SAAB J21 / J21R
The first in a long line of fighter aircraft from SAAB, and showing early evidence of their taste for the unconventional, the J-21 was a very unusual design with pusher engine and tricycle undercarriage. Despite problems with both the undercarriage and engine cooling, the J-21 and its attack version the A-21 were built in some numbers and served the Swedish air force well in the late '40s/early '50s. A jet-powered derivative, the J-21R, was also built and entered service, the very first Swedish jet fighter.
The story of these innovative aircraft is told in this book, profusely illustrated with photos, scale drawings and colour profiles. A complete walk-around section in colour shows the surviving airframes in some detail.
Aeroplane 04/2011 2013-03-28
SAMI April 2011 2013-03-28
The J-21 was the first in a long line of fighter aircraft from SAAB, and it showed early evidence of their taste for the unconventional. The J-21 was a very unusual design with a pusher engine and tricycle undercarriage.
Despite problems with both the undercarriage and engine cooling, the J-21 and it’s attack version, the A-21, were built in some numbers and served the Swedish Air Force well in the late 40’s and early 50’s.
A Jet-powered derivative, the J-21R, was also built and entered service, the very first Swedish jet fighter. The story of these innovative aircraft is told in this book. T
he book is profusely illustrated with 9 color photos (including the cover), 112 black and white photos, 48 color walk-around photos of the J-21A/B Type, 5 illustrations from the tech manual for that type, 8 1/72nd scale line drawings of it, a color 4-view profile and 6 side profiles. 5 different squadron badges are illustrated in color also.
For the J-21R jet powered version there are 10 1/72nd line drawings, a mixture of 53 color and black and white walk-around photos, 15 illustrations for a tech manual, 6 color side profiles and one 4-view color illustration.
There is a fold out sheet inserted into the book that is 23” x 16 “. Printed on one side are 8 1/48th scale line drawings of the J-21A. The reverse side of the sheet has 7 1/46th scale line drawings of the J-21R.
The full story of this innovative aircraft is told in this book. It will prove to be an invaluable reference for aviation enthusiasts, historians and modelers.
Sweden has always been fiercely independent and over the last century, has made a major effort to stay neutral in the various conflicts that have plagued the world. One of the problems that can come from the need to keep out of things, is that they need to be self sufficient when it comes to providing for the national defense. This frequently means more expensive weapons systems, but such is the price that the citizens of the country are willing to pay in the form of high rates of taxation to keep a viable military.
During WWII, though the Swedes did buy outside designed aircraft, it was pretty obvious that they needed to do more on their own. In 1941 it was pretty obvious that they weren't going to get a ton of help from the warring powers in aircraft so Swedish Aircraft Ltd (SAAB), was tasked with developing a fighter. It had to be able to reach enemy planes quickly and have the firepower to be effective.
The result was the first of many somewhat unorthodox designs to come from SAAB when it comes to fighter development. The twin boom layout proved to offer straight-forward gun placement in the nose and leading edge of the booms. The pusher design also provided an aircraft that was very easy to land and one that got into the air quickly. It did provide some design problems in terms of cooling the DB 605B engine and getting pilots used to the nose gear layout, but overall, when it entered unit service in mid 1945, it was quite an effective aircraft....at low altitude. You see, the lack of supercharging meant that as the altitude went much over 10 or 15,000 feet, engine performance fell off.
As such, when other aircraft became available as fighters (like the P-51 Mustang), the J-21 was turned into a ground attack aircraft, one where it was quite successful. Thanks to the pusher propeller, standard bail out wasn't an option, so an effective ejection seat was developed which was used with success on every occasion it was needed.
When the jet age came into being it was decided to convert the J21 to turbojet power. The initially simple seeming project ended up with an almost completely new airframe. Again, it was relatively successful but as a fighter, it was inferior to the Vampires that were coming into use by the Swedish Air Force, so turned over to ground attack duties where it was, again, successful for the remainder of its relatively short career.
