1:72 Saab 35 FP “Dragão (Draken)”; Esquadra 201 "Falcões", Força Aérea Portugues

Started by Dizzyfugu, February 15, 2020, 07:57:10 AM

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Well, finished this whif just in time for the GB's deadline  :rolleyes: - but there's no time left for the usual WiP documentation and beauty pics (will probably added in the normal "finished builds" section, though). However, here's something that might have happened in reality: 2nd hand Saab Draken over Portugal. And this is what it might have looked like...

1:72 Saab 35 FP "Dragõe (Draken)"; Esquadra 201 "Falcões", Força Aérea Portuguesa (FAP/Portuguese Air Force); BA5 Monte Real, 1988 (Whif/Hasegawa kit) by dizzyfugu, on Flickr

1:72 Saab 35 FP "Dragõe (Draken)"; Esquadra 201 "Falcões", Força Aérea Portuguesa (FAP/Portuguese Air Force); BA5 Monte Real, 1988 (Whif/Hasegawa kit) by dizzyfugu, on Flickr

Some background:
With the end of the conflict in Africa in early 1974, the Portuguese Armed Forces went through a reorganization and shifted their focus back from counter-insurgency to honoring Portugal's commitments to NATO and preparing for a possible conflict in Europe against the Warsaw Pact. The Portuguese Air Force's F-86F Sabre and G.91 fighters were considered to be outdated in both the air defense and ground attack roles to face Soviet forces in the European operations theater. Furthermore, only a few Sabre fighters were actually in service due to problems with the engines and lack of spare parts.

After the revolution Portugal faced financial problems and the new government didn't see the modernization of the armed forces as a priority. As such the Air Force counted on the support from the United States through the military assistance programs and the offsets and compensations for the use of the Lajes Air Base. In June 1974 the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Manuel Diogo Neto, informed the US Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in Lisbon of the interest in acquiring one F-5E Tiger II squadron and one F-4E Phantom II squadron, as well as T-38A Talon and T-41, to replace the T-33 Shooting Star and the DHC-1 Chipmunk, respectively.

The United States' NATO delegation was worried about Portugal's capability in contributing to NATO operations and felt that the intention to purchase either the F-4E Phantom II or the F-5E Tiger II to replace the F-86F Sabre was inappropriate, given that the USA felt that the A-7D Corsair II or the A-4N Skyhawk provided a better platform for the Portuguese role in an eventual conflict with the Warsaw Pact, which was to mainly protect the Atlantic Ocean resupply routes from the United States to Europe.

By 1976 the Northrop F-5E Tiger II had become the sole preferred aircraft by the military command, which believed that this aircraft could be supplied by The Pentagon at a lower cost through the Military Assistance Program (MAP) and the Foreign Military Sales (FMS). To this end, Portugal leased Northrop T-38A Talon jet trainers, as part of the "Peace Talon" program, to establish and provide supersonic-capable lead-in fighter training and to eventually provide operational conversion.

Later in March 1976, a camouflage scheme for the F-5 was published in the Diário da República, stirring public awareness and political pressure. Nonetheless, at the time the FAP had already started analyzing the acquisition of the A-7 Corsair II as an alternative to the F-5, per the suggestion of the United States. This led to the acquisition of 30 A-7A Corsair II for 49 million dollars. But even with the A-7 taking precedence, the FAP continued interest in acquiring the F-5 for the air defense role and as a proper replacement for the outdated F-86F Sabre.
As such, a delegation was sent to Norway in July 1979 to evaluate F-5A/B aircraft of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. This offer was turned down, since the offered 11 F-5As turned out to require considerable repairs due to cracks found in the airframe. Furthermore, the FAP was particularly interested in twin-seat F-5 fighters, but the RNoAF did not plan on retiring any of its F-5B aircraft at that time. In November 1984, the United States offered four F-5As with spare engines to Portugal, but this offer was also declined, since the aircraft had already logged over 3,000 flight hours and needed thorough repair, too. In the same year, the RNoAF made a new offer of 15 to 20 F-5A/Bs, but this time the FAP declined, once more due to the airframes' age and poor condition.

