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Saab J29F Tunnan 1:48

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Saab J29F Tunnan
1:48 Pilot Replicas


After WWII Sweden decided that they also needed to move into the jet age, and ordered a new fighter, which first flew late in 1948. Due to its chubby fuselage it became known as the Flying Barrel, and owed at least some of its design cues to late war German aerodynamic research, which the design team had access to, which may explain its passing similarity to the Ta.183 Huckebein. Unlike that paper/workshop project however, this one flew and served with the Swedish Air Force until the mid 60s, and later in the Austrian service. Powered by a license built Ghost engine, which later gained an afterburner for additional thrust, she was armed with four 20mm cannons, and could carry additional fuel on wing-mounted pylons for longer missions.

As well as adding the afterburner to the F model, it also carried forward the dog-tooth leading edge of the wings, with a short fence at the break-point. This diminutive fighter still flies in the Swedish Air Force Heritage Flight along with a Draken and Viggen amongst others. Our own RAF would do well to follow their lead to preserve our flying heritage.

The Kit
There have been a few kits of the Tunnan over the years in 1:48, and for years a fairly accurate resin kit was the way to go, followed by injection styrene with a rather weird nose. Another kit from a large Chinese manufacturer has been released recently, but it is underscale and therefore inaccurate in almost every dimension, so our hopes are firmly pinned on this release from Swedish company Pilot Replicas. This kit is the final fighter variant, and arrives in a fairly small box in the now standard top-opening box with captive flap held closed (sometimes) by a fetching Pilot Replicas sticker. Again, it doesn't hold together well, and would be easily crushed in a pile, so needs to go near the top for its own safety. Better yet, just build the thing now, as I'm going to!







Inside the well-appointed box are five sprues in a mod grey styrene, plus a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet, decal sheet, instruction booklet and separate painting guide, both in a thick wipe-clean coated paper, which will come in handy if you're a bit liberal splashing the paint about. First impression is that this kit has moved on from their already excellent J21 kit reviewed last year here, and has more detail, with very crisp panel lines, fine rivets and some nicely done raised details, all of which will look great under the metallic finish appropriate to this aircraft.

The instructions cover only nineteen steps and makes it look very simple, which in fact it is. As an early jet the seat is very straight-forward, but is dressed up with crew belts, plus a large frame behind it. The cockpit tub builds up from a combined floor and aft bulkhead to which the seat attaches, with two cockpit sidewall parts and side consoles. The rudder pedal box fits to the front, and is partially covered by the instrument panel (complete with instrument decals) and control column, before being set aside until needed later.



The lower nose is a separate part of the fuselage, and is moulded in two halves with a nose bay box held inside, as well as a faceted clear panel behind the bay that is painted inside to complete the effect. The fuselage is also split fore and aft, along the same line as the real thing breaks for engine access, and the front section is first to be detailed with cockpit sills, additional side panels and the main gear bays, which are nicely detailed, but would probably benefit from a little plumbing to finish them off. The two halves (quarters?) are then brought together around the cockpit, which at this stage can still be seen from underneath. The intake lip is another separate part, and attaches to the two-part intake trunk, which also has a rendition of the engine front at the end, and slides inside the fuselage to be covered over by the nose gear bay/lower fuselage assembly. It is clear that the kit has been tooled with an eye on future releases of other variants, so keep your eyes open for announcements in due course. The aft fuselage has a couple of small intakes and a tail-bumper added, is then glued up around a short two-piece exhaust tube. The two halves are then glued together and the horizontal tail added to a slot in the rear of the fin. Whether you would prefer to join the fuselage fore and aft before cementing the two halves together is entirely up to you, but ensure you test fit along the way if you do to avoid building a flying banana instead of a barrel.


At this point the exterior section of the cockpit is detailed with a coaming and gun-sight, plus the runners for the sliding canopy, as well as the windscreen part`, which should be blended into the moulded-in fairing following your references. A small part glues into the top of the windscreen hoop, and a pair of rear-view mirrors and sliding guide are added to the canopy part when it is added later in the build. The clear parts are beautifully moulded in crystal clear styrene, and although they don't have a protective runner around their sprue, they are salted away in their own resealable ziplok bag to avoid damage.

