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Saab 29 Tunnan

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Title: Saab 29 Tunnan  
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Subject: Saab Group, Saab 38, Swedish Air Force, Saab 340 AEW&C, Saab 18
Collection: Saab Aircraft, Single-Engined Jet Aircraft, Swedish Fighter Aircraft 1940–1949
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Saab 29 Tunnan

Saab 29 "Tunnan"
29670 "Gul Rudolf" in flight over Malmen
Role Fighter aircraft
Manufacturer Saab
First flight 1 September 1948
Introduction 1950
Retired 1976
Status Retired
Primary users Swedish Air Force
Austrian Air Force
Produced 195056
Number built 661

The    , colloquially called Flygande tunnan (English: "The flying barrel"),[Nb 1][1] was a Swedish fighter designed and manufactured by Saab in the 1950s. It was Sweden's second turbojet-powered combat aircraft, the first being the Saab 21R. Despite its rotund appearance, the J 29 was fast and agile, serving effectively in both fighter and fighter-bomber roles into the 1970s.


  • Design and development 1
  • Operational history 2
    • Tunnan's African war service 2.1
  • Variants 3
  • Operators 4
  • Survivors 5
  • Specifications (Saab J 29F Tunnan) 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Design and development

In the aftermath of the Second World War, it was decided that Sweden needed a strong air defence built around the newly developed jet propulsion technology. Project "JxR" began in the final months of 1945 with two proposals from the Saab design team led by Lars Brising. The first, codenamed R101, was a cigar-shaped aircraft somewhat similar to the American Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. The winning design however was the "barrel" design, codenamed R 1001, which proved to be both faster and more agile.[2]

SAAB S 29C 'Tunnan' on display at Swedish Air Force Museum, Linköping
SAAB J 29F 'Tunnan' 29666/T on display at Soderhamn /F 15 Aviation Museum, Söderhamn Airport

The original R 1001 was designed around a mostly straight wing, but after the Swedish engineers had obtained German research data on swept-wing designs, the prototype was altered to incorporate a 25 degree sweep, first tested on a modified Saab Safir (designated Saab 201). A member of the Saab engineering team had been allowed to review German aeronautical documents stored in Switzerland. These files captured by the Americans in 1945 clearly indicated delta and swept-wing designs had the effect of "reducing drag dramatically as the aircraft approached the sound barrier."[3] The SAAB 29 prototype flew for the first time on 1 September 1948. It was a small, chubby aircraft with a single central air intake, a bubble cockpit and a very thin swept-back wing. The test pilot was an Englishman, S/L Robert A. 'Bob' Moore, DFC and bar,[4] who went on to become the first managing director of Saab GB Ltd, UK, set up in 1960.[2]

Moore described the aircraft as "on the ground an ugly duckling – in the air, a swift." Because of its shape, The Saab J 29 was quickly nicknamed "Flygande Tunnan" ("The Flying Barrel") or "Tunnan" ("The Barrel") for short. While the demeaning nickname was not appreciated by SAAB, its shortform was officially adopted.[5] Since then, Saab named the aircraft in order to avoid it happening again. A total of 661 Tunnans were built from 1950 to 1956, making it the largest production run for any Saab aircraft.[2]

Operational history

Saab Tunnan on display at the Swedish Armed Forces' Airshow 2010

The J 29 was one of the first production fighters with a swept-back wing. It was fast and agile, and set the world speed record on a 500 km (310 mi) closed circuit in 1954[6] at 977 km/h (607.05 mph). Two S 29C (reconnaissance variant) additionally set an international speed record of 900.6 km/h (559.4 mph) over a 1,000 km (620 mi) closed-circuit course in 1955.[6]

The crash record in early service was poor, mainly due to the inexperience with swept-winged aircraft and the lack of a two-seat, dual control Tunnan trainer variant: this meant that Swedish fighter pilots could only be trained using two seat variants of the de Havilland Vampire (a straight-winged jet), before going solo in a Tunnan. 99 pilots were killed during military practice flights in Sweden.[2]

