Saab 32 Lansen
A Saab J 32B at Kristianstad Airshow in 2006
Manufacturer Saab AB
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]) is a two-seat, transonic military aircraft designed and manufactured by the Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab AB.

Development of the Lansen commenced in late Autumn 1946 as a successor to the Saab B 18/S 18 attack aircraft, although an initial contract for the design and mockup of Saab's proposed P1150 design was not issued until December 1948. As the design was refined, plans to use the indigenous STAL Dovern turbojet engine were put aside due to technical difficulties in favour of the license-built Rolls-Royce Avon powerplant instead. On 3 November 1952, the first prototype performed its maiden flight; following flight testing and several refinements, series production of the type commenced during the following year.

Deliveries of the Lansen to the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet) took place between 1955 and 1960. It was the service's first twin-seat jet aircraft as well as the first to be equipped with an integrated search radar. Three principal variants of the Lansen were produced, these being for attack (A 32A), fighter (J 32B), and reconnaissance (S 32C) missions. Later built aircraft were equipped with a more powerful model of the Avon engine and increasingly capable electronics. During its lengthy operational life, the Lansen also served in secondary roles, including as an electronic warfare platform, target tug, and research aircraft. The majority were retired during the 1990s following the end of the Cold War.


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.[4] During 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). 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.[5]

Its basic design also drew upon various materials that were obtained from Switzerland, including drawings on Messerschmitt's P.1101, P.1110, P.1111 and P.1112 projects. SAAB's project manager Frid Wänström retrieved these secret papers from Switzerland to Sweden in 1945. The documents had originated from Messerschmitt engineers who fled to Switzerland at the end of the Second World War. Among them were the engineer and aerodynamicist Hermann Behrbohm, who came to be part of Saab's core in the team around Saab 29 Tunnan and upcoming aircraft types like the Saab 32 Lansen and Saab 35 Draken.[citation needed]

On 20 December 1948, a phase one contract for the design and mock-up of the proposed aircraft was issued, formally initiating development work upon the P1150.[4][6] 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.[5] In response, Saab elected to develop a twin-seat aircraft with a low-mounted wing, and equipped with advanced electronics.[6] 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.[7]

Saab had initially envisaged powering the P1150 with the indigenously produced STAL Dovern turbojet engine. However, both timescale and technical difficulties encountered during the development of the Dovern resulted in the Swedish government electing to substitute the intended Dovern engine with the license-built Rolls-Royce Avon Series 100 turbojet engine, designated RM.5, instead.[4][5] 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 variant received the upgraded and significantly more powerful RM6A Avon engine instead.[8]

On 3 November 1952, the first P1150 prototype conducted its first flight.[5][9] 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.[4][10] A small batch of P1150 prototypes completed design and evaluation trials with series production of the newly designated Saab 32 Lansen beginning in 1953. Development work on the project was recorded as having involved more than 2,000,000 man-hours in total.[4]

During 1955, the first production A 32A Lansen attack aircraft were delivered to the Swedish Air Force; deliveries of this variant 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 engine for greater flight performance along with new navigation and fire control systems.[4][11] On 7 January 1957, the first J 32 B Lansen conducted its maiden flight; on 26 March 1957, the first S 32C Lansen performed its first flight. Production of the Lansen continued until May 1960.[4]


A J 32E Lansen on static display

The Saab 32 Lansen had a straightforward general arrangement, being one of the first aircraft in the world to be specifically developed to fly attack missions.[5] From the outset, it was designed to effectively accommodate the installation of electronic warfare and various 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 J 32 differed substantially from the other variant, Saab describing it as "to all intents a new aircraft", being fitted with a more powerful engine and newer armaments and different radar.[6]

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.[12][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.[14]

Rolls-Royce Avon engine

The fuselage of the Lansen was relatively well streamlined, being the first aircraft for which the outer skin curvature and joints between skin panels had been defined by mathematical calculation in order to reduce drag, achieved via an early application of computer technology.[15] 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 primary 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.[10] The Lansen had a tricycle undercarriage with a single wheel on all of the landing gear.[16] 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.[16] 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.[17]

The Lansen was powered by a single afterburning Svenska Flygmotor RM5 turbojet engine, which was a license-produced Rolls-Royce Avon RA.3/Mk.109 engine manufactured by Svenska Flygmotor.[18] For easy maintenance access to the engine, the aircraft's entire aft fuselage was detachable.[10] 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.[10][16]

Operational history

On 25 October 1953, a SAAB 32 Lansen attained a Mach number of at least 1.12 while in a shallow dive, exceeding the sound barrier.[10] 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 proved 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.[13] 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 nuclear or chemical weapons. During the 1950s and 1960s, Sweden had operated a nuclear weapons program, however never produced such weapons.[19]

Accidents destroyed a third of all Lansens during 25 years of service, killing 100 crew along with 7 civilians in Vikbo.[20] 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, and ejected before crashing into a farmhouse, killing all seven civilian occupants.[20] The crash was due to a known fault which occurred when a drop tank was fitted; the fighter variant J32 B had been forbidden from using the drop tank.[20] 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.[20]

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, a total of 20 J 32Bs having been converted for these duties.[1][6] 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.[22] As of April 2020 all aircraft have been withdrawn from active service.[6]


