When I were a lad, I played with the still fashionable World War II toys. The usual British and German soldiers with some tanks and heavy artillery. What fun to put match sticks in the tank gun barrel, pull the little spring-loaded lever back and fire at the poor plastic Germans who just stood there like, well, plastic soldiers. Perhaps I was amongst the last generation of kids to play with WWII toys where pretending to kill fellow human beings was just part of the fun and the risk of taking your eye out with a match stick was very high.
Meantime, there was a Cold War on, so of course I needed some more modern weaponry. Bring on the SAAB Viggen (1970-1990). To the girls who are still reading, it’s a plane. One of the most incredible looking planes ever created. A high-powered, short landing and take-off double delta winged beast. I hear you say, it just looks like a pointy fighter plane and I don’t even like the colour. You have to try and imagine the impact this plane had on my little boy brain when my other toy planes included a WWII Stuka Dive Bomber and a Hawker Hurricane. This thing’s called Viggen, it’s got a pointy nose, a big fat body, a massive engine and triangle wings – four of them! Four triangle wings!! How cool is that?!
The Viggen was designed to be able to take-off and land on short stretches of highway and be simple enough to be serviced and re-loaded by a small crew hidden in forests and hill-sides. With Sweden’s policy of non-alignment and being precariously located directly north of the Iron Curtain with a big angry USSR to the east and a big angry West to the, umm west, you can appreciate the need at that time for a bad-ass plane that pops up out of the forest and gives you a little incentive to go home, regardless of how bombed out all their airfields might be.
Hurdygurdy, chocks away!
I’ve got a 2.5lt turbo diesel, what have you got?
I have great respect for Sweden’s non-interventionist tendencies in world conflicts and get the impression they would rather just sit around the campfire singing Fernando. Perhaps after being pushed around by both sides in WWII, they decided that having some kind of deterrent is more effective than putting flowers in their hair and saying “peace brother”.
So to sum up. War! Woah woah, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing – but the SAAB Viggen is the coolest plane ever.