The Saab 210: Pioneering Double-Delta Wing Design

Saab 210

A tiny Draken

The Saab 210 prototype stands as a pivotal milestone in the development of one of Saab’s most celebrated aircraft, the Saab 35 Draken. The Draken’s striking features were numerous, but its double-delta wing configuration was undoubtedly one of its most notable attributes. The Saab 210, therefore, was a purpose-built platform to test this groundbreaking wing design, and it played an instrumental role in validating its feasibility.

Saab 210 or Lilldraken ("The Little Kite") prototype
Saab 210 or Lilldraken (“The Little Kite”) was a scaled down testbed for the double-delta concept in the development of the Saab J 35 Draken

The Saab 210’s first flight on January 21, 1952 that immediately showcased the double-delta wings potential. The aircraft was a scaled-down model of the Saab 35 Draken, boasting a wingspan of slightly over 19 feet and a length of 27 feet. It was equipped with a single De Havilland Goblin engine and could achieve top speeds of up to 450 mph.

Saab 35 Draken
Saab 35 Draken

Testing Low-Speed Handling Characteristics

The Saab 210 was a groundbreaking aircraft that aimed to investigate the low-speed handling characteristics of the double-delta wing configuration. This was a crucial aspect of the Saab 35 Drakens development, as it was designed to be an exceptionally agile aircraft. It also needed to function effectively at both high and low speeds. To this end, the Saab 210 underwent an extensive series of flight tests to probe the wing’s stall behavior, stability, and control. These tests demonstrated conclusively that the double-delta wing was an immensely proficient design for maintaining control at low speeds.

Saab 210 or Lilldraken
Saab 210 or Lilldraken

Moreover, the Saab 210 was also employed to explore novel engine technologies. Over the course of its operational life, the aircraft was outfitted with a diverse range of engines, including the De Havilland Goblin, the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire, and the Rolls-Royce Avon. These engines were utilized to examine various power plant configurations and evaluate the effects of different engine characteristics on the aircraft’s performance. The Saab 210 thus served as an invaluable tool for advancing the state of the art in aviation technology.

Saab 210 or Lilldraken
Saab 210 Lilldraken in flight

Pioneering New Technologies and Systems

The Saab 210, a fascinating aircraft, served as a testing ground for a plethora of cutting-edge systems and technologies. One such innovation was a sophisticated nose-mounted camera that captured flight data and visually documented the aircraft’s performance. Moreover, the Saab 210 was a prime candidate for testing newfangled avionics systems, such as radar and communications equipment. The aircraft’s versatility made it a prime candidate for experimentation. And thus its success paved the way for future advancements in aviation technology.

The Saab 210 was a vital experiment playing a pivotal role in the evolution of one of Saab’s fighter jets. Its ingenious blueprint and avant-garde technology were instrumental in paving the way for the Saab 35 Drakens inception. The aircraft ultimately served with distinction in the Swedish Air Force and other air forces worldwide. Its remembered as one of the most innovative aircraft of its time, and as a significant milestone in its evolution.