Swedish Hawker Hunter J34 & de Havilland J28A Vampire
By kjfitz @ 2007-11-21 17:18:48
The Hawker Hunter was a British jet fighter aircraft of the 1950s and 1960s. The Hunter served for many years with the Royal Air Force and was widely exported, serving with 19 air forces. A total of 1,972 Hunters were produced by Hawker Siddeley and under licence.
In the early 1950s, the Swedish Air Force saw the need for an interceptor that could reach enemy bombers at a higher altitude than the J 29 that formed the backbone of the fighter force. A contract for 120 Hawker Hunters was therefore signed in 1954 and the first one were delivered in August 1955. The model was designated J 34 and was assigned to the F 8 and F 18 wings that defended Stockholm. The J 34 was armed with four 30 mm cannons and two Sidewinders. The Swedish Air Force's aerobatic team Acro Hunters used five J 34s during the late 1950s. The J 34s were gradually replaced by supersonic J 35 Draken and re-assigned to less prominent air wings, F 9 in Gothenburg and F 10 in Ängelholm, during the 1960s. The last ones were retired in 1969.
A project to improve the performance of the J 34 by installing a Swedish-designed afterburner proved successful in 1958. However, the cost turned out to be prohibitive so the project was shelved without implementation.
The British de Havilland DH.100 Vampire was the second jet-engined aircraft commissioned by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War (the first being the Gloster Meteor), although it did not see combat in that conflict. The Vampire served with front-line RAF squadrons until 1955. It also served with numerous other air forces worldwide (see Operators). Almost 4,400 Vampires were built, a quarter of them under licence.
The Swedish Air Force purchased its first batch of 70 FB 1 Vampires in 1946, looking for a jet to replace the P-51D Mustangs and the outdated J 22s of its fighter force. The aircraft was designated J 28A and was assigned to the F 13 air wing at Norrköping. It provided such good service that it was selected as the backbone of the fighter force. A total of 310 of the more modern FB 50, designated J 28B, were purchased in 1949. The last one was delivered in 1952, after which all piston-engined fighters were decommissioned. In addition, a total of 57 two-seater DH 115 Vampire called J 28C were used for training.
The Swedish Vampire fighters were retired in 1956 and replaced with J 29 (SAAB Tunnan) and J 34 (Hawker Hunter). The trainers remained in service well into the 1960s. The last Vampire was retired in 1968. (All Vampire warbirds being flown in Sweden today originate from the Swiss Air Force.)