A 32A Lansen from F 17, 1960
A Saab J 32B Lansen at Flygfest 2011, Örebro, Sweden
A 32A
Ground-attack and maritime-strike version. 287 aircraft built between 1955 and 1957,[23] retired in 1978. Armed with four 20 mm Bofors M/49 cannons and could carry two SAAB RB 04 missiles, unguided rocket pods and a variety of different bombs up to 3x600 kg bombs. Equiped with Radarvarnare F9/5 Radar warning receiver and Box-3 chaff dispencer.[24]
J 32B
All-weather fighter version initially operated only for bad weather and night fighter duties. Two prototypes and 118 production aircraft built[23] 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 more powerful Svenska Flygmotor RM6A (Rolls-Royce Avon Mk 47A) engine.
S 32C
Specialized maritime and photo reconnaissance version developed from A 32A. 45 aircraft built[23] between 1958 and 1959, retired in 1978. Equipped with PS-432/A radar with extended range and with six cameras – two SKa 23 (Fairchild K-47), one SKa 15 (Williamson F49 Mk 2) and three SKa 16 (Vinten F95).
J 32D
Target tug version. Six J 32B were modified,[23] retired in 1997.
J 32E
ECM (electronic warfare and countermeasures) version used also for ECM training. Fourteen J 32B were modified,[23] 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.
J 32S/J16
In 1969 at the Norrbotten Wing (F 21) 4 aircraft of the J32B version were modified to become a kind of snow remover by using the heat from the engine to melt snow and ice. The wings and the tail was removed and a small cabin was added on top of the fuselage. Where engine outlet earlier had been, there was now a square pipe, which lead the air down to the ground. The type was only tested and evaluated at F 21 until 1971, when the project was cancelled. The project was cancelled due to low efficiency and a very high fuel-consumption. There was also a problem with the welding in the pipe. The naming of the version is pretty simple, J32S (S stands for Snö [Snow]) and J16 simply because half of the aircraft was removed in order to create the J32S.

Surviving aircraft

One aircraft has been restored to flying condition and takes part in air force shows. This is a J32D model which was formerly 32606, but is now officially registered SE-RME. Production number 32543 is flying under registration SE-RMD as of 2017, also for the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight.[25]

Additionally, a number of non flying airframes are on static display at various museums and (former) air force bases, including one in the United States.


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

Specifications (J 32B)

Saab J 32 Lansen 3-view drawing
RB 04 anti ship missile under the wing on an A32 A Lansen
External videos
video icon Footage of a SAAB J32 B Lansen of the Swedish Airforce Historic Flight
video icon Documentary on the J32 Lansen

Data from The Great Book of Fighters,[28] Combat Aircraft since 1945[2]

General characteristics



See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ 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 lens, three SKa 16 cameras with 3.9 inch lenses, and two Ska 23 cameras with 23.6 inch lenses.[13]
  4. ^ Since the early 1960s, the Swedish Air Force had developed the Viggen as the specified successor to the Lansen in the attack role.[21]


  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. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014. Swedish naming of aircraft
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Saab 30 December 1960. p. 1017.
  5. ^ a b c d e Gunston and Gilchrist 1993, p. 134.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Saab 32 Lansen." Archived 2016-01-26 at the Wayback Machine Saab, 14 December 2015.
  7. ^ Wagner 2009, p. 53.
  8. ^ Gunston and Gilchrist 1993, pp. 134–136.
  9. ^ "700 m.p.h. Saab." Flight International, 7 November 1952. p. 580.
  10. ^ a b c d e Gunston and Gilchrist 1993, p. 135.
  11. ^ Aviation Week, vol. 66, McGraw-Hill, 1957, p. 73.
  12. ^ Gunston and Gilchrist 1993, pp. 135–36.
  13. ^ a b Wagner 2009, p. 55.
  14. ^ Wagner 2009, pp. 54–55.
  15. ^ Gunston and Gilchrist 1993, pp. 134–35.
  16. ^ a b c Wagner 2009, p. 54.
  17. ^ Ford 1994, p. 45
  18. ^ Wagner 2009, pp. 53–54.
  19. ^ Agrell, Wilhelm (2002), Svenska Förintelsevapen: Utvecklingen av Kemiska och Nukleära Stridsmedel 1928–1970 (in Swedish), Lund, SE: Historiska Media, ISBN 91-89442-49-0.
  20. ^ a b c d "Haveriet" (in Swedish). SE: Fokus. Oct 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  21. ^ "Saab 37: Sweden's New Manned Weapon System." Flight, p. 1010. 27 December 1962.
  22. ^ Alpman, Marie. "Askprovtagning görs med Lansen" Swedish. NyTeknik, 6 May 2010. Retrieved: 2 September 2010.
  23. ^ a b c d e Forsgren 2010, pp. 68–69.
  24. ^ Speciel Förarinstruktion A32A (PDF) (144 ed.). KUNGL FLYGFÖRVALTNINGEN. p. 87, 88. Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  25. ^ "Aircraft SE-RMD Data". Airport-Data. 5 May 2017. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  26. ^ Jönsson, Sven-Erik (8 December 2019). "Vad händer på FMTS (gamla F 14) med Lansen?". Svensk Flyghistorisk Förening. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  27. ^ "Luftfahrtmuseum: welcome". Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  28. ^ Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. The Great Book of Fighters. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1194-3.
  29. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Retrieved 16 April 2019.


  • Erichs, Rolph et al. The Saab-Scania Story. Stockholm: Streiffert & Co., 1988. ISBN 91-7886-014-8.
  • Ford, Daniel (Winter 1994). "Enduring Gem: SAAB's long serving Safir trainer". Air Enthusiast. No. 56. pp. 45–51. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • 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.
  • "Saab: Sweden's Advanced Combat Aircraft." Flight International, 30 December 1960. pp. 1017–20.
  • 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.