1:72 Saab A 32A „Lansen“, aircraft ‚29‘ (s/n 32209) of the Swedish Air Force Försökscentralen during camouflage trials; Malmslätt, Sweden, 1970 (Quasi-whif/Heller kit conversion)
+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based on authentic facts. BEWARE!
In Autumn 1946, the Saab company began internal studies aimed at developing a replacement aircraft for the Saab B 18/S 18 as Sweden's standard attack aircraft. In 1948, Saab was formally 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 B 18/S 18, J 21R/A 21R and J 30 (de Havilland Mosquito).
On 20 December 1948, a phase one contract for the design and mock-up of the proposed aircraft was issued. The requirements laid out by the Swedish Air Force 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. In response, Saab elected to develop a twin-seat aircraft with a low-mounted wing, and equipped with advanced electronics.
On 3 November 1952, the first prototype conducted its first flight. A small batch of prototypes completed design and evaluation trials with series production of the newly designated Saab 32 Lansen beginning in 1953. The first production A 32A Lansen attack aircraft were delivered to the Swedish Air Force and proceeded through to mid 1958, at which point manufacturing activity switched to the other two variants of the Lansen, the J 32B and S 32C. These two models differed substantially from the first, the J 32 B being fitted with a new, more powerful engine for greater flight performance along with new navigation and fire control systems. On 7 January 1957, the first J 32 B Lansen conducted its maiden flight; on 26 Match 1957, the first S 32C Lansen performed its first flight. Production of the Lansen continued until May 1960.
The A 32 Lansen was Sweden's last purpose-built attack aircraft. This was the ground attack and maritime strike version. It replaced Saab B 18 and was later replaced by Viggen. In the years 1955-58 287 were delivered to the Swedish air force. This version had four 20 mm guns in the nose, covered by shutters. The shutters were opened upon "safety off", but had to be closed by command. Empty casings were kept from the air intakes by a pair of small plates under the nose. As they then impacted the external fuel tank, its nose was covered in neoprene to protect it.
The radar used in the A 32A was designated PS-431/A, actually of French design but built in Sweden. Instrumented ranges were 8, 20, 80 and 160 km. The radar gave the A 32 a true all-weather capability and was also used to aim the indigenous RB 04 anti-ship missiles.
As these aircraft always operated in groups, and as an economy measure only about 25% of them were given radars, Typically, only these leader aircraft had navigators aboard and marked the target with illumination flares, while the others, only operated by a single pilot, carried out the actual attack with bombs or missiles.
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. The last A 32A was retired from active service in 1978. Accidents destroyed a third of all Lansens during 25 years of service.
As the type was gradually being replaced by more modern types, the versatile Saab 32 still continued to be operated into the late 1990s as target tugs and electronic warfare platforms, a total of 20 J 32Bs were converted for these duties into J 32D and Es. 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. By 2012, a total of three Lansens reportedly remained in active service.
Length: 14.94 m (49 ft 0 in)
Wingspan: 13.0 m (42 ft 8 in)
Height: 4.65 m (15 ft 3 in)
Wing area: 37.4 m² (402.6 ft²)
Empty weight: 7,438 kg (16,383 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 13,600 kg (29,955 lb)
1× Svenska Flygmotor RM5A afterburning turbojet
(a Rolls Royce Avon Mk.21/21A outfitted with an indigenous afterburner),
delivering 3,460 kp dry and 4,700 kp with afterburning
Maximum speed: 1,125 km/h (700 mph)/Mach 0.91
Never-exceed speed: 1.200 km/h (745 mph)
Cruising speed: Mach 0.8
Range with internal fuel only: 1.850 km (1,150 mi)
Service ceiling: 14,000 m (45,800 ft)
Rate of climb: 60 m/s (11,800 ft/min)
4× 20 mm cannon with 180 rounds per gun (7 s of firing) in the lower nose section
A total of thirteen external hardpoints for a wide variety of up to 3.000 kg ordnance,
including a pair of Rb04 anti-ship missiles, unguided missiles and bombs of different calibers,
and special loads like a BOZ 3 chaff dispenser pod.
The kit and its assembly:
This is another contribution for the “Old Kit Group Build” running at whatifmodelers.com in late 2016. I had this project on the agenda for a long time, even kit and decals stashed away, but this was now a good occasion to start it.
The basis is the venerable Saab 32 Heller kit, since 1982 the only available 1:72 IP model of the Lansen – just recently Hobby Boss and Tarangus presented their own kits in 1:48 and 1:72.
The kit offers parts for an A 32A attack aircraft and optional parts for an S 32C recce aircraft (a J 32B interceptor and its derivatives needs some detail mods at the exhaust and under the nose).
