Hasegawa 1/48 Saab J35J Draken
KIT #: 07241
PRICE: $65.00 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Nicholi Plesberg
NOTES: Aires ejection seat, Fine Molds pitot probes plus Sidewinders and Falcons from Hasegawa weapon set C employed.


As Saab in the early seventies began to have some export success with the J35 Draken, Saab at first made a deal with Denmark and not very long afterwards a deal with Finland, it seemed to be the beginning of a new era of export possibilities for the Swedish arms industry in general and for Saab in particular. However the export version of the Draken was in fact so much of an improvement over the original design that the Swedes began to investigate the possibility of modifying some of their own Drakens to this standard! As the new JAS 39 Gripen began to make development trouble in form of software and material issues it was considered to extend the life of the venerable Draken by modifying those airframes with the lowest flying hours to match the 35XD standard. However a full conversion proved to be impractical as well as not cost effective, because the main issue of strengthening the internal structure could just as easily be achieved by reopening the production line and build new aircraft! That was of course also unrealistic, so it was decided to do what was possible: the 64 selected J35F airframes were split into two; the front parts were returned to Saab for modification and the rear parts overhauled by the FFV (the Swedish Air Force maintenance unit).

 The modifications consisted of strengthening the intake trunk structure to allow for two additional missile pylons to be installed as well as upgrading the avionics (radar, IFF, IR seeker, navigational equipment among other things). The modified aircraft were initially designated J35F-Ny (Ny: Swedish for New) but eventually the “J” suffix was adopted. From March 1987 the “new” J35Js began to be redelivered to Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force) and during that time, in conjunction with major overhauls, the aircraft were repainted in a two tone grey scheme; the same paint scheme as the JA37 Jaktviggen (Jakt: Fighter) also had adopted a few years earlier (although the upper surface color was actually toned down a bit at a later date, because it turned out to be too light for the operational altitude the J35 was assigned to operate at, while the JA37 operating at higher altitudes, the color worked fine for the job).

 When the Danish Air Force retired its last Drakens in 1993, the Swedes bought 14 complete external tank sets and for a brief period of time, the Swedish Drakens got almost the same range as the Danish Drakens had had for years! These tanks furthermore found extended life because the Swedes adopted them for the Gripen as well!

 When the Gripen finally entered service, and due to the financial situation Sweden was in at the time, the Draken was eventually phased-out of service in 1997/98 after almost 40 years of service. Only a handful of Drakens, mostly older versions, are kept flying for test and trials work. Also one J35J is kept airworthy within the Swedish Air Force Historical Collection.


This kit is the first release that Hasegawa did but with the slight alteration that Danish decals were included (that was the main reason for me buying this kit). Upon opening the box however I felt a bit disappointed because the so called Danish “touch” was just an A4 sized zip lock bag with a decal placement guide and a tiny decal sheet with just the essential markings. It seemed to me that it could look like the Danish importer had “thrown” it in the box just for good measure and hoping to sell more kits! And not to mention the “wrongness” of this; the instrument panel wouldn’t be right and the drop tanks were too small and wheel hub detail would also be wrong! In fact it could be a good base to make a Hippie-Draken (Draken of the seventies as I call it!) with wheels up and no external tanks mounted, before everything got WDNS, chaff/flare and RWR modified!

 I decided to use this kit as “practice” before I started building my Danish Drakens (see elsewhere on MM for this) and chose to build it as a Swedish machine with the two tone grey “air superiority” scheme making painting a lot easier than the cam scheme would have presented. I also chose to buy some extras in form of ejection seat, pitot probes of turned brass and missiles to complement the finish.


The construction of this kit was indeed very similar to my Danish build (they were actually build in parallel with this one), so there is really no need to repeat myself here other than I found out that it was a good idea to have a kit to “practice” on. An example: in step 4 were, among other things, the tail cone is supposed to be glued together and then glued to the fuselage, I thought to myself that the small intakes could be improved in appearance, but unfortunately I had already glued the tail cone together, but not to the fuselage when I came up with that idea. Instead of fiddling around with separating the tail cone halves, I simply took some new ones from one of the other kits at the time (as they also contained sprue C) so no harm was really done here! Then it was a simple task of modifying the intakes and paint their interiors before the cone halves were glued together! The fit also turned up a bit better since the first attempt had resulted in a slight misalignment meaning the whole lot should have attention from filler while the second attempt turned out far better; only a slight amount of filler was actually used. The small inlet in the base of the fin was also modified before the fin halves were glued together!


