Author Topic: The Saab 36 Nidhögg  (Read 10728 times)

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Offline rickshaw

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The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« on: May 07, 2013, 05:26:52 pm »
The Saab 36 Nidhögg

Sweden's nuclear weapon programme was started after World War II and the American atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the early years after the war Sweden made a decision to become a neutral power that could defend itself militarily against any invading power. The biggest threats to Sweden were identified as being Soviet nuclear capabilities and in the late 1940s and 1950s much research was made into nuclear weapons to act as a deterrence to them.

In 1948 the first solid plans on how to create an atomic weapon was presented to the FOA ("Försvarets forskningsanstalt", Swedish Defence Research Agency). Plans were established to run a civilian nuclear power programme in parallel, using domestic uranium resources as nuclear fuel. The Ågesta and Marviken reactors were to be used to produce plutonium for the weapons, while also producing energy. Plans were created to develop initially aircraft to deliver these nuclear weapons, and later on, submarine launched missiles as a means of delivery as well.

All of the nuclear development activities took place at the FOA. The plan was to produce 100 warheads in a timespan of ten years.

During the 1960s the programme rapidly progressed.  The turning point was on 18 August 1968 when a 10 Kiloton device was detonated deep underground in Northern Sweden.   The explosion registered on seismographs around the world but was dismissed as a "minor earth tremor" by the Swedes.  The Soviets and the United States were uncertain whether it had been an earth tremor or not.  Scandanavia and in particular, Northern Sweden, is a seismically active region.   For the Swedes, the event proved to them that they now had a successful design which could be weaponised.  This test was followed by several more, all in the tens of kilotons and finally in a much larger warhead in the 50-60 Kiloton range, 18 months later.  By this time, suspicions were aroused amongst observers.  The Swedes though, again announced that more earthquakes had occurred.  Both superpowers though, started to watch seismic events much more closely in Scandanavia.  The Swedes never conducted another test, having proved the design and it's scaleability.

Officially, all plans for nuclear weapons were scrapped in 1969.  Unofficially, the Nuclear Programme continued in deepest secrecy.  The first weapon produced was a free-fall bomb, with an estimated yeild in the 100 Kilotonne class.  While the Nuclear Programme had come to fruitition, Saab, the Swedish aircraft manufacture had been designing and building the means to carry it.  Several designs were proposed, some more exotic than others.   In the end, taking a leaf from the book of French designer, Marcel Dassault, the decision was taken to simply scale up the Saab 35 Draken fighter.  Utilising the aerodynamic data accumulated from the design and testing of this fighter meant that the design and testing process for the new strike version would be decreased.   The result was the Saab 36 Nidhögg.

Powered by twin license produced Rolls Royce Spey engines, the Nidhögg was capable of Mach 2.5 at altitude.  It could carry a payload of 4,000 lbs, 2,000 nautical miles in it's internal weapons bay.  It had a crew of two. Initially armed with nuclear free-fall bombs, later in it's career it was able to carry the RB-09 "Mjölnir" Nuclear Attack missile which allowed it to attack targets over 400 miles distant.  It was able from bases in Sweden to reach all major targets in the Baltic and even as far afield as Moscow and Murmansk.   The Saab Nidhögg were stationed on remote airfields with hangars built inside tunnels under many meters of granite.  Through out it's service life, the aircraft received several upgrades.  Perhaps the most important were the addition of canards during it's development and the addition of an attack missile late in it's life.  Intended to improve controlability at lower speeds and high angles of attack duing the approach, particularly onto the roadway emergency airfields that the Swedish Air Force expected to be the only ones which were likely to survive a Soviet Nuclear attack, the canards earnt the aircraft it's nickname amongst some of its crew who resisted the Swedish Air Force's official discouragement of such frippery - "Puckelrygg" - "Hunchback" in Swedish.  

The RB-09 "Mjölnir" nuclear attack missile enabled the Nidhögg to be able to attack from outside the Soviet SAM defences.  Named after the hammer used by the Thundergod, Thor, it had a range of over 400 miles.  Powered by a ramjet, the missile flew at Mach 3 and could be pre-programmed to fly a dog-leg course and attack from either low or high altitude.  It carried a 100 Kilotonne warhead.  The Nidhögg carried one missile semi-recessed into its weapons bay under the fuselage.

Nidhögg was deliberately chosen as the name of this remarkable aircraft.  It reflected it's role, as the weapon of last resort.  Nidhögg was of course the "dragon who gnaws at a root of the World Tree, Yggdrasill," in Norse mythology. Nidhögg is said to have been controlled by only one person, the Norse goddess named Hel (Goddess of the underworld for which the Christian realm of Hell is named after).  When Nidhögg was released, Ragnarök - the end of the world - would occur.  The Swedish high command recognised that if there was a need for Nidhögg and it's weapons, then the end of the world had arrived.