Unable to purchase any F-5 in decent condition, the FAP studied in the meantime the procurement of other second-hand fighters like the French Mirage IIIs or the SAAB 35 Draken. Negotiations with France, even though the preferred partner and with the intention to procure Mirage V fighter bombers, too, went nowhere. Eventually, a deal with Sweden could be settled in 1985 and the Saab 35 was chosen as the FAP's new air superiority fighter.

The Draken had been developed during the 1940s and 1950s to replace Sweden's first generation of jet-powered fighter aircraft, the Saab J 29 Tunnan and, later, the fighter variant (J 32 B) of the Saab 32 Lansen. Fully developed in Sweden, the Draken was introduced into service with the Swedish Air Force in 1960 under the designation J 35 (the prefix J standing for "Jakt", meaning "pursuit"). Early models were intended purely to perform air defense missions and the type was considered to be a capable dogfighter for the Cold War era. Later models were technically very advanced and the J 35 underwent a constant development that led to a long line of variants with several upgrades.

By the 1980s, the Swedish Air Force's Drakens had largely been replaced by the more advanced Saab 37 Viggen fighter, while the introduction of the more capable Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter was expected in service within a decade, although delayed. Many J 35s of earlier versions, primarily the D type as well as some early J 35 F, were therefore mothballed and/or offered for sale. Takers were Finland and Austria, some Draken also sold to private operators in the United States. A dedicated export version for Denmark, rather a strike aircraft than an interceptor, was built, too.

The FAP was interested in the J 35 F, since these aircraft were the most modern Draken variant at the time and the relatively young airframes promised a long service life. An initial batch of eight aircraft – six single seaters plus a pair of two-seat trainers – was leased by Portugal and delivered in 1986. These were effectively refurbished former Swedish Saab J 35 F interceptors and Sk 35 C trainers. Internally at Saab, the Draken versions for Portugal were designated Saab J or Sk 35 XP ("X" for export and "P" for Portugal), but this designation was not adopted officially.
For Portugal, the machines were stripped off of specialized Swedish equipment and instead outfitted with NATO-compatible avionics and other updates like the Hawé mods I & II on the P/S-01/011 radar sets to improve its resistance to ECM. In contrast to the Swedish Saab J 35 F, the avionics that were necessary to deploy the Rb 27 and Rb 28 missiles (Hughes AIM-4 Falcon with radar and IR guidance) were removed and the second gun reinstalled. The J 35 F's IR sensor under the nose was retained and a Sherloc radar warning system of French origin, as well as chaff/flare dispensers, were added, too.

In Portuguese service, the machines were called Saab 35 FP and TP and dubbed "Dragõe". The fighters' main armament were, beyond the internal 30 mm cannons, AIM-9 Sidewinders. Typically, a pair of these missiles was carried under the wings, together with a pair of 500 l drop tanks under the fuselage, since the Draken had no in-flight refueling capability and just a range of 1.120 km (696 mi) in clean configuration and with internal fuel only. The machines retained a secondary strike capability, though, with iron bombs of up to 1.000 lb caliber, napalm tanks and unguided missiles in pods. The trainers were unarmed but could carry an optional single 500 l drop tank on a ventral hardpoint.

The leased aircraft batch arrived in bare metal finish, but, due to the country's proximity to the open sea, they quickly received an overall coat with a grey anti-corrosive lacquer. They were allocated to Esquadra 201 "Falcões" at Monte Real air base, where they replaced the last operational F-86F's. They were officially allocated to an interceptor role, but effectively they were primarily used for conversion training, together with the T-38's which had been based at Monte Real since 1977, too.

With enough trained Draken crews at hand, a second batch of former Swedish Draken (this time twelve single seaters plus two more trainers) was bought and delivered in 1987, the machines from the initial leasing batch were eventually bought, too. This small fleet was split between Esquadra 201 and 103 (the latter at Beja air base), so that the FAP could now field two fully operational interceptor squadrons. Upon arrival, the new machines received a tactical camouflage with toned-down national and the J 35s from the initial batch were re-painted accordingly.

The ongoing process of the modernization of the Portuguese Air Force also included the launching of the SICCAP/PoACCS (Portugal Air Command and Control System) project, which was a pioneer in adopting the new architecture and concept of the NATO ACCS, being intended to replace Portugal's old SDA air defense system. As part of these project, the air surveillance and detection units were re-equipped, including the reception of new radars and the air control center at Monsanto was enhanced. The Saab 35 FPs became an integral part of this system, so that interceptors could be guided from the ground towards potential targets.

