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L-29 Delfín
Aero L-29 Delfín
Role Military trainer aircraft
Light attack
Manufacturer Aero Vodochody
Designer Ing. Jan Vlček, Z. Rublič and K. Tomáš
First flight 5 April 1959
Introduction 1961
Status At least a few in service with the Mali Air Force; popular civilian warbird
Primary users Soviet Air Force
Czech Air Force
Produced 1963-1974
Number built 3,500

The Aero L-29 Delfín (English: Dolphin, NATO reporting name: Maya) is a military jet trainer aircraft that became the standard jet trainer for the air forces of Warsaw Pact nations in the 1960s. It was Czechoslovakia's first locally designed and built jet aircraft.

Design and development

In the late 1950s, the Soviet Air Force was seeking a jet-powered replacement for its fleet of piston-engined trainers, and this requirement was soon broadened to finding a trainer aircraft that could be adopted in common by Eastern Bloc air forces. Aero's response, the prototype XL-29 designed by Z. Rublič and K. Tomáš first flew on 5 April 1959, powered by a British Bristol Siddeley Viper engine. The second prototype was powered by the Czech-designed M701 engine, which was used in all subsequent aircraft.

The basic design concept was to produce a straightforward, easy-to-build and operate aircraft. Simplicity and ruggedness were stressed with manual flight controls, large flaps and the incorporation of perforated airbrakes on the fuselage sides providing stable and docile flight characteristics, leading to an enviable safety record for the type. The sturdy L-29 was able to operate from grass, sand or unprepared fields. Both student pilot and instructor had ejection seats, and were positioned in tandem, under separate canopies with a slightly raised instructor position.

In 1961, the L-29 was evaluated against the PZL TS-11 Iskra and Yakovlev Yak-30 and emerged the winner. Poland chose to pursue the development of the TS-11 Iskra anyway, but all other Warsaw Pact countries adopted the Delfin under the agreements of COMECON.

Aero L-29 at Kaunas airport

A private L-29 Delfin at the 2006 Miramar Air Show.

Production began April 1963 and continued for 11 years, with 3,600 eventually built until 1974. A dedicated, single-seat, aerobatic version was developed as the L-29A Akrobat. A reconnaissance version with nose-mounted cameras was built as the L-29R.

Operational history

The Delfin served in basic, intermediate and weapons training roles. For this latter mission, they were equipped with hardpoints to carry gunpods, bombs or rockets, and thus armed, Egyptian L-29s were sent into combat against Israeli tanks during the Yom Kippur War. The L-29 was supplanted in the inventory of many of its operators by the Aero L-39 Albatros. More than 2,000 L-29s were supplied to the Soviet Air Force, acquiring the NATO reporting name "Maya."

L-29's, along with the newer L-39,were used extensively in ground attack missions in the Nagorno-Karabakh War by Azeri forces. At least 14 were shot down by Armenian air-defences.[1]

As a trainer, the L-29 enabled air forces to adopt an "all-through" training on jet aircraft, replacing earlier piston-engined types.

On July 16, 1975, a Czechoslovak Air Force L-29 shot down a Polish civilian biplane piloted by Dionizy Bielański that was attempting to defect to the West.[2]

On October 2, 2007, an unmodified L-29 was used for the world’s first jet flight powered solely by 100% biodiesel fuel. Pilots Carol Sugars and Douglas Rodante flew their Delphin Jet from Stead Airport, Reno, Nevada to Leesburg International Airport, Leesburg, Florida in order to promote environmentally friendly fuels in aviation.[3]

From September 10 to September 14, 2008, two L-29s took first and second place at the Reno Air Races. Both L-29s consistently posted laps at or above 500 miles per hour. Former Astronaut Curt Brown took first place in "Viper," followed by Red Bull racer Mike Mangold in "Euroburner."

Russia says it destroyed two Georgian L-29s during the 2008 South Ossetia war.[4]


L-29 Delfin operators

Current Military Operators

National Air Force of Angola - 6 L-29s were in service as of December 2012.[5]
The Azerbaijani Air and Air Defence Force[citation needed]
Georgian Air Force - 4 L-29s were in service as of December 2012.[6]
Military of Guinea[7]
Air Force of Mali - 6 in service as of December 2012.[8]
Tajik Air Force

