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Robert Bausch
30 articles

Saab Viggen with “Splinter” camouflage

November 26, 2013 · in Aviation · · 20 · 5.6K

Many years ago I fell in love with , 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 , 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 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.

Reader reactions:
13  Awesome

4 additional images. Click to enlarge.

20 responses

  1. Robert, great detail of an iconic aircraft of the modern era. The Gripen is another impressive Saab design that lends itself to unusual schemes.

  2. Hey Rob, let me be the first to say what an amazing piece of work, I can't imagine being tempted into trying this my patience would be stretched to breaking point, you must have finished with a mountain of masking tape bits.
    Thanks for showing us ,N.

  3. You have more than done justice to this unique aircraft. As Neil says their aren't too many of us brave enough to tackle this type of scheme.
    Great work.

  4. My hats off to you for taking on that paint scheme. I also enjoyed your memories regarding the SR-71. Was your artwork ever published?

  5. I take my hat off to you sir , a splendid build and an incredible paint job, you mus have the patience of a saint to do that.
    Well done.

  6. Great job on a great plane.

    Do you own stock in the maker of Valium?

  7. Exemplary workmanship, must have the patience of Job. Just how long DID it take to complete that stellar camo scheme?

  8. ive always loved that camo scheme as well. so hard was it to do?

  9. Nice clean build, WICKED GOOD paint job!

  10. Bob,
    Well deserved compliments. Absolutely beautiful.

  11. Wow, cool! Not an expert in materiel, but camouflage looks wonderfully!

  12. You're a braver man than I, to tackle that camo, which looks just fantastic.

    I think Kinetic or Tarangus is releasing/has released a modern kit of the Viggen, which I hear is/will be very accurate. And you can get away with the air superiority grey scheme, which is much easier. 🙂

  13. Incredible paint job Robert! I've always loved the Viggen and want one painted just like that. That must have taken a whole lot of time, and tape too of course. But, the end result is so worth it. Bravo!

  14. Like the others have said, great paint job, Robert, and a nice looking model all round. I've always quite liked Saab cars, although I've never owned one. They used to feature the planes in their car ads, but neglected to mention that they also made trucks!

  15. Indeed, hats off! One tiny remark: the rwr sensors (on the sawteeth) are usually black with the text AKTAS in yellow. I've never seen other colors.

  16. Thanks to all for your comments on the Viggen model. I appreciate your kind thoughts. I have tried to respond to all of you individually by email, but wanted to post this also to thank you. I am still getting used to the iModeler site, and the proper way to do things! Thanks again.

    Robert Bausch

  17. Nice work Robert, don't see too many built even with the bits now available to make it more accurate. Seeing that it still looks great with what you to work with is quite impressive. I have this kit as well with some of the upgrades. I want to do the splinter scheme such as yours. Always wanted to do that since this kit first appeared in the early 80's. Even though Tarangus has recently produced one (quite pricey) then again with all the resin mods it does get up there as well. So thanks for sharing your memories as well, those moments are inspirational.


    Fly Navy

    • Chuck, thanks for your comment. I looked up the Tarangus (what a name!) website, didn't see price for the Viggen, but did for the J32 Lansen, and afraid I will have to pass on any of those kits, my bank account couldn't handle it! However, I would love to see one some day.

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