Swedish aviation history

Swedish aviation history

Tummelisa 1

Some suggested websites on Swedish aviation history

by Lars Sundin

Last updated 2010-02-07

The following is an attempt to list web resources dealing with Swedish aviation seen from a historical perspective and which use the English language. There are however a few references to information in Swedish only.


Some early events

1806 - First manned balloon flight by Etienne Gaspard Robertson (Robert), a balloonist and scientist/artist with a Wallonian and French background 

1893 - Balloon pioneer August Salomon Andrée makes his first flight in Stockholm 

1897 - Andrée and two other men disappear with their balloon "Örnen" (The Eagle) trying to reach the North Pole from Svalbard. Their remains are found in 1930. Andrèe was posthumously honoured by the FAI

1909 - Georges Legagneux from France makes the first flight with an engined aircraft in Sweden, a Voisin 

1910 - Carl Cederström gains the first Swedish pilot certificate in France 

1911 - First military aircraft (a gift by a civilian to the Navy) 

1914 - Production of aircraft of German and French origin for the Army and Navy is started in various short-lived companies. The most important company was the one lead by Enoch Thulin (in Swedish; a brief presentation in English can be read here). The Thulin company designed and built types of its own and also manufactured engines of French and German types in its factory in Landskrona. Thulin is also presented (in Swedish) on the website of the Landskrona Museum as are other early pioneers Oscar Ask and Hjalmar Nyrop.


Some early aviators

An early aviator besides Cederström was Hugo Sundstedt. Later Albin Ahrenberg became well-known by touring the whole country offering joy rides. Originally a naval aviator, his first stint at civil flying was when assisting in a "flying circus" described here (in Swedish but nicely edited and illustrated thanks to John Boija). In 1929 Ahrenberg attempted to cross the Atlantic but had to turn back to Greenland when he had only two more hours to go before reaching Newfoundland. In 1931 he led a search from the air after a British explorer, Augustine Courtald, on inland Greenland. Ahrenberg as he looked in 1940 about can be seen here.



Swedish designed aircraft were built by the company of Enoch Thulin and later some by the workshops of the Army aviation organisation itself. One example was the "Tummelisa" (female counterpart to Tom Thumb) of which a replica is flying. A video of this flying replica can be seen here. The owner and builder Mikael Carlson is presented here where also his original Thulin-manufactured aircraft type A as well as others of his replica aircraft can be seen.

Junkers and Heinkel established "shadow" aircraft factories in Sweden in the 20-ties to get around the Versailles treaty restrictions on German aviation. When international tensions increased towards the end of the 30-ties, Saab (Svenska Aeroplanaktiebolaget) was established through state intervention but in cooperation with leading industrialists. The first own design was the light bomber/reconnaissance plane B 17 (S 17) and such a plane is now flying again. Many more successful Saab designs followed, both military and civil types. The company is still in the very forefront of aviation technology. See also the Wikipedia text.


Websites on aviation history, air force aircraft and relevant organisations

- The "sketch of a Machine for Flying in the Air" published in 1716 by the engineer and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg is presented here.

- The official site of the Swedish Armed Forces includes also information about the Air Force.

-The Swedish Air Force Museum is located at the Malmen base just west of Linköping.

- The Air Force display team "Team 60" is described here.

- Seve Ungermark reports on the Air Force history and highlights the critical procurement aspects until the end of WW2 about.

- Urban Fredriksson has a very comprehensive website on Swedish military aviation and its history including the F 19 Wing, the Swedish volunteer unit which fought in Finland during the Winter War in 1940.

- Håkan Gustavsson presents Swedish airmen volunteering in Finland and the RAF during the Second World War.

- Lars Henriksson has a website on Swedish military aviation and all the aircraft types used, starting with observation balloons. Also other matters are dealt with, like ejection seats and insignias.

- Håkan Langebro has a well-researched article and comprehensive article on the unique wartime F.F.V.S. J 22 fighter plane.

- Some Air Force aircraft types like Draken, Viggen, JAS 39 Gripen and others are described in Swedish here.

- Air navigation services and operation of many airports are provided by the state-owned LFV group (once ”Luftfartsverket”).

The Civil Aviation Authoritity is now a part of the ”Transportstyrelsen”. - The civil aviation museum at Arlanda is at present closed to the public. The collections and the activities going on to preserve them are described here in Swedish.

- The civil aviation museum at Arlanda is at present closed to the public. The collections and the activities going on to preserve them are described here in Swedish.

- Lars Strömberg tells about early commercial aviation here. Illustrated, in Swedish.

- Rickard Gillberg has a comprehensive website on helicopters and their history in Sweden.

-The Society for Veteran Sailplanes has an illustrated website also presenting the Gliding Museum at Ålleberg.

- A history of Scandinavian Airlines System, the joint national airline of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, can be found here.

- The "Flygande Veteraner" Society operates a veteran DC-3 "Daisy". (In Swedish)


Some aviation historians and their books as well as some aviation artists

- Lennart Andersson is an historian with a wide-ranging production of important books on Swedish and international aviation history. His website presents some of his production and also includes some articles in English.

- The book publisher Allt om Hobby has published many books on aviation and aviation history. Well-known historians and authors historians are Leif Hellström (e g his book on Swedish Mustangs here), Bo Widfelt and Åke Hall (see publisher Air Historic Research). Also Mikael Forslund has produced books on several foreign aircraft types in Swedish military service.

-The Swedish Aviation Historical Society has a comprehensive publication activity, primarily in Swedish, including a bi-monthly journal, Svensk Flyghistorisk Tidskrift.

- Björn Karlström (1921 - 2006) was well-known all over the world for his airplane drawings and was also an industrial designer. Some early aircraft caricatures and drawings can be seen here.

- Another Aviation Art illustrator is Torstein Landström

- Sten Johnson, ”Sten tecknare”, is known for his pencil drawings of aircraft and also for other cultural/artistic activities.


- Claes Sundin specialises in WW2 Luftwaffe profiles