The fighter version was retired from active service in 1965, but some aircraft were used for target towing up to 1974. The last official military flight was completed in August 1976 at the Swedish Air Force's 50th anniversary air show.[2]

30 Tunnans were sold to Austria in 1961 where they remained in service until 1972.[2]

Tunnan's African war service

The Tunnan was the first Swedish jet aircraft to enter combat. In 1961, five J 29Bs were stationed in the Swedish Air Force. It was reinforced by four more J 29Bs and two S 29C photo reconnaissance Tunnans in 1962. Most of the missions involved attacking ground targets with internal cannons as well as unguided rockets. No aircraft were lost in action despite large amounts of ground fire. Consensus of the crews and foreign observers was that the Tunnan's capabilities were exceptional.[7][8] (Their secessionist adversaries used a few Fouga Magisters and other aircraft with relatively poor air combat capabilities.) The only aircraft lost was by a high-ranking officer who made a trial run and crashed during an aborted takeoff. When ONUC was terminated in 1964, some of the Swedish aircraft were destroyed at their base, since they were no longer needed at home and the cost of retrieving them was deemed excessive.


Saab S 29C preserved in an aviation museum
J 29
Four prototypes built in 1949–50.
J 29A
Fighter, 224 built from 1951 to 1954; later series had wing-mounted dive brakes moved to the fuselage, ahead of the main landing gear doors.
J 29B
Fighter, 332 built 1953–55; featured 50% larger fuel capacity and underwing hardpoints to carry bombs, rockets and drop-tanks.
A 29B
Same aircraft as the J 29B, when serving with attack units.
S 29C
Reconnaissance ("S" was derived from Spaning; scouting or reconnaissance in Swedish), 76 built from 1954 through 1956; five cameras mounted in a modified nose (no armament was carried). Later modified with the improved wing design introduced on the J 29E.
J 29D
Single prototype to test Ghost RM 2A turbojet with 27.5 kN (2,800 kgp/6,175 lbf) afterburning thrust; project abandoned in 1961.
J 29E
Fighter, 29 built in 1955; introduced an improved wing design with a leading edge dogtooth to increase the critical Mach number.
J 29F
Fighter, 308 aircraft converted from available stocks of B and E model airframes from 1954 to 1956; featured the afterburning Ghost and dog-tooth wing; all remaining aircraft were further modified in 1963 to carry a pair of US-designed AIM-9B Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missiles, built by SAAB under license as the "Rb 24."


 United Nations ONUC


A J 29F Yellow F
  • J 29A 29203 in Svedinos Bil- och Flygmuseum, Ugglarp, Sweden
  • J 29F 29392 displayed on the roof of the airport terminal building at Vienna-Schwechat Airport, wearing false marks as 'H yellow' but it was once really 'I yellow'.
  • J 29B 29398 in the Swedish Air Force Museum at F 3 Malmslätt, just outside of Linköping, Sweden
  • J 29F 29401 displayed on a pillar at former Swedish Airforce wing F 4 Frösön, just outside of Östersund, Sweden.
  • J 29F 29441 displayed on a pillar at highway E4 outside Linköping, Sweden.
  • J 29F 29443 near the main-gate to the military area at Linz-Hörsching airport, Austria as 'M yellow'.
  • J 29F 29447 in Linz, Austria as 'B yellow'.
  • J 29F 29446 displayed at the Fahrzeug-Technik-Luftfahrt Museum as Bad Ischl, Austria as 'I red'.
  • J 29F 29449 in the Militarluftfahrtausstellung museum at Zeltweg, Austria as 'F yellow'.
  • J 29F 29541 in the Österreichisches Luftfahrt-Museum, Graz-Thalerhof in Austria as 'H yellow'.
  • J 29F 29543 at the Italian Air Force museum at Vigna di Valle.
  • J 29F 29560 at Hubhof, Austria, in an anonymous blue/white colour scheme, but was once 'E yellow'.
  • J 29F 29566 displayed at the Technisches Museum fur Industrie und Gewerbe in Vienna, Austria as 'O yellow'.
  • J 29F 29575 in the Swedish Air Force Museum. at the Angelholms Flygmuseum on the former Scania Air Force Wing F 10 Ängelholm
  • J 29F 29588 displayed at the entrance to the military area at Graz-Thalerhof in Austria, as 'D red'.
  • J 29F 29589 displayed at the side at Route 152 at Hillerstorp, Sweden.
  • J 29F 29621 with a collector at Gotene, Sweden.
  • J 29F 29624 displayed at the Aeroseum in an underground cavern at Gothenburg/Save airport.
  • J 29F 29640 Midland Air Museum, Coventry, Only example currently in the UK.
  • J 29F 29657 National Air and Space Museum, Only example currently in the US.
  • J 29F 29665 at the Musée de l'Air located at the former Paris–Le Bourget Airport in France.[9]
  • J 29F 29666 in Söderhamn/F 15 Flygmuseum, Söderhamn, Sweden
  • J 29F 29670 in the F 7 Såtenäs.
  • S 29C 29945 displayed at a car dealers at Kareby, Sweden.
  • S 29C 29970 displayed at the Flyvapenmuseum at Linköping, Sweden.
  • S 29C 29974 displayed at the Västerås Flygmuseum, Västerås, Sweden.