This scenario did not last long, though: The end of the Cold War caused the Portuguese Air Force to accompany the shift of the focus of the Portuguese Armed Forces from a conventional war in Europe against the Warsaw Pact forces to the international peace enforcement missions. The FAP started to participate in a number of missions by itself or in support of missions led by the Army and the Navy, but the Saab 35s were not involved since they remained, due to their small number, dedicated to Portugal's air space patrol and defense.

With the arrival of the first F-16 Fighting Falcon in 1994, the Saab 35s, as well as the FAP's A-7 Corsair IIs, were gradually retired and fully replaced until 1998.
The last Saab 35 in Swedish service was retired in 1999, the last Saab 35 Draken was withdrawn from military use in Austria in 2005 – 50 years after the type first flew. However, several aircraft still fly today in private operators' service.

General characteristics:
    Crew: 1
    Length: 15.35 m (50 ft 4 in)
    Wingspan: 9.42 m (30 ft 11 in)
    Height: 3.89 m (12 ft 9 in)
    Wing area: 49.2 m2 (530 ft²)
    Airfoil: 5%
    Empty weight: 7,865 kg (17,339 lb)
    Gross weight: 11,000 kg (24,251 lb)
    Max takeoff weight: 11,914 kg (26,266 lb)

    1× Svenska Flygmotor RM6C (license-built Rolls Royce Avon with Swedish afterburner)
         turbojet engine, 56.5 kN (12,700 lbf) thrust dry, 78.4 kN (17,600 lbf) with afterburner

    Maximum speed: 2,450 km/h (1,520 mph, 1,320 kn) at 11,000 m (36,089 ft)
    Maximum speed: Mach 2
    Range: 1.120 km (605 nmi; 696 mi); clean, internal fuel only
    Ferry range: 2,750 km (1,480 nmi; 1,710 mi) with four external 500 l drop tanks
    Service ceiling: 20,000 m (66,000 ft)
    Rate of climb: 199 m/s (39,200 ft/min)
    Wing loading: 231.6 kg/m² (47.4 lb/ft²)
    Thrust/weight: 0.7
    Takeoff roll: 800 m (2,625 ft)

    2× 30 mm AKAN M/55 ADEN cannon with 100 rounds per gun
    4× hardpoints with a capacity of 2,900 kg (6,393 lb);
    Typical interceptor ordnance:  2× 500 l ventral drop tanks and 2× AIM-9 Sidewinder under the wings


I DO like that.  :thumbsup:

For some reason the camo scheme suits the Draken very well indeed.
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)



Thinking back to some of the discussions over the rules at the beginning of this, and playing devils avocet, were they in retirement when Portugal put them into service in '86 if Sweden didn't retire the last one until '99?

Whatever.  Looks very good in this scheme.  Good job Dizz.
:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..


I like that a lot!

P.S. : I believe the correct spelling is Dragão instead of Dragõe.


"We thank you, but this diversion is not true. Things never happened thus."

"Oh, but it IS true. Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are
the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."

- Sandman: A Midsummer Night's Dream, by Neil Gaiman


What If? & Secret Project SIG member.
On the go: Beaumaris/Battle/Bronco/Barracuda/Corsair/Flatning/Hellcat IV/Hunter PR11/Hurricane IIb/Ice Cream Tank/JP T4/Jumo MiG-15/P1103 (early)/P1154-ish/Phantom FG1/I-153/Sea Hawk T7/Spitfire XII/Spitfire Tr18/Twin Otter/FrankenCOIN/Frankenfighter


Quote from: Zero-Sen on February 15, 2020, 04:09:23 PM
P.S. : I believe the correct spelling is Dragão instead of Dragõe.

You are right! Will be updated. Unfortunately the build came too late for the finish line - I was one day behind, I had the 15th as deadline in my mind, not the 14th... However, I will soon post more from this one in the normal section.

Glad you like it - and, yes, the SEA scheme looks very attractive on the Draken!  :wub:


Reality is an illusion caused by an alcohol deficiency


Quote from: TomZ on February 16, 2020, 09:22:31 AM
Great looking bird. I love the camouflage!


I'm with Tom! Great looking bird and love the camo too! magnificent!

David aka 63cpe


Will die without understanding this world.


Decals my @r$e!