Former Military Operators

The Afghan Air Force operated as many as 24 from 1978 to as late as 1999.
The Armenian Air Force
Bulgarian Air Force operated 102 examples, delivered between 1963–1974, retired from service in 2002.
 Czech Republic
Czech Air Force[9]
The Czechoslovakian Air Force operated as many as 400
 East Germany
East German Air Force
Egyptian Air Force[10] - withdrawn
Ghana Air Force[11]
Hungarian Air Force
Indonesian Air Force
Iraqi Air Force - Received 78 L-29s between 1968 and 1974. A number were converted to Unmanned aerial vehicles in the 1990s.[12] No longer operated
Nigerian Air Force
Romanian Air Force[13] - all the L-29 have been retired in 2006
Slovak Air Force - after dissolution of Czechoslovakia, 16 L-29 were given to newly independent Slovak Air Force.[14] They were withdrawn in 2003.
Syrian Air Force[15]
Ugandan Air Force
Ukrainian Air Force[16]
Vietnam People's Air Force
United States
United States Navy[17]
 Soviet Union
operated as many as 2,000

Civil operators

One private L-29C,VH-BQJ. Based near Sydney, New South Wales.
 Czech Republic
  • Private L-29C, OK-ATS, Czech Jet Team Žatec - Macerka [1] Plane crashed on 10 June 2012, killing pilot and passenger.
  • Private L-29, OK-AJW, Blue Sky Service Brno - Tuřany [2]
Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark
One L-29C, OY-LSD owned by Lasse Rungholm & Søren Kjær. [3]
 New Zealand
  • L-29 ZK-JET operated on commercial joyflights by XX Aviation, Tauranga Airport [4]
  • Fly yourself in L-29 ZK-SSU and ZK-VAU operated by Soviet Star from Christchuch International Airport. [5]
Two L-29C, LN-ADA and LN-KJJ, operated by Russian Warbirds of Norway [6]
One private L-29C owned by Ján Slota[7]
 South Africa
Two Sasol Tigers aerobatic team flying the L-29
  • Ex-military L-29s are proving popular on the civil warbird market. [8]
United States
  • THUNDERDELFINS L-29 Demonstration Team
  • Two University of Iowa, Operator Performance Laboratory Used as high dynamics flight research aircraft for development of pilot state characterization [9]
  • One as an avionics high dynamics flight test aircraft at the Ohio University Avionics Engineering Center [10]

Specifications (L-29)

Another Delfin

Motorlet M701 turbojet engine

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1971–72[18]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2: student and instructor
  • Length: 10.81 m (35 ft 5½ in)
  • Wingspan: 10.29 m (33 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 3.13 m (10 ft 3 in)
  • Wing area: 19.8 m² (213 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 2,280 kg (5,027 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 3,280 kg (7,231 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 3,540 kg (7,804 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Motorlet M-701C 500 turbojet, 8.7 kN (1,960 lbf)


  • Never exceed speed: 820 km/h (442 knots, 510 mph)
  • Maximum speed: 655 km/h (353 knots, 407 mph) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft)
  • Stall speed: 130 km/h (71 knots, 81 mph) flaps down
  • Range: 894 km (480 nmi, 555 mi)with tip tanks
  • Endurance: 2 hours 30 min
  • Service ceiling: 11,000 m (36,100 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 14.0 m/s (2,755 ft/min)


  • 200 kg (440 lb) of various guns, bombs, rockets, and missiles on external hardpoints
  • See also


    5. Hoyle Flight International 11–17 December 2012, p. 45.
    6. Hoyle Flight International 11–17 December 2012, p. 51.
    7. Flight International 16–22 November 2004, p. 62.
    8. Hoyle Flight International 11–17 December 2012, p. 55.
    9. Flight International 16–22 November 2004, pp. 53–54.
    10. Flight International 16–22 November 2004, p. 56.
    11. Flight International 16–22 November 2004, p. 59.
    12. Vala Aviation News May 2003, pp. 355–357
    13. Flight International 16–22 November 2004, pp. 81–82.
    15. Flight International 16–22 November 2004, p. 88.
    16. Flight International 16–22 November 2004, pp. 91–92.
    18. Taylor 1971,p.29.
    • Gunston, Bill, ed. "Aero L-29 Delfin." The Encyclopedia of World Air Power. New York: Crescent Books, 1990. ISBN 0-517-53754-0.
    • Hoyle, Craig. "World Air Forces Directory". Flight International. Vol. 180, No. 5321. 13–19 December 2011. pp. 26–52. ISSN 0015-3710.
    • Hoyle, Craig. "World Air Forces Directory". Flight International. Vol. 182, No. 5370. 11–17 December 2012. pp. 40–64. ISSN 0015-3710.
    • Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1971–72. London:Jane's Yearbooks,1971. ISBN 0-354-00094-2.
    • Vala, Vojtec. "Saddam's Deadly Drones". Aviation News. Vol 65, No, 5. May 2003. pp. 355–357.
    • "World Air Forces 2004" Flight International. Vol. 166, No. 4960. 16–22 November 2004. pp. 41–100. ISSN 0015-3710.

    External links

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