The scientific tourist #150 — Saab J35 Draken

Today’s picture comes from the Flugwerft Schleißheim branch of the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany:

Saab J35 Draken

It’s a Saab J35 Draken (“Dragon”) — a second-generation supersonic interceptor. Research on the Draken started in Sweden in 1949, with the first three prototypes flying in 1955 and 1956 — but sadly, the first two were damaged in crashes soon after testing started. But the injured craft were repaired, and changes made in testing resulted in the first Draken models entering service in 1960.

Several features set the Draken apart. Rather than attempting a swing-wing, designers coped with its wide speed range by giving the fighter a (then-unique) double delta wing — highly swept in the front for high speed (up to Mach 2.0) flight), more broadly swept in back to help with low-speed handling. The Draken was also designed to fly from specially prepared sections of highway in the event that its airfields had been disabled. It was also required to be re-armed and re-fueled by lightly trained conscripts in under 10 minutes.

Ultimately, 644 Drakens in 14 variants were built — staying in service in Sweden until 1998, and in other countries until the last was retired from military service in Austria in 2005.

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