A 21A - SAAB 21A (1947-1954)

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Swedish Air Force Attack Aircraft SAAB A 21-A-3 # "red Erik" of former Wing F 6 at Karlsborg.

The unconventional twin-boom fighter J 21A made its first flying trials in July 1943. Negotiating with the German authorities had secured the license for the manufacturing of the Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine (1475 hp) in Sweden. A more powerful engine would be preferred, but the SAAB designers tried to compensate the lack of engine power by providing the design with increased fire power and better visibility and
manoeuvrability. The A 21 soon showed better qualities as a ground attack than a fighter.

The SAAB 21A was made in three versions:
J 21A-1: The first version, armed with four 13,2 mm and one 20 mm Hispano automatic cannon. 54 aircraft were manufactured and delivered between December 1945 to December 1946.
J 21A-2: Two batches of each 62 airframes were delivered between July 1946 to November 1947. They were armed with Swedish-made Bofors cannons and modified instrumentation.
J 21A-3/ A 21A-3: The ground attack version which consisted of 119 aircraft delivered between May 1947 and January 1949. This version (also designated A 21A) could carry bombs and rockets.
The J 21A suffered all the time from cooling problems when running the engine on the ground. Due to the risks with the propeller behind the pilot, the J 21 was one of the first aircraft in the world to be fitted with an ejection seat. The J 21 was also built in a jet version powered with the de Havilland Goblin engine (J 21R). See also “Jet Fighters”.

Air Force Wing F 6 was established in July 1939 at the large and once very important fortress of Karlsborg. The first aircraft were borrowed from other Air Force Wings - first some J 8 Gloster Gladiatiors from F 8 and in 1940 B 4 Hawker Harts from F 4. But at last, during 1941, their regular aircraft, the licence-built dive-bombers
B 5 Northrop 8A-1, were delivered. During 1942 - 1944, F 6 also got 58 SAAB B 17 light bombers.

The fortress of Karlsborg is really a thing worth seeing. There are a guided adventure tours for tourists in the summer and there as a fine museum open all year round.

In 1948, F 6 was converted from at light bomber wing to an attack wing when the old aircraft began to be replaced with the SAAB A 21A-3. New built aircraft were delivered directly from SAAB and other were transferred from F 7 at Såtenäs and F 9 at Säve. Totally 88 A 21-3 were supplied to F 6.

Armament: As mentioned above, the SAAB 21 was equipped with two 13,2 automatic cannons in the wings and two 13,2 mm and one 20 mm automatic cannons in the nose. In addition, a pod containing eight 9 mm automatic guns could be carried under the fuselage. The aircraft had consequently the massive fire power of 13 guns when the pod was fitted.

One 500 kg or two 250 kg bombs could be carried in a bomb rack under the fuselage and further two 50 kg bombs under the wings.

The two most common rocket alternatives were either two heavy 18 cm attack rockets or eight light 14,5 cm attack rockets.

A 21A-3: Length: 10,45 m. Span: 11,60 m. Height: 4,00 m. Normal take-off weight: 4,413 kg. Max. speed: 640 km/h.

Photo at top: A 21A-3 of Wing F 6 at Karlsborg with code letter "E" as "Erik". I cannot determine which squadron it belonged to. If the letter was red, it ment the 1st Squadron, if it was blue the 2nd and if it was yellow the 3rd.



For the Model Builder

Heller Humbrol has produced a plastic model kit in scale 1:72 of the J 21A/A 21A. It includes decals with markings of code blue D of Wing F 6 and code red A of Wing F 9.  Catalouge number 08261.


Swedish Air Force Attack Aircraft SAAB A 21-A-3  former Wing F 6 at Karlsborg.

  SAAB A 21A-3 "Blue Urban" of 2nd Squadron of Wing F 6 (Karlsborg) after an accident at the field of Wing F 7 (Såtenäs).  



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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2010-03-04

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