Saab 21R

The Saab 21R was a Swedish twin-boom fighter/attack aircraft made by Saab. It was a jet-powered development of the piston-engined Saab 21 which along with the Russian Yakovlev Yak-15 was one of the only two jet fighters successfully converted from a piston-powered aircraft to enter production.

As a fighter, its service designation in the Swedish Air Force was J 21R, and saw service in the late 1940s.

Saab 21R
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Saab Group
Origin Sweden
Country Name Origin Year
Sweden 1947
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Sweden 1950 1956 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Saab Group 64 View

In early 1945, Saab launched a project to determine how to provide the J21A with a jet engine to get the experience of jet engines and flying at high speeds. The goal was to catch up with the development of jet aircraft, which were moving ahead fast in England, where, among others, De Havilland already had the De Havilland Vampire in production.

When the project started, the engine choice was an open question. However, as the project progressed it became possible to buy a "Goblin 2" jet engine from De Havilland Engine Company, along with the license to manufacture in Sweden. This engine became the Air Force's first Jet Engine, RM1. The rebuilt J21A received type designation J21R. First flight with Saab's first jet took place on 10 March 1947.

The first prototype Saab 21R first flew on 10 March 1947, just after the Second World War. The aircraft first entered service with F 10 in August 1950. Although the type was originally intended as a fighter aircraft, a newly developed fighter, the Saab J 29 first flew in October 1948, the number to be produced was halved from 120 to 60, and eventually all 21Rs were converted to attack aircraft as A 21RA or the A 21RB depending on the engine type.

Role Fighter and attack aircraft
Manufacturer SAAB
Designer Frid Wänström
First flight 10 March 1947
Introduction 1950
Retired 1956
Status retired
Primary user Swedish Air Force
Produced 1950–1952
Number built 64
Developed from Saab 21

General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 10.45 m (34 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 11.37 m (37 ft 4 in)
  • Height: 2.90 m (9 ft 8 in)
  • Empty weight: 3,200 kg (7,055 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 5,000 kg (11,023 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × De Havilland Goblin 2 turbojet, 13.8 kN (3,100 lbf)


  • Maximum speed: 800 km/h (497 mph)
  • Range: 720 km (450 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 12,000 m (39,400 ft)
  • Takeoff roll: 650 m (2,133 ft)


  • 1x 20 mm Bofors cannon
  • 4x 13.2 mm M/39A heavy machine guns
  • Centerline pod for an additional 8x 13.2 mm M/39A heavy machine guns
  • Wing racks for either: 10x 100 mm or 5x 180 mm Bofors rockets, or 10x 80 mm anti-tank rockets.

End notes