Tp 91 - SAAB 91A Safir (1947-1960)

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Swedish Air Force transport aircraft TP 91 SAAB 91


The SAAB Safir (in English ”Sapphire”) is perhaps most known as a trainer aircraft, sold to more than 20 countries. But the first ten aircraft ordered by the Swedish Air Force was of the SAAB 91A model, and designated Tp 91 (Tp = Transport”). The Tp 91 was used as a liaison aircraft. Later, 84 trainers of the models 91B and 91C were ordered, designated Sk 50. Totally 323 Safirs were built.  

The story begins when SAAB in the end of WWII decided to develop three civil products. These were the SAAB 90 Scandia - a medium airliner, the SAAB 91 Safir and the SAAB 92 - a car. I remember the SAAB 92 myself well - my father and mother owned one. ”An oil-fired jungle-drum” was the nasty nick-name the Volvo-owners used of our pride, which was powered by a rather simple two-stroke engine. Later I drove a SAAB 96 myself - a car with much more power under the bonnet.  

The chief designer of SAAB 91 was A.J. Andersson, which also had designed the German Bücker trainer airplanes. The SAAB 91 and the Bücker Bü 181 Bestmann (in Sweden Sk 25) had certainly a lot of resemblance in their exterior. The serial production of the 91A version started in 1946. The ten Tp 91s for the Air Force were delivered in 1947. This first version of the Safir was powered by a de Havilland D.H. Gipsy Major X in-line engine of 147 hp.  

The SAAB 91A/Tp 91 had three seats and was fitted with retractable landing gear. One Tp 91, provided to the Naval Wing F 2 at Hägernäs, was also flown with floats.  

In May 1947, the Swedish aviator Count Carl Gustaf von Rosen made a good publicity for the SAAB Safir by flying a 91A from Sweden to Ethiopia during a 31 hour non-stop flight. The aircraft was a standard one - just extra fuel tanks were installed.    

Photo at top: SwAF/n 91119 at Munksjön Airport, Jönköping in the fifties. Photo by Inge Bergström, Värnamo.

All original Tp 91 were scrapped, but a few civil registered 91A are preserved. The 91A on the photo below (SE-AUR, c/n 91103), was once owned and flown by Uno Ranch. Here on display at the Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport in its original markings.  

Length: 7,80 m. Span: 10,60 m. MTOW: 1.075 kg. Max. speed: 265 km/h.



Swedish Air Force transport aircraft TP 91 SAAB 91

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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2010-03-22