Skrivet av: Sven Wennerström | 12 juli, 2010

Flygvapenmuseum i Linköping

Var flygblogg med självaktning bör ha ett stycke om det nyinvigda Flygvapenmuseum i Linköping. Dock gör min geografiska belägenhet att det är svårt att företa en reportageresa till Malmslätt. Så istället skickar bloggen sin östgötacorrespondent Richard för att skriva och plåta. Här är vad han har att rapportera:

After my trip to the US to see C and Sven in April of 2010, and the much appreciated excursions with Sven to the Smithsonian aerospace collections it is only fitting that I file a report on the topic of the newly renovated Swedish Air Force Museum, conveniently located a mere two miles from where I live in Linköping, Sweden.

The museum is located at the perimeter of the Malmen airbase just outside Linköping. The collections have been aggregated over the years mainly due to the work of prominent members of the Swedish Air Force and has later been carried out in a more or less organised fashion since the 1950’s by, for instance, the Federal Agency for Defence Museums, various societies for historical aviation as well as members of the Swedish military industrial complex (who built the stuff in the first place).

For many years the collections were housed in a barn like non-descript hangar structure outside town but was not really accessible to the general public. The first steps towards the modern museum of today was taken in 1977 and it took until 1984 before king Carl XVI Gustav could cut the ribbon to the first wing of the museum. It has since grown in stages and the last one was celebrated with a grand reopening on June 12, 2010. I opted to wait until a less crowded day to see the museum and instead spent the day mimicking an aviation photograpgher/journalist in order to get VIP treatment at the air base for the airshow. But that’s another story altogether.

Being a very thorough person by nature, and fully aware of Sven’s high standards when it comes to photographic documentation, I’ve been to the museum twice before writing this. For the first visit I had the opportunity to enlist a person with an abundance of rare knowledge of the collections and insight in the history behind them; a now retired General of the Swedish Air Force. Or as I like to call him, ”Dad”. He has so much information on the airplanes that all I occasionally wished for was an ”OFF” switch, or at least a ”mute” button. ;-) The second visit was mostly to redo some of the pictures I botched the first time and to see if the cute little blonde… never mind. She wasn’t.

First impression is as always important and I was pretty pleased to see the entrance/lobby/gift shop laid out to follow what I now consider to be international standard for places like this. There’s a sense of freshness to the site and plenty of space in all dimensions. Admission was 50 Skr (approx. $6.60) for adults and was handled swiftly and cheerfully. Entry to the oldest parts of the exhibition is through a corridor to the left and I actually felt my HR speeding up as my field of view started filling with gleaming metal, struts and fabric.

In comparison to earlier visits there have been significant changes to the display. The aeroplanes have been rearranged and some have been rotated in from storage. Most significantly, the lighting has undergone a complete reworking. Before there was a sort of uniform fluorescent general lighting, not unlike any other public facility today. Now there are about a thousand spotlights shining down in all directions, creating all sorts of highlights around the various planes. Over-all lighting is instead low bordering on dim. It’s very pretty but makes for difficult photography unless you have a pretty serious flash unit or a tripod for the camera to tackle longer shutter speeds.

It’s definitely a ”visitor’s museum”. All but a few of the oldest and more fragile vintage airplanes are just parked on the museum floor, totally devoid of any barriers. All that’s keeping you from touching is your own common sense. This was expertly demonstrated by a 10-year-old who in no-time figured out how to unlock and open all the hatches on the airplanes. As these are meant to be easy to open I didn’t understand the need for the levels of parental stress that was subsequently displayed. Later I did some demonstrating of my own when positioning for ”another perfect shot” while backing my head into some or other very sharp edge of a wing designed for supersonic performance. Father was amused until he bounced off something himself.

One strange detail is the soft musical score that keeps playing in the background. It’s barely perceptible but after listening intently I identified it as Ravels ”Bolero”. Neither I nor Dad could make a decent connection to aviation so naturally we drifted into a discussion covering the imaginative use of the same music in the 1979 movie ”10” with Dudley Moore and Bo Derek.

