FFVS J 22 in Detail 2

Photos by Andreas Samuelsson and Magnus Fridsell
Text by Magnus Fridsell and Martin Waligorski

A closer look at the Swedish enigma fighter

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From the Autumn of 1940, outdated Reggiane 2000 and Fiat CR.42, which were bought in desperation from Italy, reinforced the Gladiators.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.

J 22 in detail

The sizeable photographic material of this walkaround has been divided into the following sections:









General view.

J 22 in faithfully recreated finish of the period. This is the best preserved example of the type, carrying the markings of Röd Kalle (Red ”K”) of the F 10 Wing. Photo: Andreas Samuelsson

As can be seen here, the engine of Röd Kalle is still in running condition, albeit for enjoyment only, as the aircraft doesn’t fly. Photo: Andreas Samuelsson

The second subject of this essay is this machine residing at the Swedish Airforce Museum. This particular aircraft was built in 1945, and carried the military serial number 22280. Photo: Magnus Fridsell

Human figures lend the scale. This photo clearly shows how small the J 22 really was. Photo: Andreas Samuelsson

When the J 22 was first introduced, Swedish wartime press christened the aircraft World’s Fastest – in relation to the engine power. At unit level, things looked slightly different and the slogan was quickly paraphrased to ”World’s Fastest – in relation to the track width!”. Whatever the case, the FFVS design team managed to produce a remarkably clean and simplistic airframe. Photo: Andreas Samuelsson

Front view shows a degree of wing dihedral, and – again – the clean configuration of this nimble aircraft.
Photo: Andreas Samuelsson

J 22 was produced in two versions differing only with armament . The first 143 production aircraft were J 22A and the rest J 22B. The ”A” model was armed with two 13.2 mm and two 8 mm guns in the wings, and J 22B with four 13.2 mm guns. The larger guns protruded through the wing leading edge and were faired with stramlined ”stubs”. As can be seen, the museum’s sample on the above picture is a J 22B, while Röd Kalle is of J 22A type. Photo: Magnus Fridsell

The powerplant

As already mentioned, the engine of the J 22 was Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp (of either US or Swedish production), and it is recognizable here by its characteristic layout of ingition wires. In case of this aircraft, it is actually one of the ”French” engines bought from the Vichy regime! Photo: Magnus Fridsell

Close-up on the cowling panels. The exhaust pipe configuration differed between ”A” and ”B” models, this being a J 22B. Photo: Magnus Fridsell

The propeller is a license-built Hamilton Standard.

Photo: Magnus Fridsell


















The twin carburettor air intakes were neatly integrated into the wing roots. Photo: Magnus Fridsell

The protruding exhaust collector pipe. Note the weld seams. Photo: Magnus Fridsell


FFVS engineers came up with a very neat, albeit somewhat spindly, undercarriage construction. on the ground, all wheel well covers remained closed with exception of the two tiny ones providing openings for the leg and rear supporting strut, respectively. Photo: Magnus Fridsell

The same main undercarriage leg seen from the fuselage centerline.
Photo: Magnus Fridsell

…and yet another view of the leg and the two supporting struts.
Photo: Magnus Fridsell

A series of three shots showing the retraction sequence on Röd Kalle.

Photo: Andreas Samuelsson

The wheels retracted entirely into the fuselage and were completely covered in flight.
Photo: Andreas Samuelsson

Close-up on the main wheel. Photo: Magnus Fridsell

The cockpit


The canopy was built in three sections, the middle section providing entry for the pilot. It was hinged to the right similarly to German Bf 109. The second photo shows is the inside of the canopy of Linköping’s J 22. Not much of a detail visible here, but it proves that I actually got into the cockpit of the plane. Psst… don’t tell anyone please!
Photo: Andreas Samuelsson, Magnus Fridsell

Rear portion of the canopy, providing some much-needed rear view for the pilot was integrated into the fuselage spine. Here it is seen from above, with antenna mount on the top and a prominent periscope for the camera gun introduced on opertional J 22s from 1945. Photo: Magnus Fridsell

My excitement about being able to enter the cockpit myself will be still more understandable if you consider this photo. Looking inside the museum’s machine, one sees an original World War II fighter cockpit in perfect condition (sans one clock and an electrig switch box cover to the right). Even the paint and all the wear marks are exactly as they were back in the 1940s. Yummy! Photo: Magnus Fridsell

Pilot’s seat. Even here everything is original down to the seat belts, unlike the seats of many of today’s warbirds. Note also the tubular steel fuselage framework visible at the sides. Photo: Magnus Fridsell

The nicely laid out Instrument panel is fairly typical for the era. Photo: Magnus Fridsell

Three photos showing details of the right side of the cockpit.

Photo: Magnus Fridsell

…and the left side…

Photo: Magnus Fridsell

The fixed reflector sight. The front windscreen panel was made of 60 mm bullet-proof glass.

Photo: Magnus Fridsell

Close-up of the control stick. Photo: Magnus Fridsell

One more view of the cockpit concludes this walkaround.
Photo: Magnus Fridsell


  • ”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.se
  • ”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


This article was originally published in IPMS Stockholm Magazine in January 2002.

2 tankar om “FFVS J 22 in Detail

  • Keith Doughty

    I can only reply in English,but I felt compelled to react. Thank you for making this material available. I have only known of SAAB AND Fokker aircraft until now. Sweden has always appeared as a ”survivor”, and this aircraft shows that in it’s very existance. I hope that my ignorance isn’t too confounding. Excellent coverage. One question: is it possible that the gunsight is mounted backwards? The USAF museum at Wright Patterson did that years ago with their Messerschmitt 163 Komet. The reflector glass is angled opposite anything I’ ve seen before. There is a very real possibility that I am mistaken. Thank you again for publishing this piece.
    Keith Doughty

  • Lars Befring

    Hi Keith and thanks for your kind words!

    The J 22 was a very unique aircraft, built by engineers with little aircraft experience, an engine that was outdated when the aircraft was operational and no aluminium.

    The m/37 sight is supposed to be that way, I had to search trough some references efter your post because it really looks wierd! but:


    and for some additional info on the J 22:


    BTW we´re trying to focus on swedish materiel/history in the future but I´m sure we will stray…. 🙂

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