The SAAB 32 Lansen

v1.0.1 / 01 jun 02 / greg goebel / public domain

* In the postwar era, SAAB of Sweden developed a series of excellent and innovative jet combat aircraft for the Flgvapnet, the Swedish air force. While the "SAAB 32 Lansen (Lance)" was not the most prominent of that series, it nonetheless served Sweden for decades as an effective combat aircraft.

[2] A32A / J32B / S32C


* After World War II, Sweden moved aggressively towards development and fielding of jet combat aircraft, introducing the tubby but capable J29 Tunnan ("Barrel") in 1948. The J29 addressed the requirement for an air-superiority fighter, but a need remained for an attack aircraft to deal with ground or naval targets. In December 1948, the Swedish Air Board initiated the development of a new jet-powered attack aircraft, designated the "P1150".

The P1150 was to armed with four 20 millimeter cannon. Internal rocket storage was considered, but abandoned in favor of external munitions carriage on underwing stores pylons. The aircraft was to be able to reach any target encroaching on Sweden's borders in an hour or less, and perform an effective attack in day or night, any weather. It was to be a tandem two-seat design, with the back seat occupied by a navigator to get the aircraft to the target area.

The P1150 was originally to be powered by the Swedish-designed STAL Dovern RM4 turbojet, but this powerplant suffered development delays, and was ultimately cancelled in 1954. The Rolls-Royce Avon RA.7 / Series 100, built under license by Svenska Flygmotor as the RM5, was used instead. The wing for the P1150, featuring a 35-degree sweepback, was validated by fitting the wing design to a SAAB Safir piston-engine trainer. This improvisation was designated the "SAAB 202".

Four P1150 prototypes were ordered, with the first flying on 3 November 1952. The machine looked something like a swept-wing Lockheed T-33. The type entered production the next year as the J32 Lansen, and broke the sound barrier on 25 October 1953 when it exceeded Mach 1 in a shallow dive.


[2] A32A / J32B / S32C

* The initial production version of the Lansen was the tandem-seat "A32A" dedicated attack variant, which entered Flygvapnet service in 1955. By 1957, twelve squadrons had been equipped with the A32A.

The A32A was armed with four Swedish-built Hispano Mark V 20 millimeter cannon fitted in the nose, with 180 rounds per gun. The gun ports were sealed by shutters that popped open automatically when the pilot disengaged the weapon safety. A pair of small plates under the nose prevented the ejected casings from ingestion by the engine intakes. The casings did strike the centerline external fuel tank, and so the nose of the fuel tank was protected by a neoprene plastic shell.

There were six stores pylons under each wing, for a total of twelve pylons. Underwing stores included unguided Bofors rockets, ranging from from 60 millimeter practice rockets to 180 millimeter anti-armor rockets, carried in pairs under each pylon for a total of 24 rockets; twelve light or four heavy bombs; or a pair of SAAB RB-04 antiship missiles. The RB-04 was a solid-fuel weapon with a canard configuration, and wide wings with wingtip fins. It was one of the first modern antiship missiles, with its own self-contained radar seeker, allowing "fire and forget" operation. However, it was not capable of sea-skimming operation. The Lansen could also carry a chaff pod to blind adversary radars.

The Lansen was fitted with SAAB ejector seats, as well as an uprated RM5A2 engine with a Swedish-designed afterburner. About a fourth of the A32As built were fitted with a French-designed PS-431/A attack radar, built in Sweden under license. A radar-equipped Lansen would lead several other Lansens in performing attacks. Similarly, in operational practice only one aircraft of a group would carry a navigator.

The Lansen was an effective strike aircraft, providing a stable platform for cannon and rocket attacks. A total of 287 A32As were delivered from 1955 through 1958, with the type remaining in service until 1978, when it was replaced by the SAAB 37 Viggen fighter.

* The A32A was followed in production by the "J32B", a tandem-seat all-weather fighter variant. The initial J32B first flew on 7 January 1957, and the type went into squadron service in July 1958.