Specifications (Saab J 29F Tunnan)

Data from The Great Book of Fighters[2][10]

General characteristics


  • 4x20mm Hispano Mark V autocannon
  • 75 mm (3 in) air-to-air rockets
  • Rb 24 air-to-air missiles
  • 145 mm (5.8 in) anti-armor rockets, 150 mm (6 in) HE (high-explosive) rockets, 180 mm (7.2 in) HE antiship rockets

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists



  1. ^ The names of Swedish combat aircraft are always in the definite form, like Lansen or Gripen.


  1. ^ "Project:s Saab Historic Milestones." Saabgroup, 23 March 2014. Quote: Swedish naming of aircraft.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Goebel, Greg. "The SAAB 29 Tunnan.", 1 July 2010. Retrieved: 4 December 2010.
  3. ^ Erichs et al. 1988, p. 37.
  4. ^ "Saab 29." Flight, 4 May 1950, p. 558.
  5. ^ "History: Saab 29 Tunnan: JAS 29 in the Swedish Air Force." Saab. Retrieved: 21 March 2015.
  6. ^ a b "General Aviation World Records: Saab J 29." Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 18 February 2009.
  7. ^ "J 29 - SAAB 29 ”Flygande tunnan” (1951-1976)." Retrieved: 4 December 2010.
  8. ^ "J 29 Tunnan." REtrieved: 4 December 2010.
  9. ^ "Saab J 29F Tunnan." Musée de l'Air. Retrieved: 21 March 2015.
  10. ^ Green and Swanborough 2001


  • Berns, Lennart and Robin Lindholm. "Saab J 29 Tunnan". International Air Power Review, Volume 13/2004, pp. 152–73.
  • Erichs, Rolph et al. The Saab-Scania Story. Stockholm: Streiffert & Co., 1988. ISBN 91-7886-014-8.
  • Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. The Great Book of Fighters. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1194-3.
  • Taylor, John W.R. "Saab J 29." 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.
  • Widfeldt, Bo. The Saab J 29. Leatherhead, Surrey, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1966.
  • Wilson, Stewart. Combat Aircraft since 1945. Fyshwick, Australia: Aerospace Publications, 2000. ISBN 1-875671-50-1.
  • Winchester, Jim. "Saab J 29". Military Aircraft of the Cold War (The Aviation Factfile). Rochester, Kent, UK: The Grange, 2006. ISBN 1-84013-929-3.

External links

  • Military aviation: Swedish and worldwide
  • SAAB J 29 Tunnan
  • Me P.1101 similar German aircraft design
  • The Saab 29 Tunnan on Vectorsite
  • "SAAB-29" a 1950 Flight article
  • The photo only flying Saab J29F in Swedish colours is operated by heritage flight of the Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force) - 2012.
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