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Saab 32 Lansen

Saab 32 Lansen
A Saab J 32B at Kristianstad Airshow in 2006
Role Attack aircraft, Fighter aircraft, Reconnaissance aircraft
Manufacturer SAAB
First flight 3 November 1952
Introduction 1956
Retired 1997
Primary user Swedish Air Force
Produced 1954-1960[1]
Number built 450[1][2]

The Saab 32 Lansen (English: Lance[Nb 1][3]) was a two-seat, transonic military aircraft designed and manufactured by SAAB from 1955 to 1960 for the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet). Three principal variants of the Lansen were built for attack (A 32A), fighter (J 32B), and reconnaissance (S 32C). During its long operational life, the Saab 32 also served as an electronic warfare platform and target-tug aircraft.


  • Development 1
  • Design 2
  • Operational history 3
  • Variants 4
  • Operators 5
  • Specifications (J 32B) 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
    • References 8.1
    • Bibliography 8.2
  • External links 9


In 1948, the Saab Company was approached by the Swedish Government with a request to investigate the development of a turbojet-powered strike aircraft to replace a series of 1940s vintage attack, reconnaissance and night-fighter aircraft then in the Flygvapnet: the Saab B 18/S 18, J 21R/A 21R and J 30 (de Havilland Mosquito). Out of several differing design studies performed, including a twin-engine aircraft intended to be powered by a pair of de Havilland Ghost turbojet engines, Saab settled on a single-engine design, which was initially designated the P1150.[4]

The requirements laid out by the Swedish Air Force for the P1150 were demanding: it had to be able to attack anywhere along Sweden's 2 ,000 km (1 ,245 miles) of coastline within one hour of launch from a central location. It had to be capable of being launched in any weather conditions and at day or night.[4] The P1150 would break new grounds for the Swedish Air Force, being their first two-seat jet aircraft, and the first to carry a built-in search radar.[5]

Saab had initially envisaged powering the P1150 with the indigenously produced STAL Dovern engine, however the timescale and technical difficulties of the Dovern led to this engine being replaced by the license-built Rolls-Royce Avon Series 100 turbojet engine instead.[4] The single Avon engine provided the Saab A 32A with a thrust to weight ratio of about 0.3, and enabled the aircraft to be roughly 10,000lb heavier than the twin engine Saab 18 it replaced; the later-produced J 32B interceptor and S 32C reconnaissance variants received the upgraded and significantly more powerful RM6A Avon engine instead.[6] On 3 November 1952, the first Saab 32 prototype conducted its first flight.[4]

The design of the prototypes had initially featured both Fowler flaps and a leading edge slot; this slot was discarded as unnecessary after trials with the prototypes and never appeared on subsequent production aircraft. Triangular fences were added near the wing roots during flight testing in order to improve airflow when the aircraft was being flown at a high angle of attack.[7] A small batch of P1150 prototypes completed design and evaluation trials with series production of the newly designated Saab 32 Lansen beginning in 1953.


A J 32E Lansen on static display

The Saab 32 Lansen had a simple general arrangement, being one of the first aircraft in the world to be specifically developed to fly attack missions.[4] From the outset, it was designed to provide good support for the installation of electronic warfare and weapons systems. The aircraft could be armed with a total of four 20 mm cannon, as well as wing pylons for various calibers of rockets and assorted bombs. The J 32 variant carried four 30 mm ADEN cannons while the A 32 ("A" stands for attack) had an armament of four 20 mm Bofors m/49 cannon hidden under flaps in the nose.[1]

The Lansen's nose also contained the Ericsson mapping and navigation radar, the forward antenna of which was housed in a large blister fairing underneath the fuselage, directly forward of the main landing gear; this radar worked in conjunction with the Rb 04C anti-ship missile, one of the earliest cruise missiles in western service. The attack variant of the Lansen could carry up to two RB04 missiles, one underneath each wing.[8][Nb 2] On the reconnaissance variant of the Lansen, up to six cameras can be installed in the place of the four cannon,[Nb 3] the camera bodies required the installation of chin blisters on the upper fuselage of the nose; the Lansen could also carry up to 12 M62 flash bombs for night photography.[10]

The fuselage of the Lansen was produced with a sleek, streamlined airframe with clean lines. The Lansen was the first aircraft on which every mould line had been a result of mathematical calculation, made possible via an early application of computer technology.[11] The wing had a 10 per cent laminar profile and a 35° sweep. hydraulically-boosted ailerons and large Fowler flaps on the wings comprised the main flight control surfaces, as did the hydraulically-assisted elevators of the powered tailplane; a total of four airbrakes were also present on the sides of the rear fuselage.[7] The Lansen had a tricycle undercarriage with a single wheel on all of the landing gear.[12] Other wing features include one-section stall fences on the outer-thirds of the wing, a pitot tube on the right wingtip, and three underwing hardpoints.[12] To test the 35° sweepback design of the Lansen's wing, a half-scale wing was mounted on a Saab Safir, designated Saab 202 Safir.

