The Draken instrument panel into display artefact

Sunnuntai 21.1.2024 - Tuesday Club member


Aviation Museum Society Finland received as a donation, a Saab J 35 Draken instrument panel entity, which was fastened to a sturdy wood panel. The society decided to make it into a showpiece that could be presented at Aviation Museum Society’s stands at fairs or airshows. Other times the instrument panel would be on display beside the Draken in no 1 Hall of the Finnish Aviation Museum. So far it’s not known to which sub-type of the Saab J 35 Draken the instrument panel belongs to.


Making a display artefact requires that a safe rack must be built for the very heavy instrument panel entity. The rack will be built of metal and into such a form, that when sitting in front of the instrument panel with feet under it, the visitor can look at it just like the Draken-pilot would do in his cockpit.


So it had to be defined, at which elevation the instrument panel has to be, for the before mentioned conditions to be fulfilled. We lifted the heavy instrument panel onto a transfer platform on the forks of a forklift. After that we put a chair in front of the forklift and adjusted the elevation of the platform so that the instrument panel is in the visitor’s field of vision. It was noted that 40 cm from the floor level to the lower edge of the instrument panel will be suitable.


Drawings by Juha Veijalainen.



Now structural drawings and visualization images of the instrument panel rack could be made to build the rack.  A solid and safe rack will be made of 20 mm x 40 mm steel tube. To make way for the rack, a lacquered wooden platform had to be unfastened from the instrument panel. Before unfastening the platform, a metal support was fastened to the lower edge of the instrument panel. The instrument panel was lowered on this support after unfastening the wooden platform.


We also detached a plaque fastened on the Draken instrument panel, saying that the instrument panel was a retirement present. To unfasten the plaque, we had to detach the front panel of the instrument panel. In place of the detached plaque we fastened a plaque, which said the instrument panel to be “that of the Saab J35 Draken-fighters, used by the Finnish Air Force”.



To build the rack for the instrument panel we bought a couple of bars of 20x40 mm metal tube. Pieces were sawn off the tube according to the drawings. The sawn pieces of tube were welded to one another. First the lower, upper and vertical tubes of both sides of the rack were welded together. After this, the rack was tentatively put together by fastening between both sides the cross bars of the lower and upper parts of the rack with clamps. It was noted that the rack will be just as we planned it. The next phase is to weld the cross bars to the sides of the rack, after which the instrument panel rack will be structurally ready.



Photo by Juha Veijalainen.


The Draken instrument panel with its rack is heavy, so moving it about is challenging. To facilitate the moving, the rear ends of the lower bars of the rack will be equipped with wheels. On top of that, sliding shafts will be built to the front end of the upper tubes. The shafts will slide inside the tubes, so the instrument panel will be movable like a wheelbarrow. We found a suitable set of trolley wheels of 150 mm in diameter at the storage of the Finnish Aviation Museum.



The 360 degrees revolving stem of the wheel was detached from them, because on the instrument panel rack the wheels will be fixed. Both wheels were taken apart and their bearings were serviced to operating standard.



Next the rack will be welded together to form an entity, after which the instrument panel can be fastened to the rack. After the lower bars have received their wheels and the shafts have been made, the rack will be painted. After that the donation to Aviation Museum Society Finland will be ready to be moved beside the Draken in the Finnish Aviation Museum.

Photos by Lassi Karivalo except if otherwise mentioned.

Translation by Matti Liuskallio.

Avainsanat: aviation history, restoration, Tuesday Club;Saab J35 Draken