This old kit has good detail, but it comes with then-state-of-the-art raised panel lines, some flash and election marks. Fit varies a lot – while the wing/fuselage intersection matches perfectly, the fuselage halves needed a lot of attention and serious bodywork. The optional lower nose section for the A and C variants is also not without trouble: the part fits, but the seams run right along the middle of the air intake channels, a pretty delicate solution. Overall, the kit builds well without major issues. But it’s a shame that it comes ”clean”, some of the exotic Swedish ordnance (e. g. the unique Rb04 missiles or the conformal under-fuselage tank) would have been a nice addition.
The Heller kit was basically built OOB as an A 32A attack aircraft, just with a few enhancements and additions. These include lowered flaps for a more lively presentation (no aftermarket parts, just a mod of the kit itself), extended air intake walls (inside, with simple styrene sheet), some new antennae and emergency fuel valves under the tail section, and twelve pylons under the wings with a dozen heavy unguided missiles. The latter come from an Airfix/Heller A-1 Skyraider and the pylons (four bigger ones, which can also hold heavier ordnance, plus eight smaller hardpoints for light loads only like 120 kg iron bombs or unguided missiles) were scratched from styrene sheet. Instead of the characteristic conformal belly tank, I installed a large, central pylon for a camera pod. After all, this aircraft flies for a test institution.
Painting and markings:
This is the whiffy and more interesting part. The paint scheme on this Lansen is based on an illustration that has been around for ages and which pops up every now and then in literature and online - always without any further information:
AFAIK the illustration was created in the GDR by an artist with the family name "Römer", probably in the Seventies. What I could find out is that the aircraft is s/n 32209, and that it was sold to the USA for private use (as a target tug) in flying condition, and the machine served, in an all-grey livery, until 1989. The only vague proof for the the odd and disruptive three-tone-scheme I found is a blurred picture of FC/29 still in Swedish service, but with a totally weathered camouflage, a nose probe and with one wing upper surface painted black while the other appears white. But the machine seems to have existed in the profile's guise, or something similar.
The scheme looks pretty experimental, though, and camouflage trials were actually carried out with the Lansen in the early Sixties and eventually led to the green/blue scheme that was adopted for the type and later for the Saab 35, too. The aircraft’s operator, the Försökscentralen (The Swedish Air Force’s research and test institution, with its traditional tactical code “FC” instead of the usual unit number on the fuselage), supports the machine’s trials role further.
Anyway, this scheme here, probably inspired by the USAF’s SEA scheme, rather looks like an early study for what would later become the unique "Fields & Meadows" splinter scheme, made famous by the Viggen in the Seventies? All these leads suggest a relatively tight, potential time frame for this aircraft in the late Sixties/very early Seventies.
Because there’s only a port side profile available of “FC/29”, the rest of the scheme had to be guessed – and for the first time I created a digital four-side view for the task. Since there’s no reference, I guesstimated the tones: The light green is Humbrol 150 (Forest Green, FS 34127) later shaded with Humbrol 80 (Grass Green). Humbrol 91 (Black Green, ~RLM70) was used for the for the dark, bluish green. Finally the brown tone was mixed with Humbrol 29 and RLM 79 (Sandgelb, from the Modelmaster Authentics range) plus a bit of Humbrol 62 (Leather) for an orange-ish, sandy tan tone, so that it does not look too much like USAF FS 30219.
The underside was painted with RLM 76 (Humbrol 247), a tone that IMHO comes very close to the dull Blågrå tone of Swedish military aircraft since WWII.
The cockpit interior was painted, according to pictures of the real aircraft, in a greenish grey – I used RLM 02 for the standard surfaces and Humbrol 111 for the dashboards and other instrument panels.
The silver wing leading edges were created with decal sheet, not painted - a clean and convenient solution.
The landing gear wells als well as the flaps’ interior became Aluminum (Humbrol 56), while the landing gear struts became dark green (Humbrol 30), a detail seen on some real life Saab 32s. The unguided missiles were – typical for the Swedish Air Force – painted as training rounds in light green (Humbrol 120, FS 34227).
Most markings come from an RBD Studio aftermarket sheet (excellent stuff!), puzzled together from various aircraft and with the benefit of additional stencils, since the OOB sheet is pretty minimalistic. To make matters worse, the OOB sheet was printed off-register, so that almost nothing with 2 colors or more could be used.
The cool thing about the RBD Studio sheet is, though, that it actually allows to create the “29” from the inspiring profile! The orange nose band, a typical marking for fighters operated by the Försökscentralen, was scratched from decal sheet.
One detail that is certainly not correct is the squadron emblem on the air intake - it is shown in the inspiring profile, so I chose something that comes visually close, F15's emblem.
Only light panel shading was done, more for the dramatic effect than true weathering. Finally, the kit was sealed with matt acrylic varnish.
A relatively simple build, without major donations or transplantations. “FC/29” - fictional or not - turned out to be quite colorful, I am positively surprised.
Its high contrast camouflage proves to be quite effective in the beauty pics, and the green ordnance as well as the bright markings are nice contrasts. Looks very different from "normal" Saab 32s, especially from the all-green fighters.
This will certainly not the last Saab 32 I’ll build, it’s a very impressive and elegant aircraft!