SK 61 - Scottish Aviation Bulldog (1970-2001)

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78 Beagle Bulldogs were purchased by the Air Force and the Army in 1969. The aircraft would replace the Sk 50 Safir as a basic trainer for the Air Force and the Fpl 51 Piper Super Cub for the Army  aviation.
A basic idea was that 66 Bulldogs would form four artillery-spotting platoons in case of a war situation. Before the manufacturing of the aircraft started, Beagle Aircraft Corporation went bankrupt and was taken over by Scottish Aviation at Prestwick, Scotland.

The Bulldog design was a based on the well-known Beagle Pup. The side doors were deleted and instead a sliding canopy was used. The aircraft was three-seated with the seats for the teacher and student placed side-by-side.

The delivery of the 58 aircraft to the Air Force took place in 1971-1972. They were given military registration numbers 61001 - 61058. The Swedish designation of the type became SK 61, with the sub designations SK 61A for the standard unarmed variant and SK 61B for six aircraft that could carry the RB 53 wire-controlled Bantam missile. The missile casing was fitted at the starboard wing tip and the missile was controlled from the starboard seat. The installation of the RB 53 at some of the Bulldogs was sometimes utilized to train AJ 37 Viggen pilots before using the advanced (and much more expensive) RB 05 attack missile. The latter was like the RB 53 controlled by the pilot, although with radio signals.

In 1972-1973, the Army got its 20 Bulldogs. These aircraft were designated FPL 61C and got registration numbers in the interval 61061-61080. This version was mainly intended for liaison and for artillery fire spotting and direction. For this duties it had additional equipment as wire cutter and radio equipment for communication with army units on the ground. The rear windows could be opened for photographing from the air. Skis were delivered to the aircraft that were based in the North of Sweden. As the Bulldog is nose-wheeled, it took several years to solve this problem satisfactory. The nose-wheel and the smaller main wheels required better airstrips than the earlier tail-wheel designs (like the Super Cub). 

As the SK 61 was intended as a combat aircraft, none of them was painted in the usual trainer yellow colour. The Air Force Bulldogs were initially painted in a dark olive green/dark blue camouflage scheme at the top and in blue-grey at the bottom surfaces. 

The Army aircraft were painted in the more ambitious four-colour camouflage scheme developed primarily for the AJ 37 Viggen.  

When the FPL 61Cs were transferred to the Air Force, they were repainted in standard colours used at Tornados in the German Luftwaffe. The main reason was easier maintenance, but the new paint was also more friendly to the environment. The paint this time gave a gloss surface. The colours were olive green (RAL 6003) at the top and silver grey (RAL 7001) at the bottom. The gloss painting were later adopted as standard scheme for all repainted SK 61. 

In the beginning, the SK 61 was used for basic training at the Air Force Flight Academy (F 5) at Ljungbyhed. The pupils flew about 40 hours in the SK 61 before they began to fly the jet trainer SK 60. In 1987, the training programme was changed. The pupils nowadays start directly with the SK 60 jets. In 1989, the Army transferred their Bulldogs to the Air Force and replaced them with helicopters. FPL 61C now became SK 61C. These two events made of course most of the Swedish Bulldogs supernumerary. Some aircraft were distributed among the Air Force Wings, but the largest part was stored in hangars at Ljungbyhed.

Some SK 61s were equipped with avionics for training of civilian commercial pilots at TFHS (Trafikflyghögskolan – Lund University School of Aviation), also located at Ljungbyhed. These aircraft are designated SK 61D and SK 61E, depending on the equipment installed.  F 5 was disbanded in 1997. A few years later, TFHS had to transfer its Bulldogs to the civil register. 28 aircraft were modified to civil regulations 2000-2001.

Now many of the ex. SK 61:s are sold abroad.

The SK 61 was powered by a Lycoming IO-360-A1B6 engine, delivering 200 hp.  

Photo above: SK 61 D # 61005 (c/n 105)  at Malmen 1993-05-15.  

Photo below: SK 61A # 61045 (c/n 157). Later in the civil register as SE-LNH.

SK 61A: Length: 7,1m. Span: 10,1 m. MTOW: 1.065 kg. Max. speed: 261 km/h.   

See also photos at Modern Army Aeroplanes - FPL 61.




Military Aviation in Sweden - main page

© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2010-08-06

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