The existence of both the Swedish Nuclear weapons and the Saab Nidhögg strike aircraft was not publically revealed until 1993, when the Swedish Government officially announced that as the Cold War was over and the Soviet Union had collapsed, their need was ended.  Throughout the career of the Saab Nidhögg, neither superpower had been able to detect it's existence.  The Swedes had taken special care to only fly the aircraft at night and made sure that it was never left stationed next to a standard Saab 35 Draken fighter, so it's considerably larger size could not be easily ascertained from satellite photos.   Keeping them inside the hangar caves kept them out of view as well.  The revelation came as a surprise to the world.  While the Soviets and the United States had both had their suspiciouns, they had never been able to confirm them. Sweden, with South Africa were the only two nuclear powers to unilaterally relinquish Nuclear weapons of massed destruction.  Today, one Saab 36 Nidhögg resides in the Swedish Air Force Museum at Malmen Airbase in Malmslätt, just outside of Linköping, Sweden. Where it is displayed next to an RB-09 "Mjölnir" missile. A remarkable aircraft that thankfully, never flew an operational mission.











The Model

The model is a combination of a venerable Lindberg Saab Draken and a Heller TF-104 forward fuselage.   Despite it's age and its several toylike features, the Lindberg kit had little flash and fitted remarkably well.  The TF-104 nose went on extremely well as well, almost as if it was designed to.  The undercarriage comes from a spare Mirage IV set I had in the spares box as do the drop tanks.  The tail cones are Maestro Draken ones.  Along with quite a bit of Milliput, PSR and effort, the aircraft has been painted in a combination of Vallejo and Tamiya acrylics by hand.  The bang seats are Pavla ones.  The missile is scratch built from spares in the spares box (couple of pods/fuel tanks and some plasticard for fins).  The cart it's posed on is a modified Bloodhound one.  The markings were supplied by Pellson (thanks very much!) after I discovered my stock of Swedish roundels had all perished.  I originally wanted to paint it in splinter but then found out only two Drakens ever wore splinter so decided to go with the green/dark blue scheme.  This fitted well with the subterfuge contained in the story.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2015, 05:39:56 am by rickshaw »
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Offline Captain Canada

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2013, 06:54:33 pm »
That's a neat looking aeroplane !

 :wub:
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Offline PR19_Kit

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2013, 10:50:52 pm »
Now THAT'S what I call 'off the wall' thinking!  :thumbsup: :bow:

Superb job there Brian.
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Offline Cobra

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2013, 11:32:08 pm »
This is a MASTERPIECE :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: This is So Cool,it Freezes me :lol: Hope to See more Great Work like This ;D btw, what does the Name of Your Plane Translate as? Keep up the Superb Work :cheers: :cheers: :cheers: :cheers: Dan

Offline Dizzyfugu

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2013, 11:45:23 pm »
That's a neat looking aeroplane !

 :wub:

Second that, great aircraft (literally and inspirational). I just considered yesterday to abuse a 1:48 Starfighter for one of Lockheed's LRI proposals (with wing-mounted engines) in 1:72, and this one shows how good such a concept might work. Nice!  :thumbsup:

Offline rickshaw

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2013, 01:31:47 am »
This is a MASTERPIECE :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: This is So Cool,it Freezes me :lol: Hope to See more Great Work like This ;D btw, what does the Name of Your Plane Translate as? Keep up the Superb Work :cheers: :cheers: :cheers: :cheers: Dan

Dan, read the backstory.  It is all explained.
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Offline Pellson

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2013, 01:38:40 am »
Awesome (and actually even better than I first anticipated). Very resemblant to the similar development of a fighter into a one-way strike bomber performed in France at  about the same time.  :bow:

Offline Cobra

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2013, 01:59:36 am »
Thanks, i kinda missed that! Didn't mean to sound like a Nutter :lol: Dan

Offline Hobbes

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2013, 04:11:21 am »
Excellent! A clever idea combined wiht superb execution   :thumbsup:

Offline NARSES2

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2013, 07:33:59 am »
That is nice Brian, great backstory  :thumbsup: Love the Norse mythology refs
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Offline lancer

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2013, 01:13:28 pm »
Stunning, absolutely stunning....
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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2013, 02:07:52 pm »
I'm profoundly impressed!  This is well modelled and superbly written.
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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2013, 05:03:04 pm »
That's excellent - really convincing idea!  :thumbsup:

There really was a proposal to add canards to a Draken, but they were just behind the intakes, rather than the cockpit.
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Offline rickshaw

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2013, 05:10:01 pm »
That's excellent - really convincing idea!  :thumbsup:

There really was a proposal to add canards to a Draken, but they were just behind the intakes, rather than the cockpit.

Yes I know.  They were for manoeuvring though.  Mine are to decrease the angle of attack on landing.  I looked at the aircraft and I realised that without such canards the pilot's visibility would have been rather limited.  Like Naval aircraft that is a bad idea when trying to land on postage-stamp sized road strips.  I had to look where I could add them and as it was already assembled pretty much, a hump behind the cockpit looked the place and from that, then came the hump-back profile and the nickname...
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Offline pyro-manic

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Re: The Saab 36 Nidhögg
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2013, 11:38:54 am »
Excellent in concept and execution!

I assume you're familiar with the real Saab 36 project, the Vargen?
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