Aero Vodochody was established in post-war Europe during early 1919 and made a name for itself as a developer of capable Czech-originated aircraft. Its line included the A.11 series biplane of 1921 all the way to the popular jet-powered L-39 "Albatros" two-seat trainer of 1972. From the latter spawned a series of similar aircraft that included the improved L-59 "Super Albatros" of 1986 and the more modern L-159 ALCA. The L-59 was eventually adopted by Czechoslovakia, Egypt, and Tunisia.
The L-59 was developed along the same jet-powered, twin-seat trainer lines as the L-39 before it. The aircraft incorporated a tandem two-seat configuration (student in front, instructor in rear) with a single Progress DV-2 turbofan engine developing 4,850lbs of thrust. Compared to the L-39, the L-59 received a lengthened, reinforced fuselage structure, modernized avionics and a more powerful engine fitting. HUD (Head-Up Display) was added in the cockpit for improved situational awareness and mission support. Dimensions included a length of 12.2 meters, a wingspan of 9.5 meters, and a height of 4.7 meters. Empty weight was 8,865lbs with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 15,435lbs. Performance specifications included a maximum speed of 535 miles per hour with a range out to 1,245 miles and service ceiling of 38,785 feet. Rate-of-climb neared 5,510 feet per minute.
First flight of a prototype form occurred on September 30th, 1986. Production then spanned from 1986 to 1996 to which the L-59 was adopted by the Czechoslovak Air Force as the L-39MS in a batch of six aircraft. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, four of the aircraft fell into service with the new Czech Air Force and the remaining aircraft went to the Slovak Air Force. Two slightly different export marks were then delivered as the L-59E to Egypt (49 examples) and the L-59T to Tunisia (12 examples). These were all that were produced from Aero Vodochody signifying the end of manufacture for the L-59 series (67 were built in all). Its replacement became the L-159 ALCA (Advanced Light Combat Aircraft) which saw production reach 72 and deliveries to the Czech Republic and Iraq.
Though a trainer by design, the L-59 retained certain combat capabilities about her. It was not a 4th Generation frontline multi-role fighter as found in the West or Russia but its airframe proved suitable for the light strike role, allowing it to become something of a tempting purchase to more budget-conscious nations requiring the dual-role service of a single airframe that trained pilots and also offered inherent Close-Air Support (CAS) or low-level strike functionality. As such, when armed for combat (or even weapons training), armed versions carried a single Soviet-inspired GSh-23L cannon in a pod mounted under the fuselage for short-range work. Four underwing hardpoints also supported up to 2,200lb of externally-held ordnance which allowed the L-59 to be outfitted with standard conventional drop bombs, rocket pods, or gun pods as required.
Tunisian L-59 aircraft are set to receive an overhaul.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
Developed ability to be used as a dedicated trainer for student pilots (typically under the supervision of an instructor).
40.0 ft (12.20 m)
31.3 ft (9.54 m)
15.6 ft (4.77 m)
8,818 lb (4,000 kg)
15,432 lb (7,000 kg)
+6,614 lb (+3,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Aero L-59E Super Albatros production variant)
1 x Lotarev DV-2 turbofan engine developing 4,850 lbs of thrust.
1 x 23mm GSh-23L cannon in centerline gunpod.
OPTIONAL (across four underwing hardpoints):
Various air-to-surface munitions including missiles, guided bombs and conventional drop bombs as well as rocket pods. Up to 2,200lbs of carried ordnance.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 4
L-59 "Super Albatros" - Base Series Designation; base production model designation for Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic/Slovakia.
L-59E - Egyptian Air Force export model; 49 examples delivered.
L-59T - Tunisian Air Force export model; 12 examples delivered.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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