The Czechoslovakian L-39 was built as the successor to their earlier trainer, the L-29 Delfin. Design work began in 1966, and the first prototype made its initial flight on 4 November 1968. The idea of the design was to marry an efficient, powerful turbofan engine to a sleek, streamlined fuselage, resulting in a strong, economical performer which would become the next standard jet trainer for the Warsaw Pact. Full-scale production was delayed until late 1972 due to apparent problems with the design of the air intakes, but these difficulties were overcome and the type went on to be a great success with the Soviet, Czech and East German air forces, among others.
Three main variants were produced. The L-39C was built as a pure trainer and was used by numerous air forces throughout Eastern Europe beginning in 1974 and continuing through today. The armed weapons-trainer variant is called the L-39ZA, and a close-support and ground-attack version is called the L-39ZO. In addition to those mentioned above, the L-39 has been exported to numerous countries, including Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Iraq, Libya, Estonia, and Kyrghyzstan. A modernized derivative of the Albatros, the L-59, is still being built in the Czech Republic. Another modernized, but very different version, the L-39MS, actually has much more in common with the L-59 than the L-39, despite its designation.
As of this writing, the L-39 is the most popular jet warbird in the world, with over 300 believed to be actively flying in the USA alone.
Nicknames: “L-ka” (Russian nickname)
Number Built: 2800+
Number Still Airworthy: Unknown number in military service. At least 300 flying in private ownership.
Thrust: 3,792 lbs. each.
|Length:||39 ft. 8 in.|
|Height:||15 ft. 5 in.|
|Wingspan:||31 ft. 0 in.|
|Weight:||Empty: 7,485 lbs.
Max Takeoff: 10,360 lbs.
|Performance:||Range: 640 miles
Ceiling: 37,730 ft.
Max Speed: 490 Kts / 0.8 Mach
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