SAAB 29 TUNNAN
The Saab 29 owes its nickname, "Flygande Tunnan" ("the flying barrel"), to its rotund, all-metal construction; the powerplant is mounted within the fuselage, giving the aircraft its characteristic barrel shape. Test pilot Robert A. Moore described the aircraft as being "on the ground an ugly duckling – in the air, a swift."
This latter characteristic the Saab 29 owed mainly to its swept wing design; without the involvement of American soldiers, the aircraft would have looked very different. In spring 1945 they arrested an employee of the German aircraft manufacturing corporation Messerschmitt, seizing confidential documents relating to the design of a new aircraft. After scrutinising the secret documents in spring 1945, one of the Saab 29 engineers decided to change one crucial detail; the straight wing design was altered to create a swept wing design.
After its maiden flight in 1948, the Tunnan subsequently became the first fighter with a swept wing and the aircraft went into mass production after World War II. A total of 661 Tunnans were built (making it the largest production run for any Saab aircraft to this day) and delivered to the Swedish Air Force from 1951. The aircraft gained international renown by setting two world speed records in 1954/55 (incl. 977 km/h on a 500 km circuit).
The Tunnan was exported to one country only - Austria: between 1961 and 1972 the Armed Forces operated 30 used Saab J-29F aircraft. The world's last airworthy Tunnan will also be making an appearance at AIRPOWER16: it will form part of the Historic Jet Formation, joining all of the other jet aircraft to have served with the Austrian military in the skies above Hinterstoisser Air Base.