Overlooking the main exhibition is the new ”Flight Lab”, where the magic of flight and aviation is explained in a way that small children are able to understand but unable to break. There’s a small wind tunnel where you can try to control a tethered RC-model, a demonstration of the basic principle behind hovercrafts as well as an assortment of computerised flight simulators. One of them is a transfer/gift from SAAB Aerospace (Manufacturers of the Gripen Fighter) and is deemed such a pretty serious piece of harware that it warrants an instructor to assist you if you feel like taking to the skies in it. The rest is just consumer grade simulators with somewhat beefed up graphics, nothing to get exited about. I have high standards when it comes to rides and ”sensorial immersion” and since most publicly available activities are engineered to make it damn near impossible to even get close to getting hurt, excited, or left with a new cool scar I tent to find them less than challenging and rather just walk away.

Luckily for me there is a brand new pavillion to walk into. This one is dedicated to the ”Cold War” years, a very significant period in Swedish history where we fully believed in the possibility of a Soviet attack. It all started pretty soon after WW2 with the formations of NATO and the Soviet dominated Warsaw Pact, with Sweden in the very middle (at least from our point of view). For years our nation pursued an ”alliance free politic” while constantly keeping an open eye towards the east and bombing the crap out of anything we tagged as an intruding Soviet submarine.

If we ever hit any is to this day not public knowledge. My own memories of this era begin during the early 1980’s and to my absolute horror an entire living room has been recreated from that time. With the simple act of stepping through a doorframe I was pulled 25 years back in time. The furniture, the ancient home electronics, the broadcasts and the My Little Ponies… it induced nausea but I could take it. What finally drove me back out of the room with mild signs of panic was the music I’ve fought SO hard to forget.

The aircrafts on display are mainly the ones I remember from my childhood, with some exceptions that date back to the 1950’s. It was stunning to learn how far advanced the plans for a Swedish nuclear weapon were before the project was scrapped. The Wold could have taken many strange turns had that been realised and I for one am happy it wasn’t.

he ”piece the resistance” of the new exhibition is the recovered remains of the Swedish DC-3 SIGINT plane that was shot down over the Baltic Sea on June 13 1952 by Soviet fighters. It was lost on the sea floor at a depth of 125 meters (410 ft) for over 50 years until it was discovered by a privately financed group in 2003 and later salvaged by the Swedish Navy.

The entire basement floor is dedicated to the climate controlled display of the wreckage, the recovered artefacts and the presentation of the now declassified information regarding the airplanes mission and grim faith. Sweden has not been at war since 1814 and I guess this is as close as we come to a modern day war memorial. It’s a sobering experience to watch and in a way it feels good to se ”one of our own” brought home for a final rest after so long.

The rest of the museum is a cafeteria with excellent cake and an open courtyard (patterned after a small airfield with miniature pedal driven P-51 Mustangs for the kids. I would not fit.) to enjoy them in as well as a well stocked research library with every book I ever read as young boy. In order not to be ruined from admissions I’ll probably join one of the historical societies that enjoy free admittance to the museum. That way I can indulge myself whenever I feel like it. I recommend a visit to anybody even remotely interested in aviation or general history, aerospace technology or brownies.



  1. Om jag tillåts att lämna lite reklam här så har jag skrivit lite om det svenska kärnvapenprogrammet på min egen blogg Fordomsteknik:

    • Det går alldeles utmärkt! Jag hade lyckats missa din blogg – det verkar som om jag har massor av intressant att läsa ikapp.

  2. […] namn Richard, gjort ett mer utförligt reportage från Flygvapenmuseum som finns på Sven W:s blogg här.  (Hur kommer det sig att vi ännu inte på SFF forum sett någon recension av det omgjorda […]

  3. […] Jag googlade efter några omdömen och reportage från det nyöppnade museet och förutom någon äldre f d FV-officers missnöje (se tillägg nedan) med vad som skrevs på någon info-skylt fann jag inte mycket. (Själv undrar jag varför man visar en sovjetisk mini-ubåt i samband med DC-3:an – det verkar inte helt seriöst men jag har ju faktiskt inte varit där ännu.) Så fann jag en berättelse om ett besök, skrivit av vad jag tror är en lekman. Och det är väl sådana som egentligen skall bedöma museet. Specialister och nördar har sin speciella synpunkter, och det gäller alla museer. (Tidigare har jag tipsat om detta trevliga reportage.) […]

  4. […] har jag tipsat om en bra berättelse om ett besök på vårt flygvapenmuseum och så har jag skrivit litet själv med bl a litet om hur utställningen såg ut tidigare med […]


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