This new book in MMP's Yellow series takes a look at the design and development of the J-21 and J-21R. Within its 144 pages is a complete rundown on the aircraft and its different variants. The history section covers the use of the aircraft within each of the fighter wings that flew the plane. Thanks to three extant airframes in Swedish museums, there is a full and complete walk around with most of the images in this section in full color. This also includes period images and pages from the maintenance manuals to give even greater insight into this fighter. There are also a goodly number of the color profiles we have all come to expect from MMP books. As an added bonus, there are scale plans included in 1/72 and 1/48 scale, the latter provided as a huge fold out that provided additional detail drawings.
Overall, it is a most complete look at one of the world's more interesting fighters. A book that continues the excellent of MMP products and one that
I can highly recommend to you.
Review Type: First Look
Good quality of finish plus very well researched and laid out, with excellent photos and illustrations.
An excellent book, and suitable as a prime reference on the SAAB 21 & 21R
Reviewed by Mark Davies
F i r s t R e a d
The SAAB J21 was the first in an unbroken line of SAAB fighters. Its unusual pusher configuration required the use of one of the earliest ejector seats. Whilst conferring some advantages like a nose clear for armament and good visibility, it also meant it tended to have cooling problems and suffered from nose leg collapses. None the less it was a successful design, although soon eclipsed in the interceptor role post-war by the acquisition of P-51D’s. However it went on to prove successful as a ground attack platform.
The twin-boom layout seemed ideal for a ready conversion to jet power using a de Havilland Goblin engine as the SAAB J21R. In the end, and despite appearances, about 90% of the airframe had to be changed to some degree from the piston-engined J21. Once again the J21R was short-lived as an interceptor following the adoption of the de Havilland Vampire, and once again it was put to use as a ground attack aircraft.
I’m a SAAB fan, being an admirer of their aircraft designs and a fondness for their cars (I drive one), so I was very pleased to get this book to review. I just wish I had it about 8 years ago when I built my Heller SAAB J21!
MMP Books is well established as a quality source of reference material on various aircraft. This book is typical of previous Yellow series issues. It is attractively produced with semi-gloss pages, well-reproduced photos, and easy to read English text. By this I mean it has no obvious signs of being a translation with the somewhat awkward phrasing that sometimes occurs.
The book covers the aircraft’s history, development and versions, as well as unit employment. The J21R is covered in depth as well, and in fact the books is almost two in one in this respect as the format is repeated for the two principle versions.
Excellent photos are a feature throughout with some superb walk-around colour shots of museum examples. Numerous detail drawings are provided (these look to be from period technical manuals) and add interest as well as serving the needs of super-detailers.
Colour scheme drawings are produced as attractive full-colour multi-view plates.
There are superbly drawn plans in 1/72 scale within the book, and the same plans are enlarged to 1/48 scale on two sides of a folded and removable A-2 sheet. Of course I can’t confirm their level of accuracy, but such is the level of research in the book I should think they are very good.
This book succeeds in providing the historian and modeller with an excellent account of SAAB J21 and J21R development and operational histories. It’s an interesting read in its own right, but is a goldmine of information for the modeller. Despite being a dedicated 1/72 builder, I hope that the content and 1/48 plans prompt some kit company to produce a 1/48 J21kit for our quarter-scale brethren.
I did say I was a SAAB fan, and this predisposes me to be pleased about a book on the J21. However I am confident that my bias has not distorted my assessment regarding the book’s high quality presentation, and appreciation of how much good stuff is packed into a fairly small package.
Reviewed by: Hub Plott, IPMS #31328
This book tells the story of the first fighter aircraft from Sweden’s SAAB. The unconventional, pusher propeller, twin boomed SAAB J-21 and its jet powered development, the J-21R As one who has a fondness for unusual aircraft I am really grateful to finally have a book that covers this aircraft.