The J32B was fitted with an uprated Avon Series 200 engine, built under license as the RM6B and also featuring a Swedish-designed afterburner. The increased airflow required for the new engine led to a slight enlargement of the jet intakes. The four 20 millimeter cannon were replaced by four British Aden 30 millimeter revolver-type cannon. The gun-port shutters were deleted, and the casings were stored rather than ejected.

   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                13 meters           42 feet 8 inches
   length                  14.7 meters         48 feet 1 inch
   height                  4.75 meters         15 feet 7 inches
   empty weight            7,440 kilograms     16,400 pounds
   max loaded weight       13,600 kilograms    30,000 pounds

   max speed at sea level  1,114 KPH           692 MPH / 602 KT
   service ceiling         15,000 meters       49,200 feet
   range with tanks        3,220 kilometers    2,000 MI / 1,740 KT
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

The J32B was guided to a target by Ericsson radar and a SAAB S6 computerized fire-control system. The pilot's control panel featured a radar gunsight display that integrated radar data with inputs from a Hughes AN/AAR-4 infrared search & track (IRST) sensor fitted under the left wing on some J32Bs. The radar gunsight provided indicators to tell the pilot when he had an optimum firing solution.

The J32B had four stores pylons, which were initially used to carry two unguided 75 millimeter rocket pods, but from 1960 these pylons were wired to also carry the Rb-324 air-to-air missile (AAM), a license-built Swedish copy of the American Sidewinder AAM. Four Sidewinders, or two Sidewinders and two rocket pods, could be carried.

At its peak, seven Flygvapnet squadrons flew the J32B. A total of 118 J32Bs were delivered from 1958 through 1960. These were the last of a total of 450 Lansens built. Most of the J32Bs were withdrawn from service in the 1970s, though a few would be modified and linger for two decades longer, as is explained in the next section.

* The third and last production version of the Lansen was the "S32C" dedicated night reconnaissance variant. The S32C was unarmed and featured a modified nose to carry cameras, with at least two different camera suites fitted during the aircraft's operational lifetime.

The S32C was basically a modification of the A32A, and was powered by the A32A's R5M engine. The S32C could carry a chaff dispenser and up to twelve British-built 75 kilogram (165 pound) photoflash bombs. It was fitted with a modified version of the A32A's radar, designated the PS-432/A, for spotting reconnaissance targets. The radar display could be photographed to record intelligence data. The S32C was also fitted with a radar warning receiver.

Initial flight of the S32C was on 26 March 1957. 44 were delivered in 1958 and 1959, with the type retired from service in 1978.



* A few variants of the Lansen were planned, but not built. A single-seat day fighter designated the "J32AD" was considered in the early 1950s as a replacement for the J29 Tunnan until the supersonic J35 Draken entered service. The J32AD would have no radar, and armament was to consist of four 20 millimeter and one 30 millimeter cannon, along with various underwing stores. The British Hawker Hunter was obtained instead, with a total of 120 Hunters serving with the Flygvapnet.

A true transonic version of the Lansen, the "J32U", was also considered, with a more powerful Rolls-Royce RA-19R engine and new wings and tail, but this variant never reached the prototype stage.

* A few J32Bs were adapted to other roles after their service as all-weather fighters. Six were modified beginning in 1972 as target tugs, and were given the designation "J32D". Three J32Bs were fitted with dual controls and used as trainers, as well as for atmospheric fallout sampling, carrying three underwing fallout sample pods.

A total of 15 J32Bs were modified starting in 1972 for the electronics countermeasures / electronic warfare role (ECM / EW), and were given the designation "J32E". The J32Es included a radar jammer and a signal-direction-finding unit, and could carry chaff dispenser pods and radar or communications jammer pods. The J32Es were used both for operational ECM / EW missions and as training platforms.

The J32E served until 1997, when the type was finally withdrawn as a cost-cutting measure. This measure left the Flygvapnet with no ECM / EW capability for several years, but that gap has now been plugged by Viggens fitted with ECM / EW pods. No Lansens remain in formal operational service, though apparently a few are still used as test and trials aircraft.



* Sources include:

Various minor details were obtained from a wide range of sources, including JANES and magazines. Many details were obtained from a fine website article written by Swedish aviation enthusiast Urban Frederiksson, an excellent source of information on all things Swedish that fly.