Saab 32 Lansen

The Saab 32 Lansen (English: Lance) was a two-seat, transonic military aircraft designed and manufactured by SAAB from 1955 to 1960 for the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet). Three principal variants of the Lansen were built for attack (A 32A), fighter (J 32B), and reconnaissance (S 32C). During its long operational life, the Saab 32 also served as an electronic warfare platform and target-tug aircraft.

Saab 32 Lansen
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Saab Group
Production Period 1954 - 1960
Origin Sweden
Country Name Origin Year
Sweden 1952
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Sweden 1956 1997 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Saab Group 1954 1960 450 View

The Saab 32 Lansen had a simple general arrangement, being one of the first aircraft in the world to be specifically developed to fly attack missions. From the outset, it was designed to provide good support for the installation of electronic warfare and weapons systems. The aircraft could be armed with a total of four 20?mm cannon, as well as wing pylons for various calibers of rockets and assorted bombs. The J 32 variant carried four 30?mm ADEN cannons while the A 32 ("A" stands for attack) had an armament of four 20?mm Bofors m/49 cannon hidden under flaps in the nose.

The Lansen's nose also contained the Ericsson mapping and navigation radar, the forward antenna of which was housed in a large blister fairing underneath the fuselage, directly forward of the main landing gear; this radar worked in conjunction with the Rb 04C anti-ship missile, one of the earliest cruise missiles in western service. The attack variant of the Lansen could carry up to two RB04 missiles, one underneath each wing. On the reconnaissance variant of the Lansen, up to six cameras can be installed in the place of the four cannons, the camera bodies required the installation of chin blisters on the upper fuselage of the nose; the Lansen could also carry up to 12 M62 flash bombs for night photography.

The fuselage of the Lansen was produced with a sleek, streamlined airframe with clean lines. The Lansen was the first aircraft on which every mould line had been a result of mathematical calculation, made possible via an early application of computer technology. The wing had a 10 per cent laminar profile and a 35° sweep. hydraulically-boosted ailerons and large Fowler flaps on the wings comprised the main flight control surfaces, as did the hydraulically-assisted elevators of the powered tailplane; a total of four airbrakes were also present on the sides of the rear fuselage. The Lansen had a tricycle undercarriage with a single wheel on all of the landing gear. Other wing features include one-section stall fences on the outer-thirds of the wing, a pitot tube on the right wingtip, and three underwing hardpoints. To test the 35° sweepback design of the Lansen's wing, a half-scale wing was mounted on a Saab Safir, designated Saab 202 Safir.

The Lansen was powered by an afterburning Svenska Flygmotor RM5 turbojet engine, which was a license-produced Rolls-Royce Avon RA.3/Mk.109 engine manufactured by Svenska Flygmotor. For easy maintenance access to the engine, the aircraft's entire aft fuselage was detachable. The air intakes for the engine were located just forwards and above the wing. The two-man pilot and navigator crew were contained in a pressurised cockpit equipped with a single-piece clamshell canopy; a second windscreen separates the cockpit in between the pilot and navigator to protect the latter in case of inadvertent jettisoning of the canopy.

On 25 October 1953, a J 32 Lansen attained a Mach? number of at least 1.12 while in a shallow dive, exceeding the sound barrier. In December 1955, deliveries of the A 32A attack variant formally commenced, allowing the swift retirement of the last piston-powered B 18 bomber from Swedish service shortly thereafter. According to Bill Gunston and Peter Gilchrist, the A 32A provided to be extremely effective, both in terms of serviceability and the accuracy of its armaments. Between 1958 and 1960, a total of 54 S32 C reconnaissance aircraft were manufactured. The last Lansen to be built was delivered to the Flygvapnet on 2 May 1960.

One intended use for the A 32A was as an aerial delivery system for nuclears or chemical weapons. During the 1950s and 1960s, Sweden had operated a nuclear weapons program, however no such weapons were ever produced by Sweden.

Accidents destroyed a third of all Lansens during 25 years of service, killing 100 crew along with 7 civilians in Vikbo. The accidents were due to a combination of technical faults, the aircraft not being ready for service, and training deficiencies in regards to flying at night and in adverse weather. In the 1960 Vikbo crash, pilot Uno Magnusson's A 32A suffered an engine outage, Magnusson ejected before it crashed into a farmhouse, killing all seven civilian occupants. The crash was due to a known fault which occurred when a drop tank was fitted; the J32 B had been forbidden from using the drop tank. Replacement parts to correct the fault were available at the base but had not yet been fitted. The crash's causes were suppressed from the public by the Flygvapnet press office; as the victims were civilians, they were not included in official accident statistics.

The A 32 Lansen was Sweden's last purpose-built attack aircraft. The replacement of the A 32A formally began in June 1971, the more advanced Saab 37 Viggen being slowly used to take over its attack responsibilities. As the type was gradually being replaced by more modern types, the Saab 32 continued to be operated into the late 1990s as target tugs and electronic warfare platforms. By 2010, at least two Lansens were still operational, having the sole task of taking high altitude air samples for research purposes in collaboration with the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority; one of these collected volcanic ash samples in mid 2010.

Role Attack aircraft, Fighter aircraft,Reconnaissance aircraft
Manufacturer SAAB
First flight 3 November 1952
Introduction 1956
Retired 1997
Primary user Swedish Air Force
Produced 1954-1960
Number built 450

General characteristics

  • Crew: two
  • Length: 14.94 m (49 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 13.0 m (42 ft 8 in)
  • Height: 4.65 m (15 ft 3 in)
  • Wing area: 37.4 m² (402.6 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 7,500 kg (16,535 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 13,500 kg (29,760 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Svenska Flygmotor RM 6A afterburning turbojet, 47.0 kN dry, 65.3 kN with afterburning (10,560 lbf / 14,685 lbf)


  • Maximum speed: 1200 km/h (745 mph)
  • Range: 2,000 km (1,240 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 15,000 m (49,200 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 100 m/s (19,685 ft/min)


  • 4 × 30 mm ADEN cannons 90 rounds each
  • 4 × Rb 24 air-to-air missiles
  • 4 × 75 mm air-to-air rocket pods

End notes