J21 was projected during the turbulent time when WWII
started. In Sweden the authorities realized that there was no air
defence at all. 2 (J19) fighters were under construction and 2 fighter
models were under production, B17 and B18. SAAB was overcrowded with
The air defence had ordered 200 fighters from America, but only 60
were delivered before USA was involved in the war. 1941 SAAB had a
suggestion for a fighter J21 from the designer Frid Wännström. After
several deliberations with RLM (Reichluftsministerium) Sweden got
license to build DB605 with 1475 hk. The deliberation group also tried
to buy BF 109, but here it was negative.
In this situation combat air
aircrafts were bought from Italy. J11, J20 and Caproni bombers. These air
aircrafts were far away as good as the Bf 109 and Spitfire. During this
turbulence the J21 was not produced as fast as necessary. The J21 had
lots of problems with the engine from Germany and Sweden's own license
production of the engine had problems too.
Biggest was that the aircraft
didn't get proper cooling and in the end this restricted the climbing
ability of the aircraft. Nevertheless it was a type that had big
interest in the world and the design was closely followed by the
belligerent countries. Noticeable most from Russia. They reported all
This fighter was not delivered to the air wings until
war was over. Even another air aircraft was designed. It was something
between Bf109 and Mustang. This prolonged of course the production of
During one month J21 was stopped in favour for this J23.
Today we can say that if J23 was built it had been a better
aircraft than J21. The problem that J21 had with cooling
made that it was not possibly to tax the aircraft on ground.
The mechanics had to threw water on the cooling packets. A
redesign with electrical fans was done.
Also a catapult
chair was designed. This became the solution of the escape problem. The
first type of this kind of chair was done in Germany for the Heinkel
He-280. The first jet air aircraft of the world 1941. Sorry to say SAAB
never protected the design with patent. The English were before. This
made some trouble between SAAB and deHavilland.
298 SAAB 21A were
delivered to the air force up to 1948. All J21 were rebuild to J21A or
scraped. Through a decision that Sweden should not have any propeller
aircraft any more. The development of J21 was stopped and a redesign was
made for jet power. License was bought for Goblin jet engines. Only 60
J21R were delivered because Sweden bought J28 Vampire from England.
Swedish Air Force now had many different types of aircrafts. Spitfire,
Mustang, Italian aircrafts, J21A, Vampire J28, Venom J21R and J28. A
mopping-up operation was done. Only 3 J21 were left for our history and
one aircraft through different fates. The engine from one of these was
later sold to Germany for the last flying Bf109. Today (2006) the
interest has come so far that action has taken to rebuild one J21A to a
flying J21R. This project aircraft is the one in Air Force Museum.
There is also one J21 with propeller. Read more in my links.