The Lansen was powered by an afterburning Svenska Flygmotor RM5 turbojet engine, which was a license-produced Rolls-Royce Avon RA.3/Mk.109 engine manufactured by Svenska Flygmotor.[13] For easy maintenance access to the engine, the aircraft's entire aft fuselage was detachable.[7] The air intakes for the engine were located just forwards and above the wing. The two-man pilot and navigator crew were contained in a pressurised cockpit equipped with a single-piece clamshell canopy; a second windscreen separates the cockpit in between the pilot and navigator to protect the latter in case of inadvertent jettisoning of the canopy.[7][12]

Operational history

On 25 October 1953, a J 32 Lansen attained a Mach  number of at least 1.12 while in a shallow dive, exceeding the sound barrier.[7] In December 1955, deliveries of the A 32A attack variant formally commenced, allowing the swift retirement of the last piston-powered B 18 bomber from Swedish service shortly thereafter. According to Bill Gunston and Peter Gilchrist, the A 32A provided to be extremely effective, both in terms of serviceability and the accuracy of its armaments.[1] Between 1958 and 1960, a total of 54 S32 C reconnaissance aircraft were manufactured.[9] The last Lansen to be built was delivered to the Flygvapnet on 2 May 1960.[1]

A J 32B Lansen at Växjö Air Show 2012. This aircraft is the last to be built

One intended use for the A 32A was as an aerial delivery system for nuclears or chemical weapons. During the 1950s and 1960s, Sweden had operated a nuclear weapons program, however no such weapons were ever produced by Sweden.[14]

Accidents destroyed a third of all Lansens during 25 years of service, killing 100 crew along with 7 civilians in Vikbo.[15] The accidents were due to a combination of technical faults, the aircraft not being ready for service, and training deficiencies in regards to flying at night and in adverse weather. In the 1960 Vikbo crash, pilot Uno Magnusson's A 32A suffered an engine outage, Magnusson ejected before it crashed into a farmhouse, killing all seven civilian occupants.[15] The crash was due to a known fault which occurred when a drop tank was fitted; the J32 B had been forbidden from using the drop tank.[15] Replacement parts to correct the fault were available at the base but had not yet been fitted. The crash's causes were suppressed from the public by the Flygvapnet press office; as the victims were civilians, they were not included in official accident statistics.[15]

The A 32 Lansen was Sweden's last purpose-built attack aircraft. The replacement of the A 32A formally began in June 1971, the more advanced Saab 37 Viggen being slowly used to take over its attack responsibilities.[Nb 4] As the type was gradually being replaced by more modern types, the Saab 32 continued to be operated into the late 1990s as target tugs and electronic warfare platforms.[1] By 2010, at least two Lansens were still operational, having the sole task of taking high altitude air samples for research purposes in collaboration with the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority; one of these collected volcanic ash samples in mid 2010.[17]


A 32A Lansen from F 17, 1960
A Saab J 32B Lansen at Flygfest 2011, Orebro, Sweden
A 32A
Ground-attack and maritime-strike version. 287 aircraft built between 1955 and 1957,[18] retired in 1978. Armed with four 20 mm Bofors nose guns (license-built Hispano Mk V guns) and could carry two SAAB 304 missiles or unguided rocket pods.
J 32B
All-weather fighter version initially operated only for bad weather / night fighter duties. Two prototypes and 118 production aircraft built[18] between 1958 and 1960, retired in 1973. Armed with four 30 mm ADEN guns, Rb 24 missiles (license-built AIM-9 Sidewinder), or 75 mm unguided rocket pods. J 32B was powered by stronger Svenska Flygmotor RM 6A (Rolls-Royce Avon Mk 47A) engine.
S 32C
Specialized maritime and photo reconnaissance version developed from A 32A. 45 aircraft built[18] between 1958 and 1959, retired in 1978. Equipped with PS-432/A radar with extended range and with four cameras - two SKa 17 and two SKa 18.
J 32D
Target tug version. Six J 32B were modified,[18] retired in 1997.
J 32E
ECM (electronic warfare / electronic countermeasures) version used also for ECM training. Fourteen J 32B were modified,[18] retired in 1997. Aircraft was equipped with jamming system G 24 in one of three versions (for L, S or C bands) used for jamming ground and naval radars. Additionally Adrian (for S and C bands) and Petrus (for X band) pods were used for jamming aerial radars.
J 32AD
Project of day fighter version from 1953 as interim solution between the J 29 Tunnan and J 35 Draken, designated J 32AD ("D" stands for Dag [day]). Aircraft was lighter, without radar and armed with four 20 mm and one 30 mm guns in nose and different missiles. None built, 120 Hawker Hunter fighters bought instead.
J 32U
Project of fighter version from 1954 ("U" stands for utveckling [development]) with much better performance than J 32B. Aircraft was equipped with more powerful Rolls-Royce RA 19R engine and had improved wing design. None built.


