force command.

      Now, during the Cold War, there were many direct encounters with Soviet Aircraft in the early years, and also with other Western air assets, as interception and patrolling was important – again – during this period. Swedish Saab B 18 and Mustangs P51D tasked with reconnaissance missions operated at the eastern Baltic coast, encountering many time Soviet air assets while taking pictures of facilities, harbours and warships (Operation Falun). In this period, an incident took place in the Baltic, with a Swedish Air Force Douglas DC-3 signals intelligence airplane was shot down by Soviet Mig-15s, alongside a PBY Catalina search and rescue airplane, with eight casualties. In the 60’s, the Swedish Air Force took part of the intervention in the Congo Crisis under UN badge, deploying a dozen of Saab 29 Tunnan (B fighter and C reconnaissance versions) with the F22 squadron (created solely for this).

      In the last decades of the Cold War, J 35 Drakken, and later on the J 37 Viggen; the latter circled over a Soviet submarine that ran aground the Swedish archipelago so to ward-off Soviet rescue vessels and managed to get a radar-lock on a Lockheed SR-71.

      And finally, the Saab J 39 Gripen (along a C-130 Hercules) took part in the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011, providing support in enforcing the no-fly zone. These fighters have also encountered Russian air assets over the Baltic during patrol and reconnaissance missions, often scrambling for interception when the Russian airplanes get to close to the airspace.

      That is, in short, the action Swedish air assets have seen since WWII. I hope this answer is satisfying, and please, do not hesitate to ask me if you have further doubts.

      Greetings,
      Mario

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