The aircraft factory SAAB in Lindkøping started development of a small flying school and training aircraft in 1944. The starting point was the aircraft type Bücker Bu 181 Bestmann. The result was a reliable training aircraft for basic training of new pilots. The 91B model became a success when it came onto the market in 1949. The aircraft type was later exported to several countries, for both civil and military use. When the Swedish aircraft factory became occupied with building fighters, production of the SAAB Safir was transferred to an aircraft factory in the Netherlands from 1952 to 1955. 120 Safir 91Bs were built there.
After Norway became a member of NATO in 1949, the military training of Norwegian pilots was placed in the USA. However, basic training and selection was to take place in Norway and the Fairchild Cornell trainer was used for this in the early 1950s. In 1954 Norway decided to buy new training aircraft out of its own resources and the RNoAF was at liberty to select the type of aircraft. The choice fell on the SAAB Safir 91B-2 and 25 aircraft were ordered. The Flying School received 14 new trainers in 1957 and the SAAB Safir became a fond memory for many pilots until the aircraft type was phased out in 1982.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force Museum’s SAAB Safir 91B-2 has works number 91-337. The aircraft was initially allocated to the Flying School at Værnes and marked U-AR, but after a short time it was transferred to a unit at Rygge Air Station as a communications aircraft. It then began a roaming existence between various units until in 1976 it wound up at the Flying School again and stayed there until the aircraft type was phased out in 1982. After that “337” was transferred to the Norwegian Defence Museum and now is part of The Royal Norwegian Air Force Museum’s exhibition in Bodø.
The aircraft has a chrome yellow fuselage with black registration markings. There are RNoAF roundels on top of the left wing and underneath the right wing, and on both sides of the fuselage. The number on the tail fin is black. The top engine cowling is black anti-glare and the bottom and side panels are day-glow red, with the aircraft’s number in black. The tail section ahead of the vertical fin, and the wing tips, are in day-glow red.
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