S  26 – North American P-51D Mustang (1948-1954)

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S 26 was the unofficial, but commonly used, designation of the twelve J 26 fighter aircraft  that were fitted with reconnaissance cameras and were used by Wing F 21 at Kallax, not far from the Arctic Circle. 

Totally 161 J 26, perhaps better known as the North American P-51 Mustang, was bought by the Air Force at the end of and just after the Second World War. The first 50 aircraft were intended for Wing F 16 at Uppsala. This number included four Mustangs which had made emergency landings in Sweden during combat missions and retained here. Two of these was of the version older P-51B, ”Razorback”.  46 aircraft were flown from the UK by American pilots in March and April 1945.  All Mustangs, both P-51B and P-51D were given the Swedish designation J 26

In March 1946, further 90 P-51D Mustangs were bought, this time for Wing F 4 at Östersund, which now was to be converted to fighters. A last batch of 21 aircraft was purchased, intended for F 21 at Kallax near Luleå, our most northern Air Force Wing.  

At this time, the Air Force lacked suitable photo reconnaissance aircraft. The slow and not very dependable Caproni Ca 313 S 16 had been used during the neutrality guard. The Swedish defence had of course hard to follow the development abroad of the photo reconnaissance technique, but when a Lockheed Lightning of the P.R. version F-5E made a forced landing in Sweden in 1944, one glimpse of the recent development in the United Stated was caught. The Swedish Air Force installed P.R. cameras in a small number of the fighters (J 9 and J 22) just after the end of WWII and thus got some fairly modern reconnaissance aircraft. 

Fifty ex-British Spitfire PR Mk XIX  (S 31) were provided in 1948 to the Reconnaissance Wing F 11 at Nyköping, but this model was not chosen as P.R. aircraft for F 21 probably because it lacked armament. F 21 was (and is still) the only Air Force Wing in the most northern part of Sweden. A J 26 Mustang equipped with one large camera or two small cameras could keep its six cannons in the wings and could also be used as fighter aircraft if necessary.  

Tests were carried out in the beginning of 1948 at the Test Establishment (FC) at Malmslätt. Two Mustangs from F 16 were fitted used for this purpose. The Air Board decided to choose the alternative with one large camera.  Twelve J 26s were equipped with the British F.52 camera, in the Swedish Air Force designated Ska 10 (Seriekamera 10). The camera could be fitted with lenses of 50 cm alt. 92 cm focal length.  

The rebuilt Mustangs were delivered to F 21 in 1948-1949. When the Air Board decided in 1953 that the Mustangs would be replaced by jet aircraft,  all remaining J 26/S26 were sold to other countries. The last flight with a S 26 took place in 1954.  

The S 26 was fitted with a Packard-built Rolls-Royce Merlin12-cylinder liquid-cooled V-1650-7  engine developing 1.490 hp. The aircraft was armed with six 12,7 mm automatic cannons. 

Length 9,83 m. Span 11,29 m. MTOW 5.262 kg. Max. Speed 700 km/h.

The colour profile above is from Mikael Östberg's web site "Flieger". In his excellent site about Swedish aiviation, you can find a lot of unique photos of older and newer Swedish military aircraft as well as beautiful colour profiles.



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Updated 2010-07-17