The Swedish Air Force or 'Flygvapnet' was created on July 1,1926 when the aviation units of the Army and Navy were merged. Because of the escalating international tension during the 1930s the Air Force was reorganised and expanded from four to seven squadrons. When the Second World War broke out in 1939, a further growth was initiated and this expansion was not finished until the end of the War. Although Sweden never entered the War, a large air force was considered necessary to ward off the threat of invasion, and to resist pressure through military threats. By 1945 the Swedish Air Force had over 800 combat-ready aircraft, including fifteen fighter divisions. A major problem for the Swedish Air Force during World War II was the lack of fuel as Sweden was surrounded by countries at war and could not rely on imported oil. Instead shale oil was produced for the much-needed petrol. The Swedish Air Force underwent a rapid modernisation post-1945, and it became no longer politically acceptable to equip its forces with second-rate models. Instead, the air staff purchased the best it could find from abroad, and as such aircraft like the P-51D Mustang, the de Havilland Mosquito NF.19 and de Havilland Vampires were introduced, whilst its aviation industry geared up to build some of the most eclectic fighters ever produced. When the SAAB J 29 Tunnan light fighter was introduced around 1950, Sweden suddenly had aircraft that were equal to the best that the RAF, USAF and Soviet forces could field.
When the kit review parcel arrived in the mail, I found it was accompanied by Eduard's (#73459) self-adhesive A-4B etched fret and Pavla's resin (#C72110) Douglas A-4B/P Skyhawk cockpit interior set. Also included was the Eduard flexible mask A-4B set (#CX335), however I chose to not use that set, relying instead, on my painting skills. I immediately noticed the fine engravings of the kit, from nicely recessed and in-scale panel lines to the crispness of the flash-free parts. A little trimming up front is necessary for the fuselage halves to accommodate the Pavla resin cockpit parts. They consisted of a nicely detailed ejection seat, instrument panel, rudder pedals and a new replacement cockpit coaming. The Eduard self-adhesive set includes seat belts and shoulder harnesses as well as etched metal additions to the slats and dive brakes, thus providing lots of raised and in-scale detail. Replacement combination one-piece flaps and wing dive brakes, designed to replace those moulded integrally with the kit wings, needed careful bending and one must get the resultant 'V' angle correct so the wing tanks will clear the lowered flaps when installed.
ARBS (aerial refuelling boom system) will begin early next year. This will follow manufacturer's trials and subsequent INTA certification using an Australian aircraft retained in Madrid for the purpose during 2013. Antonio Caramazana, Programme Director, Airbus Military Derivatives, told reporters that the RAF had received four Voyagers (three tankers and a transport aircraft) by the beginning of May and two further aircraft were due in May and June. The RAF's Tornado GR4 fleet received clearance to refuel from the Voyager on May 16 when the UK Ministry of Defence issued the Voyager's Release to Service for the type. The first air-refuelling sortie with Tornado GR4s was completed on May 20. Typhoon is due to receive its clearance to refuel from Voyager by the end of July. Caramazana also reported that all three Saudi MRTTs have now been delivered (with one retained in Madrid for training) and have been refuelling Royal Saudi Air Force Tornado and Typhoon fighters.
The later model Canadair Sabres were a significant improvement on the great North American F-86 Sabre, and were used by the RCAF and RAF in Europe during the Cold War. It was the RCAF that provided 12 squadrons for the Northern European NATO fighter force throughout the 1950s. Sabres were flown to Europe from Canada, no small feat itself, and at risk of Russian signal misdirection. Two squadrons (on rotation) were kept on a 5min and 15min alert status known as "Zulu", with fully-armed Sabres. While the only live gunnery was practiced off Decimomannu in Sardinia, over Northern Europe they conducted intercepts and mock combats against their sister squadrons. Group Captain Arnie Bauer, RCAF, remembered: "That was the time when we ruled the skies in Europe, there was no doubt about it. The only way that the USAF Super Sabre drivers or the Super Mystere guys of the French Air Force had an edge on us was when they stuck to hit and run tactics, using their aeroplanes as they had been intended. If they felt that maybe they could turn with us, or stay and fight, then we had them."