The Tunnan sits on big wheels mated to stumpy legs, which are replicated with separate scissor-links from the box, with slight sag moulded into the tyres and see-through spokes on the hub. These fit into sockets on the bay walls, and a scrap diagram shows that the centres of the tyres should be 46mm apart once fitted. It might be worth rigging up a jig to ensure you get this dead-on and don't end up with a saggy Tunnan. The nose wheel is similarly moulded and sits between a single yoke with a two-part mudguard attached before it is snapped into place. Again, it fits into a socket in the roof of the bay, and has two long bay doors set one on each side. In front of the bay is a small drop-down landing light panel, which has clear lenses for additional detail. The main bay doors are attached at their tops, and hinge outwards over the wheels, with a couple of clever airbakes that slide out of the fuselage from slots when needed, or after the hydraulic pressure bleeds away following power-off, so it is good that they are included. Check your references for the correct "limp" angle for these on the ground.


No barrel would fly without wings, and as befits the simplicity of the aircraft, they are similarly straight-forward. All the flying surfaces are capable of mobilising, and fit to tabs on the lower wing panel before being trapped in place by the addition of the upper. Drill out the pylon holes before gluing if you plan on using them, or have some of the resin drop-tanks that are also available. Some of the additional "detail-up" parts were included with the review sample, so I'll review those separately later. A clear navigation light is added to the front of each wingtip, plus wing fences, optional pylon and pitot probe, after which you can slide the mating tabs into the fuselage slots, completing your model.

The F was overwhelmingly finished in un-polished aluminium, and Pilot Replicas recommend the new Vallejo Metal Colors to replicate the finish. There are three decal options included in the kit, varying in squadron or tactical markings, and you can build of the following from the box:

  • #29547 1st Squadron at F3 Wing, Malmen/Linkoping, Sept 1956 – black identification bands on nose, fuselage and wingtips, plus red C on tail and red striped rudder & elevators. Red/black band on nose.
  • #29621 Swedish Airforce Academy, F20 Wing Uppsala, Summer 1966 – dayglo leading edge to fin and parallel lines on fuselage, plus black 18 on tail, black 20 on fuselage.
  • #29422 3rd Squadron F15 Wing, Soderhamn, spring 1959 – daylgo wing stripes and diamond on upper fuselage, plus yellow nose band.



The decals have been printed by Cartograf with good register, sharpness and colour density, and were designed by RBD Studios, who specialise in decals for Swedish aircraft. Helpfully, all the identification panels have been provided as decals, but you might still wish to paint them yourself, using them as templates. A separate page of the guide shows the common stencils and position of the Swedish Crown roundels, with one variation on the nose between different production batches.

I've been wanting to build a 1:48 Tunnan for years now, as my first completed model when I came back to the hobby was the old Amtech Huckebein, and it just appealed to me. Detail is excellent, the shape looks good, and the decal options are nice and colourful. As already stated, there are even additional detail packs available from Pilot Replicas to satisfy your urges, including pilots in various poses, brass pitot tubes and drop-tanks, which should all fit neatly in place.

Very highly recommended.


Review sample courtesy of

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Great review Mike.
I can say that the fit of the main fuselage parts are absolutely fantastic and shouldn't be any issue what so ever.

With mine just taped together the seams between the parts wasn't bigger then the panel lines.


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I've started the build this evening. Got half the cockpit together, and have got some of the fuselage parts together. I'll start a WIP tomorrow if I get time :)

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Ser fram emot att detta !

Christian, exil till afrika

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I've started the build this evening. Got half the cockpit together, and have got some of the fuselage parts together. I'll start a WIP tomorrow if I get time :)

Blimey, Mig delivered yesterday, jumping straight into the Saab the next. No rest for the erm, wicked?!

Looks a lovely kit. Always loved Saab aircraft.

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No rest for the truly evil... get it right ;)

I'm hoping to start a thread on this later on, but I need to :eat: first, as I feel a bit :puke:

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Actually this won't be an issue as I have purchased two Trumpeter kits in 1/48 and the Russian atolls are perfect for the early sidewinders.

Edited by Mike Esposito

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