I started to paint the bottom minus the fuselage aft of the RAT bay Humbrol 147 Light Grey (FS36495). Three layers were needed before the coverage was perfect. After careful masking the topside was painted Humbrol 128 US Compass Grey (FS26320) . This paint was apparently in better shape because two layers were sufficient to make the coverage perfect. The last “main” color missing was the bottom of the fuselage aft of the RAT bay and leading edges of fin as well as the outer wing sections, which after careful masking (a bit tedious), was painted Revell 90 Silver. Three times was needed as the trouble with this paint is it dries too fast in my opinion. This result in, if you brush over the same place for too long, the paint simply is peeled of by the brush (and believe me I have tried it)! After a long and tedious painting process with masking and touch up sessions, the whole surface was given a coat of Humbrol Gloss Cote in preparation for the decals.

The decals themselves were easy to apply so no real obstacles here with the exception of the large numbers on the op of the wings, which after had been secured turned out to be impossible to soak up again because I discovered a slight alignment problem (but nothing serious) so I left it as it was.

 After a cleanup of excess decal glue and another drying session the whole model was given a cote of Humbrol Satin Cote to seal off the decals.


The remaining parts were treated similar as in my Danish build with exceptions of different colors used; for example both the seat and back cushions of the ejection seat were painted Humbrol 155 Olive Drab (FS34087) and firing handles red and the external tanks of course went Silver.

The Rb24J Sidewinder missiles (AIM9-J) were painted as instructions in the weapon set showed and glued to the pylons with CA glue. Unlike what others might do, I wanted to have Rb 27 missiles instead of Rb 28‘s as Hasegawa shows in the instructions. Rb 28 is the Swedish licence build version of the AIM-4 Falcon missile, but the Rb27 is a Swedish licence build version of the AIM-26 (and sometimes referred to as the “Super Falcon”) missile. As the weapon set only included the AIM-4 missile, I had to modify it. So I proceeded by cutting off the forward fins as well as the rounded apex of the missile body, then I glued a conical shaped piece of plastic rod to the end. When dry it was sanded to shape.

  If I had really wanted to do it right, the missile body themselves should also have been altered to an opposing conical shape, but at this stage it was just about the missiles that were missing in completing the model, and I was a bit anxious at that stage to get the job done, so I just glued the remaining fins on, painted them White (and the front end of the fins were painted Black) and glued them on the pylons with white glue. Then I will have the possibility to remove them if I want to redo them or find some aftermarket replacements some time in the future.

The last things to be attached were the pitot probes and the stall indicator. The stall indicator presented no problem but the two pitot probes needed special attention.

The short one, which is supposed to go on the point end of the fin tip (part C2), needs a 0,4 millimetre drill according to the instructions from Fine Molds. The trouble I found with that was twofold; I didn’t have a drill in that size and it would have been a lot easier to drill the hole before the fin tip was glued to the fin! So what did I do about it? Well I took a 0,6 millimetre drill (the smallest size I had) and holding it between my fingers drilling carefully a hole like thing! It of course ended up with too much material removed, but the probe fitted well enough so it was secured with CA glue. The missing material was then reconstructed using small amounts of filler; when dry it was carefully sanded to shape and then touched up with paint. A final layer of Satin Cote ended that little repair session.

The nose probe was painted instead of using the decal, but using it as a guide, I managed to paint the probe so it would appear exactly as intended. I think it’s a bit optimistic to use a decal in such a situation anyway.


Despite the fact that I used this as “practice” for my Danish build it turned out nicely as I had expected and the addition of armament does bring it up a bit instead of being “empty” under the wings if build straight from the box. However some modeling experience is required to do this kit as fit is far from perfect. Apart from that it was in fact a fun kit to do and I think the photos speaks for themselves.


The aviation factfile:  Modern military aircraft, Grange Books, ISBN-13:  978-1-84013-640-1, ISBN-10:  1-84013-640-5

Nicholi Plesberg

September 2012

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