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Saab 32 Lansen

The Saab 32 Lansen is a two-seat, transonic military aircraft designed and 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.

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.

Its basic design features it was designed from came from Switzerland.

It included drawings on Messerschmitts P.1101, P.1110, P.1111 and P.1112. SAAB’s project manager Frid Wänström retrieved these secret papers from Switzerland to Sweden in 1945.

The documents came from engineers from Messerschmitt 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.

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.

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.

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.

On the reconnaissance variant of the Lansen, up to six cameras can be installed in the place of the four cannons, 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.

The fuselage of the Lansen was very 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.

This was an early application of computer technology.

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.

The Lansen had a tricycle undercarriage with a single wheel on all of the landing gear.

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.

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.

For easy maintenance access to the engine, the aircraft’s entire aft fuselage was detachable. 

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.


A 32A

Ground-attack and maritime-strike version.

287 aircraft built between 1955 and 1957, 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 3×600 kg bombs.

J 32B

All-weather fighter version initially operated only for bad weather and night fighter duties.

Two prototypes and 118 production aircraft built 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 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, retired in 1997.

J 32E

ECM (electronic warfare and countermeasures) version used for ECM training.

Fourteen J 32B were modified, 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 32S/J16

In 1969, 4 X J32B versions were modified to become a ‘snow remover’ by using the heat from the engine to melt snow and ice.

The wings and the tail were removed, and a small cabin was added on top of the fuselage.

Where the engine outlet had been earlier, there was now a squared section added to where the tail had been, this leads the air down to the ground where it would melt snow.

The type was only tested and evaluated at F21 until 1971, when the project was cancelled.

The project was cancelled due to low efficiency and a very high fuel-consumption.

There were other problems such as the welds breaking because of the high heat.





14.94 m (49 ft 0 in)


13 m (42 ft 8 in)


4.65 m (15 ft 3 in)

Wing area

37.4 m2 (403 sq ft)


NACA 64A010

Empty weight

7,500 kg (16,535 lb)

Max take-off weight

13,500 kg (29,762 lb)


1 × Svenska Flygmotor RM6A afterburning turbojet engine,

47 kN (11,000 lbf) thrust dry, 65.3 kN (14,700 lbf) with afterburner


Maximum speed

1,200 km/h (750 mph, 650 kn)


2,000 km (1,200 mi, 1,100 nmi)

Service ceiling

15,000 m (49,000 ft)

Rate of climb

100 m/s (20,000 ft/min)



4 × 30 mm ADEN cannons 90 rounds each


4 × 75 mm air-to-air rocket pods


4 × Rb 24 air-to-air missiles.


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