In 1945, the Swedish defence materiel procurement authority commissioned Saab to develop a new advanced jet fighter. The development work resulted in a chubby aircraft that was quickly dubbed the Flying Barrel (Tunnan). Access to German research meant that the aircraft could be given a swept wing, resulting in excellent performance.
The maiden flight on 1 September 1948 was undertaken by Robert Moore, an English test pilot.
Delivery of the first J 29A aircraft to their squadrons in 1951. 665 Saab 29 were produced altogether in six different versions. The last of these, J 29F, was fitted with afterburner, improving the performance further. The rate of production was high, and in 1954 no fewer than 238 aircraft were built.
J 29 was Western Europe's first aircraft in operational service with performance that could match that of the American F-86 Sabre and the Russian MiG-15. It was successfully deployed in the so-called Congo crisis in the early 1960s, and was also used by the Austrian Air Force.
Saab 29 set two world speed records. The aircraft is on display at the Air Force museum and one J 29F, "Gul Rudolf", continues to fly.
Saab J29 Tunnan