Saab Viggen with “Splinter” camouflage
Many years ago I fell in love with Saab, both aircraft and cars. In September 1974 I flew from Beale AFB to Farnborough in England, in the C-141 support aircraft, as an Air Force artist covering the Lockheed SR-71 record breaking flight from New York to London. This was during the Farnborough International Air Show, so there was a lot to see in addition to the Blackbird. But as far as things and people associated with the SR-71, making this trip, and then meeting Kelly Johnson in person in Lockheed's hospitality chalet was sure something I'll never forget.
The Swedish Air Force sent two of their new multi role fighter, the Saab J37 Viggen, and I was lucky enough to see them fly. I came home with a lasting memory of these impressive, and unusual looking aircraft doing their airshow demonstration. The physical pressure of their jet exhaust on my body at take off was something I've never experienced, before, or after. I thought if Saab can build an aircraft like that, their cars must be pretty good. It took 21 years before I was able to realize my dream of owning a Saab, and I still try to keep my 1995 9000CSE looking and running well, even if Saab Automobile are out of business! It is a great car.
When ESCI came out with their 1/48 kit of the AJ37 Viggen, I knew I had to build it. It is not the best kit, but still appears to be the only one in that scale. This was quite a few years ago (30+), when we lived in the City (San Francisco), but I still have the model, warts and all. As I recall, it seemed to have an error in the shape of the lower fuselage in the front wheel well/cockpit area, which I attempted to correct, and was fairly successful at that.
The “Splinter” camouflage was the standard finish for the AJ37 fighter, so I had to give it a try, in spite of its complexity. ESCI provided a guide for this scheme, so I took it to my “pre press” (before desktop computers) supplier downtown and had them enlarge it to 1/48 scale, and make some photostats. This has got to be the most difficult paint job I've ever done on a model, and I felt at the time that it came out pretty well. I still do, and hope I don't have to do it again, I think that's one reason I kept the model!
I was just watching on YouTube a demonstration flight of a Viggen at Waddington Airshow in England in July this year (2013), so they are still flying the Viggen. I think they call it the “Historic Flight”, not sure if it is the Swedish Air Force, or a civilian outfit that does this. They were even flying the J29 Tunnan at the same show.
Amazing airplanes (and cars) from Saab.