J-35 Draken

Marc J. Frattasio

the J-35 Draken (Dragon) was a supersonic Swedish interceptor jet developed and built by the SAAB Corporation. Sweden's first supersonic aircraft, the Draken was a rugged and simple interceptor which was intended to be stored in hidden revetments scattered across the Swedish countryside and launched from highways in time of war. The radical double-delta wing design was inspired by concepts developed in Germany by Dr. Alexander Lippish during World War II. During the development of the Draken, a small manned scale model was built and flown to prove the efficiency of the double-delta wing. Production Drakens came into service with the Swedish Air Force during the late 1950s and upgraded versions of the aircraft remain in front-line service in Sweden to this day.

The J-35 Draken was a very futuristic looking aircraft and several model kit manufacturers including Airfix, Revell, and Lindberg had Draken kits on the market by the mid 1960s. Naturally, the SAAB Draken found its way into Thunderbirds (and beyond).

Two Thunderbirds 'guest' aircraft were made using J-35 Draken parts in conjunction with other parts robbed from other kits. Occasionally, minor parts from J-35 kits were used to detail other miniatures. The following is as complete an accounting as I can come up with of all the miniatures seen in Thunderbirds and other Anderson productions that used J-35 Draken model kit parts.

The red arrow

One of the most memorable Thunderbirds guest aircraft, the two ill-fated Red Arrow test jets were featured in Edge of Impact. The actual studio miniatures were made as follows:
Saab J-35 kit built according to kit plans.
New underwing engines made from a B-58 Hustler kit's inboard jet engines.
New tail top engines made from a B-58 Hustler kit's outboard jet engines.
Metal cigar tube inserted into the back of the J-35 to hold a pyrotechnic charge.
At least two and possibly four of these miniatures were built for Thunderbirds. It looks like Lindberg J-35 (1/35th or 1/48th scale) and Revell B-58 kit parts were combined to make two large scale miniatures. It also appears possible that one or two smaller miniatures were made from the much smaller 1/72nd scale Airfix or Revell J-35 kits in combination with an unknown (perhaps Monogram) B-58 kit's engines. The markings applied to these miniatures were a combination of Letraset dry transfers, kit decals, and striping tape.

The cham cham background jet

Though very hard to see, the circled aircraft seen next to the USAF RTL-2 rocket transporter aircraft's hangar in the Thunderbirds episode, Cham Cham was indeed made from a J-35 Draken kit in combination with parts from a B-58 Hustler kit and an F-104 Starfighter kit. The actual studio miniature was made as follows:
Saab J-35 kit built according to kit plans (except for the tail fin and outer wing panels).
Twin 'butterfly' vertical stabilizer fins from the J-35 kit and a spare kit.
New outer wing panels made from an F-104 kit's horizontal stabilizer part.
New wings engines made from a B-58 Hustler kit's inboard jet engines.
This little model was only used in the background of Cham Cham. Thus, it was fairly simple and not very detailed. It would seem that one of the 1/72nd scale Draken kits (Airfix or Revell) was used in combination with Monogram's B-58 Hustler and an unknown F-104 Starfighter kit.

Enemy fighter jet

Three of these attractive enemy jets were featured in the Thunderbirds episode Cham Cham. The actual studio miniatures were constructed as follows:
F-104 fuselage with stabilizer fins removed and nosecone modified.
New outboard wing panels made from the kit's horizontal stabilizer fin split in half lengthwise.
New underwing fuel tanks made from the kit's parts.
New vertical stabilizer adapted from a Saab J-35 Draken kit's vertical stabilizer.
New horizontal stabilizers (new fabrication or adapted J-35 Draken outer wing panels).
It would appear that at least six of these models were built, three of which were configured with landing gear extended. For takeoff scenes, two of the landing gear configured models were connected together with a pole for ease of 'flying' on wires. The black shadow cast by this pole can be seen on the rolling backdrop if you look very closely during the takeoff scene.

Arabajan (Eastern Alliance?) fighter jet

Two of these jets can be seen in the Joe90 episode King for a Day. The actual studio miniatures were constructed as follows:
F-104 fuselage with stabilizer fins removed and nosecone modified.
New outboard wing panels made from the kit's horizontal stabilizer fin split in half lengthwise.
New underwing fuel tanks made from the kit's parts.
New vertical stabilizer adapted from a Saab J-35 Draken kit's vertical stabilizer.
New horizontal stabilizers (new fabrication or adapted J-35 Draken outer wing panels).
Of course, these are two of the flight configured models from the Thunderbirds episode, Cham Cham reused and repainted into a Soviet inspired scheme for Joe90!

Spare parts!

There is no way you will ever see it, that is unless you turn to page 99 of the big pink Thunderbirds book printed in 1993 in Japan by the Asahi Sonorama Company Limited, but the tail cone part from an unknown Saab J-35 Draken kit was used to dress up the interior of the RTL-2 hangar set seen in the Thunderbirds episode Cham Cham.
This page published originally at the Supermarionation sfx WebSite
text ©1996 Marc J. Frattasio; not for reproduction for profit without his express permission