The book begins with the development of the aircraft and its related systems. Of special importance was the development of an ejection seat so that the pilot could exit and clear the pusher propeller in an emergency. This is followed by operational histories of its use with the various squadrons. The coverage of the propeller driven J-21 concludes with 25 pages of color photos of the two surviving J-21s presented in a “walk-around” style. In addition to many fine exterior shots, there is extensive photo coverage of the cockpit. Lastly, we are treated to six pages of color profiles of various operational J-21s
The second half of the book follows the same format as the first, except now it tells the story of the jet powered J-21R variant. This was the first jet to serve in the Swedish Air Force. After the developmental and operational histories we are again treated to a wonderful photo coverage section of the sole remaining J-21R. This aircraft is actually a J-21 that was converted over to jet power just as the original J-21R prototype. Again we finish up with 30 plus pages of color photos and 8 color profiles. Like the similar section covering the J-21, every detail is covered in beautiful full color.
Also included in the book are 1/72 and 1/48 scale drawings of both aircraft types. I can only hope that these drawing and the wonderful detail photographs will lead to one of the Czech or other model companies to release a new 1/72 and first ever 1/48 scale kits of both versions!!!
This book will be of interest to the modeler, aviation enthusiast/historian alike. I can recommend it to all that like the subject or have, as I do a passion for unconventional aircraft. The book is available now and may be ordered directly from Mushroom Model Publications or their North American distributor, Casemate Publishing at www.casematepublishing.com. I wish to offer my thanks to IPMS-USA for the opportunity to review this book and our thanks to Mushroom Model Publications for this review copy.
Even if Sweden saw its neutrality respected by all during WW2, that doesn’t mean that Sweden did not tried to expend its armed forces during these critical years. By the end of the thirties, Sweden began to purchase subsequent numbers of aircraft from all sides to equip actual and future units, but these efforts were frustrated when war broke out, and one after one, orders were embargoed, the last of the country in doing so were the United States in October 1940. However, Sweden was concerned about the future and continued to will to expend its air force in the aim to protect the country. It became clear that the Swedes had to go on their own as for combat aircraft and many projects were launched by the Swedish industry.
The SAAB J-21 was born from this situation. When it appeared, it was a very unconventional prop-driven aircraft at that time. The J-21 has the particularity in having an operational jet-prop derivative, becoming one a the very few aircraft of that kind.
Mikael Forslund explains the career of the J-21 in the sole operator knew, Sweden. As for all the other books of this series, many details and explanations are given with very interesting recollections from the pilots. The text is very instructive even if more details about the accident or a summary on them would have been appreciated. A large number of photographs are coming in to illustrate the book, backed with colour profiles and for the modellers, an usual part showing parts of surviving aircraft. Line drawings are also included, 1/72 in the book, and 1/48 in a separate sheet.
Even if the SAAB J-21 was never engaged in kind of combat and remains an oddity comparing to other major aircraft of that time, this remains probably the best book available on the market on this aircraft.
Amazon.com customer review 2013-03-28
5.0 out of 5 stars (1 customer review)
February 13, 2011
By Jim Davis (St. Charles, MO USA)
The latest book in Mushroom's (or MMP's) Yellow Series (No 6127) is devoted to an aircraft designed, built, and which served in a neutral country - Sweden. The aircraft was unusual in configuration. It was a twin boom pusher in an era where the tractor was supreme.
The book is typical of the Yellow Series. It is a square bound card cover in the European B5 (6-1/2" x 9") size with 144 pages. There is an unbound foldout plan sheet with 1/48th scale drawings. If buying second hand make sure this is included. The front cover is understandably, but regrettably, a crudely colorized black and white photograph.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part covers the piston engine J21A and takes up 80 pages. Like most Yellow series titles there is a text section covering design, development, and service history with black and white photos and 1/72nd scale drawings, a details section with close up photos of preserved examples and contemporary technical drawings, and a section devoted to color profiles. Unfortunately, this aircraft did not wear too many color schemes in its rather brief service career. The final 64 pages cover the jet powered J21R broken down in almost identical fashion.