J32E Lansen of F16, Uppsala, arriving at RAF Fairford for RIAT 94

Specifications (J 32B)

RB 04 anti ship missile under the wing on an A32 A Lansen
External video
Footage of a SAAB J32 B Lansen of the Swedish Airforce Historic Flight
Documentary on the J32 Lansen

Data from The Great Book of Fighters,[19]Combat Aircraft since 1945 [2]

General characteristics


  • 4 × 30 mm ADEN cannons 90 rounds each
  • 4 × Rb 24 air-to-air missiles
  • 4 × 75 mm air-to-air rocket pods

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ Literally "the Lance", as the names of Swedish combat aircraft, like Viggen or Draken, are in the definite form.
  2. ^ The RB 04 missile would use the Lansen's radar for target lock-on and for the missile's initial programming; after launch it would use its own active terminal homing with no further reliance on the aircraft's radar.[1]
  3. ^ The initial camera configuration included two SKa 17 cameras with 5.1 inch lenses and two SKa 18 with 36.2 inch lenses. In 1962, the configuration was updated to a single SKa 15 camera with a 3.9 inch lense, three SKa 16 cameras with 3.9 inch lenses, and two Ska 23 cameras with 23.6 inch lenses.[9]
  4. ^ Since the early 1960s, the Swedish Air Force had developed the Viggen as the specified successor to the Lansen in the attack role.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gunston and Gilchrist 1993, p. 136.
  2. ^ a b Wilson 2000, p. 122.
  3. ^ Nilsson, Axel (13 January 2012). "JAS 39 Gripen − Milestones". Projects. Swedish Defence Materiel Administration. Retrieved 12 February 2014. Swedish naming of aircraft 
  4. ^ a b c d e Gunston and Gilchrist 1993, p. 134.
  5. ^ Wagner 2009, p. 53.
  6. ^ Gunston and Gilchrist 1993, pp. 134-136.
  7. ^ a b c d e Gunston and Gilchrist 1993, p. 135.
  8. ^ Gunston and Gilchrist 1993, pp. 135-136.
  9. ^ a b Wagner 2009, p. 55.
  10. ^ Wagner 2009, pp. 54-55.
  11. ^ Gunston and Gilchrist 1993, pp. 134-135.
  12. ^ a b c Wagner 2009, p. 54.
  13. ^ Wagner 2009, pp. 53-54.
  14. ^ Agrell, Wilhelm. Svenska Förintelsevapen: Utvecklingen av Kemiska och Nukleära Stridsmedel 1928-1970Swedish. Lund, SV: Historiska Media, 2002. ISBN 91-89442-49-0.
  15. ^ a b c d "Haveriet" (in Svenska).  
  16. ^ "Saab 37: Sweden's New Manned Weapon System." Flight, p. 1010. 27 December 1962.
  17. ^ Alpman, Marie. "Askprovtagning görs med Lansen" Swedish. NyTeknik, 6 May 2010. Retrieved: 2 September 2010.
  18. ^ a b c d e Forsgren 2010, pp. 68–69.
  19. ^ Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. The Great Book of Fighters. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1194-3.


  • Erichs, Rolph et al. The Saab-Scania Story. Stockholm: Streiffert & Co., 1988. ISBN 91-7886-014-8.
  • Forsgren, Jan. "Database:SAAB 32 Lansen". Aeroplane, November 2010, Vol 38 No. 11, Issue 451. pp. 64–74.
  • Gunston, Bill and Peter Gilchrist. Jet Bombers: From the Messerschmitt Me 262 to the Stealth B-2. Osprey, 1993. ISBN 1-85532-258-7.
  • Taylor, John W.R. "Saab 32 Lansen (Lance)." Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the present. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-425-03633-2.
  • This Happens in the Swedish Air Force (brochure). Stockholm: Information Department of the Air Staff, Flygstabens informationsavdelning, Swedish Air Force, 1983.
  • Wagner, Paul J. Air Force Tac Recce Aircraft: NATO and Non-aligned Western European Air Force Tactical Reconnaissance Aircraft of the Cold War. Dorrance Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-1-4349-9458-5.
  • Wilson, Stewart. Combat Aircraft since 1945. Fyshwick, Australia: Aerospace Publications, 2000. ISBN 1-875671-50-1.

External links

  • Saab 32 Lansen - an Overview
  • The photo flying Saab J32D Lansen in Swedish colours is operated by heritage flight of the Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force) - 2012.
  • Ekstrand, O. "Swedish Test Flying." Flight, p. 704. 12 November 1954.
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