The Spitfire in Sweden

Author:

Mikael Forslund

Publisher

Mikael Forslund

Price

35.00 from MMP Books
$69.00 from  Casemate Publishing 

Reviewer:

Scott Van Aken

Notes: ISBN 978-91-977677-8-1, 208 pages, hundreds of photos, landscape format

Not a lot of people pay attention to the aircraft flown by Scandinavian countries, save for perhaps Finland, but these nations flew a rather extensive variety of types. Sweden in particular used aircraft both locally developed and purchased from overseas. Frequently it was more expedient to purchase a type because a locally developed type either wasn't available or was several years away and it was felt that something was needed right away.

Since Sweden has always had a strong and capable military so it could defend its neutrality, the post WWII era was a time when they were especially concerned about the threat from the Soviet Union. The Russian have never been fully trustworthy, and have a history of 'treaty one day, invasion the next'. This is a bit of an extreme commentary, but there is considerable truth in it. Needless to say, the Swedes are always ready and needed a fast photo recon platform in the late 1940s. The choice fell to the Spitfire 19 as they were readily available and could be purchased for a reasonable price.

Initially, Sweden also wanted Spitfires for fighter defense as well, but the US gave them a deal of Mustangs that they could not refuse. However, they did choose the photo recon Spit. None of these were new build and were obtained from RAF stocks, but the RAF had more than they could use, so it was an easy deal to make.

Designated the S.31 in Swedish service, 70 aircraft were ordered and were delivered within a year of signing the contract. These were overhauled and repainted with Swedish insignia and the wing markings prior to delivery. In this process, the British used different shades for the insignia so you can tell the approximate time frame of the photo of an S.31. All were delivered to 11 Wing and served until they were withdrawn from service in 1955 and subsequently scrapped.

This book covers more than just the history of the S.31. Indeed, it includes every Spitfire to touch on Swedish soil, including some from WWII, visits by Spitfire squadrons post war and warbirds. There is also a brief history of air reconnaissance in Sweden. Much of the rest of the book is the history of operations of the S.31. This includes extensive recollections of pilots and ground crew, more images of the aircraft than I can remember ever seeing in one place before. Camouflage and markings information is included as are a lot of mishap photos and tables of information on each plane and its fate. I found it interesting that none were preserved and the one in the Swedish aviation museum is a British plane purchased many years after the type had left service. I was also quite pleased to see so many color images.

In all, it makes for the best history of this type that you will find anywhere. I also have to appreciate the publisher choosing the landscape format for this book as this is the best was to present photographs. Unlikely to ever be duplicated in its depth or research, it is a book that I highly recommend to you.

June 2017

Follow these links to get yours.
Casemate Publishing
MMP Books

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