There are a few minor typos like DeHavilland Ghost where DeHavilland Goblin was intended. There is also a curious remark about the Swedish government being reluctant to use the P-51 Mustang (the Swedish J26) to escort crippled B-17s to internment in Sweden. Surely this was not a problem once the war ended and Sweden was allowed to purchase Mustangs? Also the placement of the guns in the drawings of the gun pod on the scale plans do not seem to match the photos of the real thing.
All in all an excellent addition to the Yellow Series. Previously the best available source for information in English about this aircraft was Andersson's Saab Aircraft since 1937. One hopes the equally obscure J22 gets a Yellow Series book as well.
Reviewed by Jamie Haggo
This book profiles the first fighter aircraft from Saab. The J21 was an unconventional design which despite its ungainly looks had good performance and was liked by the pilots that flew it. The basic J21 airframe was also the platform for Sweden’s first indigenous jet fighter design.
This book follows the layout of other books in this series although at 144 pages seems thicker than other titles I have got on the shelf which is a bonus.
Just about everything you would want to know is included from development, through front line use, to second line use and finally retirement. The book is littered with photographs, diagrams and technical data. There is also a comprehensive walkround section with detailed photographs of a preserved example. To finish off are some lovely full colour profiles and some fold out plans in 1:48 and 1:72.
For the modeller, historian and aviation enthusiast interested in the aircraft this book is a one stop shop.
Amazon.com customer review 2013-03-28
5.0 out of 5 stars Unconventional, typically Swedish, February 17, 2011
By John Matlock "Gunny" (Winnemucca, NV)
It has been almost 200 years since Sweden has been at war. Part of the reason for that is that Sweden has maintained a small but quite effective military. Much of their military equipment has been locally designed and produced. For no reason that I've been able to determine, their military has often adopted unusual and unconventional designs, of which their airplanes, like their locally designed tanks (remember the S-103 turretless tank), have not followed anyone else.
The J21 (piston engine) and J21R (jet engine) were the beginning of their homegrown fighters. Built by SAAB (which stands for Swedish Aeroplan, AB.) beginning in 1942 the J21 was a pusher engine design with twin tail booms. It had quite respectable performance for its time and served the Swedish quite well for about 10 years.
This book covers the history of the design, production, use and finally the disposal of the J21 fleet. It is quite detailed and well illustrated. Two color photograph sections show numerous pictures of the J21 taken from almost every angle.
Scale Views 01/2011 2013-03-28
Amazon.co.uk customer review 2013-03-28
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good description of a an almost unknown aircraft, 26 Mar 2011
By Eng Luis A. Tavares "Icarus" (Portugal)
It is no surprise for me as a previous buyer and reader of many Mushroom books before, the quality of this one. In fact if you want to know everything about a very interesting aircarft if not very well known , you do not have to look further. With a very detailed description, color and b&w photos and detailed drawings everything is there including the two versions operational use.
Another very good addition to the collection.
Amazon.co.uk customer review (2) 2013-03-28
SAAB J21A/J21R, 28 Mar 2011
By Matt (The Netherlands)
This book describes the history of an obscure indigenous Swedish twin-boom fighter called the SAAB J21. J for Jakt (fighter). It entered the Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force) in February 1946 and, in its A21A-3 version (A for attack), was withdrawn from service in 1954. The J21A was a pusher propeller aircraft.
From the J21A was derived the J21R (R for reamotor meaning jet engine). The J21R had a De Havilland Goblin 2 jet engine. The jet fighter entered service with the Flygvapnet in 1949 and as it was not really good in the fighter role, it was withdrawn in 1951. The plane, however, was an excellent gun platform and from the summer of 1951 became the A21R. As such it ended its career as a jet conversion trainer for pilots who were to fly the SAAB J32A/B Lansen from 1954 till 1956.
