The Aero L-29 was an important trainer for the Soviet Union and its sattlelite states
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Credit: Forward left side view of an abandoned L-29 in Iraq
The Czech designed and produced Aero L-29 Delfin (translating to "Dolphin"; NATO designation of "Maya") series was a highly utilized Cold War jet trainer aircraft for the Soviet Union and its satellite states. The twin-seat aircraft was capable of speeds over 400 miles per hour and a ceiling of over 36,000 feet. Seeing large numbers, the L-29 was produced up until 1974 with many still in service in poorer military units around the world.
The single engine performer was built from two XL-29-designated prototypes - one fitted with a British Bristol Siddeley Viper turbojet engine and another fitted with an indigenous M 701 turbojet. Further development saw a three-way competitive fly-off occur against the Yak-30 design and the PZL Mielec TS-11 Iskra with the L-29 coming out ahead (Poland would go on to utilize the TS-11 trainer however). From there, the L-29 system would be fielded throughout the Soviet Bloc countries as the premiere jet trainer aircraft.
With two available underwing hardpoints, a light attack strike aircraft was designed that could carry gun pods, drop bombs and rockets. Specialized aerobatic performers were also devised from the existing base L-29 airframe and production of the entire L-29 series amounted to well over 3,600 strong.
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