L 39C(439RS)  Aero L-39 Albatros

L 39C(439RS)

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.


  • Manufacturer - Aero Vodochody

  • Model - L-39C

  • Serial # - 131907

  • Year - 1981

  • N-Number - N439RS

  • Engines - One Ivchenko AI-25TL Thrust: 3,792 lb

  • Length - 39’ 8”

  • Height - 15’ 5”

  • Wingspan - 39’ 8”

  • Weight -

    • Empty: 7,485 lbs.

    • Max Takeoff: 10,360 lbs

  • Performance -

    • Range: 640 Miles

    • Ceiling: 37,730’

    • Max Speed: 490 kts