Saab JAS 39 Gripen

The JAS 39 Gripen is a fighter developed by Saab of Sweden as replacement of the Viggen and Draken. The Gripen has a single Volvo RM12 engine, delta wing and canards and has a top speed of Mach 2. It is relatively small but can carry many different weapons on underwing pylons. It is fully fly-by-wire. First flight was in 1988 and it came into the Swedish Air Force service in 1997 known as Gripen -A and the unarmed twoseater -B. The Gripen -C is a NATO compatible aircraft and can use advanced weaponry (with the two seater -D). It can also be refuelled in flight. 

gripen kleine brogel
Swedish Gripen photographed by me at Kleine Brogel (B) Sept 2017.

Several Gripens were also sold many years later for export to Czechia, South Africa, Hungary en Thailand. Over 250 Gripens have been built.

A new version is the J-39E with two seater -F which is in fact a much newer generation aircraft. It has more advanced systems, a single screen cockpit, more fuel capability, extra pylons and the new main gear also retracts in the wing and fuselage. Sweden has ordered the type and Brasil has signed a contract (with first delivery October 2021).

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(includes some notes on the TOPGUN kit)



Italeri Saab JAS 39 Gripen (Revell)
Scale: 1/72
Kitno. #008 

The Italeri Gripen JAS 39A kit #008 has about 80 parts in the usual Italeri style with good but soft plastic and clear instructions. The surface details are quite accurate and the dimensions are correct. 

Stores included with the pylons fuel tanks, Sidewinder missiles, Mavericks and it seems an ECM pod. The gunpack is a separate part. 

The kit also has been issued by Revell with kitnumber #4611, but both are still single seaters. The only difference are the decals. (do not confuse it with the later Revell kit #04999 issued in 2014). 
Whereas Italeri has the original blue Swedish roundels as fitted to the first Gripens, the Revell kit has not. Both kits also supply the toned down black roundels, but the diameters of roundels in the Italeri kit are not the correct size and shape, contrary to the correct Revell one's.

The kit should not be confused with the very old Revell kit of the Gripen, released way back in the nineties. This was very inaccurate, the box art seen below. Revell did not have access to accurate information at the time, the Gripen still being quite a sensitive project. 

Back to the Italeri kit...

The new kit fits OK, but when the following is observed when doing the assembly, it will reduce work later on:

- The nosebay and cockpit tub must be carefully centered in the forward fuselage as otherwise they will not be symmetric.

- The wings are best glued first to the fuselage left and right part, so do not cement the lower wing part yet. 
Carefully trim the upper winghalves with sandpaper and try to get a good fit. This will prevent a large gap later between the upper wings and fuselage.


- The intake splitterplate #21A on the right side has two edges moulded on, the left one #23A not. Slightly remove some material from the edges of #21A and add two small edges on #23A. This will enable you to get a good fit of the intakes on the fuselage.

lower view
- The nose cone requires filling with ballast and carefully assure correct assembly; up and down are different here. Also add the nosepitot, fill and sand.

- All the pitot tubes are best cut-off and replaced by metall needles.

Finally, the kit requires slight amounts of filler at especially the intakes, the lower fuselage-wing joints and the fin to get it all right.
putty added

Overall, nice kits to built and not be to missed by Swedish AF enthousiasts.
Next step  

The Gripen model now was to being painted. I saw somewhere that the official colours are according to the Swedish NCS1950 system SIS 5502-B and SIS 3502-B. I used these approximations as FS36373 (using enamel Humbrol Hu34) for the lower areas and FS36173 (using Hu156) for the rest (upper).

Masking was done with some tape. The reference color charts of Urban Fredricson of IPMS Sweden were used. 


The model is now complete. The excellent decals as provided in the kit of a service aircarft are used. 

the completed model, nice to have in the collection...

NOTE: Revell / Italeri also issued a dual version of the Gripen later on, using the same basic kit



Later on, Italeri did a re-issue with kit #1306 in about year 2011. 

There are about 80 parts and it seems these are the same sprues as the kit #008 described above. But it has a new decal sheet:

excellent new decals for 4 schemes:
(a)  Czech air force , 211 squadron, 2009  with tiger tail; 
(b)  Swedish air fiorce, F17 Blekinge wing based at Kallinge in 2004; 60 years F17; 
(c)  Hungary air force, 59 TFW based at Kecskemet in 2010;
(c)  South African Air Force, 4 squadron at Waterkloof 2010; 

Note: Czech scheme not shown.
There are slight variations in the grey schemes. I am not sure if the Fed.Std FS colours stated in these Italeri instructions are correct. For example, the Swedish AF colours are very different as stated in the Revell instructions. Needs further investigation when the kit will be build.

(my friend Bas told me that Italeri also has a two seater Gripen in both 1/48 and 1/72, and the 1/72 kit was also issued by BILEK; the JAS-39 B was in Italeri kit #1216 issued around 2001 and was for a first generation two seater without refuelling capability and older systems).


On to next Gripen [ Page 2...

A short note on the TOPGUN resin kit:

TopGun Gripen Dual (two seater)
Scale 1/72
Resin Kit no #43

The resin Gripen kit issued by TopGun (kitno #43) in 1/72 provides a Dual two seater kit, and the most noticeable differences between this kit and the Italeri/Revell injection kit offering are :
- length of the tailcone; the resin kit being (incorrectly) not long enough (5mm).
- The shape of the aircooling exhausts aft of the canopy;
- The flap actuator fairings of the innerflap are to small
- The intake shape needs correction.
- The missile launchrails are not long enough at the rear and miss the position lights
- The details on the kit as not as good as for the injection kit.

Cross-kitting it with the Italeri/Revell kit is very difficult as the part breakdown is very different. It is therefore recommended to correct theresin kit in detail and to built it on its own.

Nowadays much better plastic kits are available

(information provided by Bas Damen, 2001)

References about the Gripen:

- Air international vol 33, page 224 , Vol 44, page 072
- Air international vol 75, page? special. 
- Flight international 1990, number 4232, page 90
- World Air Power Journal, volumes 20 (pages 30-50) and volume 42 (pages 60-100).

- Saab Gripen, Keijser, Aerofax, 2003
- Saab Gripen, Golabek and Barcz, Topshot series #48, 2009
- JAS-39 Gripen, Photo Hobby Manual #1003, CMK, 2007

- Air international vol 33, page 224 , Vol 44, page 072
- Air international vol 75, page? special. 
- Flight international 1990, number 4232, page 90
- World Air Power Journal , volumes 20 (pages 30-50) and volume 42 (pages 60-100).


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Created February 3, 2001;
last update Sept 2021