(All images by Sameli Kujala, all rights reserved, reproduced with permission)
Exactly one year ago Urban Ghosts reported on a fleet of abandoned Swedish fighter planes lying in a neglected corner of a military firing range at Rinkaby. The aircraft were Saab 35 Drakens, successful Cold War fighter jets manufactured by Sweden and exported to Austria, Denmark and Finland. In this series of photographs, Sameli Kujala explains how a Saab 35 Draken seemingly abandoned in the Finnish municipality of Oulunsalo has finally been saved and reassembled.
Writing on his Flickr set, Sameli said that the aircraft had stood for several years in Oulunsalo and suffered some vandalism during that time. The canopy was reportedly smashed and the landing gear lights stolen, but overall the Saab Draken appears to be in reasonable condition.
Now at a new location, Sameli’s photographs document the jet’s reassembly after transportation. The retired Finnish fighter’s wings, which were removed for transport, lie nearby and a new canopy has been fitted. The engine and instrument panel were removed when the Draken was retired from service, and several panels are missing from the jet’s fuselage. But the airframe and its paint scheme are otherwise intact.
Six hundred and forty four Saab Drakens were produced from 1955 to 1974, with the last operational aircraft retired in 2005. Only a handful remain airworthy, with the remainder scrapped or sent to museums. Finland withdrew its last Drakens from service in 2000, and despite its previous neglected condition, this former Cold War warrior would seem to be one of the few lucky survivors.