The FFVS J 22 was conceived as an emergency fighter when all aircraft orders placed abroad fell through about a year after the breakout of the Second World War.
In June 1940, less than a year after the beginning of war, aircraft for the Swedish Air Force ordered in the USA (120 Seversky P-35 and 144 Vultee Vanguard) were placed under embargo. At that point only sixty of the Severskies had been delivered. None of the Vultees ever arrived in Sweden. This resulted in a highly alarming shortage of modern fighters as Sweden was left defended mostly by Gloster Gladiators.
From the Autumn of 1940, outdated Reggiane 2000 and Fiat CR.42, which were bought in desperation from Italy, reinforced the Gladiators. Desperately seeking a better solution, the Air Force turned their attention on the possibility to design and produce a modern fighter aircraft within the country. The major local supplier of aircraft, SAAB was overwhelmed by work on the light bomber B 17 and the medium bomber B 18. It was therefore decided rather quickly that the new fighter should be developed and manufactured by the Department of Defence's procurement organisation (FFVS).
The aim was set high from the beginning. A maximum speed at least comparable to that of the Spitfire and the Messerchmitt 109 was aimed for, which at the end of 1940 meant about 570 kph. In order not to strain the already busy subcontractor network working for SAAB, a complete new way of construction was invented. The construction was based on a tubular framework clad with wooden panels which carried part of the stress.
On September 20 1942, the resulting aircraft did its first flight. Subsequent testing showed that the calculations had been correct, performance figures were well up to what had been expected.
It is worth mentioning a few words about the engines. The aircraft was from the outset designed for the Pratt&Whitney Twin Wasp, an American engine not available to Sweden. Even worse, the Severskies using the same engine had been delivered without spare engines so the shortage was really acute!
However, Flygmotor at Trollhättan started an ambitious programme to copy an original engine - without any drawings or material data at all! Working hard, they almost managed to meet the schedule. In 1942, to compensate for the lag in the engine project, Sweden managed to purchase a batch of 100 engines from the French Vichy regime via Germany. The Swedish-made engines, designated STWC-3, proved very good. One of them was still flying in the late 1980s, now mounted in one of the Swedish Airforce's last flying C-47s!
The J 22 was a light and very manoeuvrable aircraft with good acceleration but when it entered service it was no match for the fighters then current. Tests were made against the P-51 after the war and even if the J 22 could hold its own for a while, especially with a skilled pilot, there is no doubt that the Mustang was the better fighter by a safe margin! 200 were built and today three of these are still in existence. One of these is even taxied regularly.
The two subjects of this photo feature are:
J 22A 22185 Red "K" Preserved in taxiable condition at Swedish Airforce Station F10, Ängelholm. Photographed during the public rollout in Summer 2000.
J 22B 22280 Red "L" Preserved at the Swedish Airforce Museum at Linköping. All photos of 22280 were taken in October 1998.
The sizeable photographic material of this walkaround has been divided into the following sections:
"FFVS J 22, Flyghistorisk Revy Nr 35" Published by Swedish Aviation Historic Association in 1989. A very complete account in Swedish of all aspects of this unique fighter. With good 1/48 drawings, some colour profiles and lots of black-and-white photos. It can be purchased through the Linköping Museum, www.flygvapenmuseum.nu
"Flygplansritningar 2" by Björn Karlström. Published by Allt om Hobby in 1985. 1/72 and 1/50 drawings with some photos, including a few in colour. It can be found at the publisher's site www.hobby.se