The book tells a thorough history of both types and contains a wealth of photographs in black and white and in colour. More than 70 photos of the J21A plus 10 colour profiles and more than 30 pictures of the J21R plus 10 colour profiles. The book contains scale plans of both aircraft in 1/72 and 1/48. Technical data and performance characteristics are presented in metric and American systems. There are chapters on the J21A and J21R "in detail", covering fuselage, armament, canopy, cockpit, engine, undercarriage, tail and wing, with lots of photos in colour from preserved aircraft. Three J21's have been preserved, two J21A's and one J21R. This J21R was rebuild from a J21A so l'histoire se repete.
There are a few shortcomings, beginning on page 31 where a 17.7 mm gun is mentioned in each boom. This should be a 12.7 mm gun.
On page 80 the caption does not match the colour profile. We see a J21A ""Yellow p"" from F12 Wing.
The caption reads ""Yellow F"", F12 Wing with white identification markings. O
n page 83 a DH Ghost 2 jet engine is mentioned instead of the DH Goblin 2 for the J21RA or the Goblin 3 for the J21RB. On page 144 is a colour profile of a J21R "Yellow B" of F10 Wing, but there's no caption at all. And on the same page is an A21RB "Red N" of F7 Wing (and not "Red 7"). vI am an early jet enthusiast, so my interest is mostly with the J21R. This book gave me all the details I could hope for and it was a very pleasant read. I think this book is of interest to historian and enthusiast alike. But it seems to have been written with the modeller in mind. Only there is no model of this aircraft to be had. Once upon a time there was a Heller model of the J21A in 1/72 scale. And there has been a conversion kit by BroPlan for the Heller model so one might build a J21R. Both are no longer obtainable. On the Internet I found a paper model of the J21A, scale 1/48, see Ecardmodels.com. One serious omission for the modeller is that no colour reference for the aircraft is given, not in a general way (silver, green, grey etc.) and certainly no FS, RAL or other specific colours.
But all in all a great little book, A5 plus format and 144 pages. Let's hope MMP Books will give us more books on those little known aircraft.
A perfect book earns five stars, I'll give it four and a half.
AIR Modeller 34 2013-03-28
Amazon.com customer review (3) 2013-03-28
1st of Saab Fighter Planes, April 30, 2011
By cpt matt (tanktown, DE)
Saab has a reputation for designing and building unique, unconventional aircraft. The first in line of the Swedish fighters is the J21, a twin boom pusher plane with a German piston engine. From some angles, it looks a little like the P-38. From other angles, it's tough to see if you're looking at the front or back. It was not a world beater by any means, but it gave the Swiss something to defend their neutrality in WW2 and started a long line of Saab fighter planes. The J21R was next in line, a jet engine plane and a rarity that the same basic airframe could be used for a piston and jet engine. 298 of the piston engine version were built and just 64 of the jet engine variant.
The publisher refers to this as "European sized" a nice euphemism for smaller at 6x9". It has 1/72 scale line drawings as well as a 1/48 scale line drawings of both aircraft in a foldout included with the book. The latter would be particularly helpful to a modeler. There are 12 pages of color line drawings to show paint schemes, 3-D cutaways, 45 pages of color photos of restored J21 and J21R versions in the Swedish Air museum. The B&W photos are very crisp and clear. The book reminds me of the larger Warbird Tech series - both about the same price - the Warbird books are larger, but this book has better quality paper and therefore, the photos are crisper. The reason I gave it four stars is that it is a little small for the price. Of course, there is nothing else out there on this plane, so it makes the choice easy - do you want a book about this?
Even though it's a bit small, it is an excellent book for a modeler, very good for those interested in aircraft off the beaten path. The J21 and J21R are odd ducks, which I like, am glad I added this to the collection.
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