L-29 Delfin, Aero

L-29 Delfin / Maya Photo by Kurt Saxkjaer

The L-29 is a Czechoslovakian jet trainer, selected in 1963 as the standard jet trainer of the Warsaw pact countries. The L-29 is a mid-wing aircraft with a T-tail. Wings are unswept, and jet intakes are in the wing roots. 3568 were built, for 14 different air forces. NATO Code name for this plane is 'Maya'.

The L-29 represents the second step in the Russian training system. Producing nearly 900 kg of thrust, the Delfin is a simple tandem jet capable of speeds well in excess of 600 km/h. The aircraft shares many of the handling characteristics of the Yak-52 and utilizes much of the same instrumentation. The L29 Delfin having excellent visibility, makes jet transition easy with a rotation speed of 140 km/h and loop speed entry of 515 km/h.

Type: L-29 Delfin
Designer: Aero
Country: Czechoslovakia
Function: trainer
Year: 1959
Crew: 2
Engines: 1 * 870 kg Motorlet M-701
Wing Span: 10m29
Length: 10m81
Height: 3m13
Wing Area: 19.8 m2
Wing loading: 166 kg/m²
Empty Weight: 2280 kg
Max.Weight: 3540 kg
Thrust/weight: 0.25
Speed: 655 km/h
Rate of climb: 14 m/s
Ceiling: 11500 m
Range: 900 km
Armament: 200 kg on external hardpoints.


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. Rublic and K. Tomas first flew on April 5 1959, powered by a British Bristol Siddeley Viper engine.

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.

Production began April 1963 and continued for 11 years, with 3,500 eventually built. A dedicated, single-seat acrobatic version was developed as the L-29A Akrobat. A reconnaissance version with nose-mounted cameras was built as the L-29R.


The prototype of the L-29 Delfin ("Dolphin") trainer, called the XL-29, first flew in Czechoslovakia on 5 April 1959, powered by a Bristol Siddeley Viper turbojet engine. The second prototype, first flown in July 1960, was powered by the Czech-designed M701 engine, which was to become the standard installation.

In 1961, the L-29 was entered in a competitive design evaluation to find a new Warsaw pact basic/advanced jet trainer to replace the piston-engine trainer fleet. The other competitors were the Russian Yakovlev Yak-30 and the Polish TS-11 Iskra. The L-29 won and subsequently became the standard trainer in all Eastern-bloc counties except Poland.

The first production Delfin rolled off the assembly line in April 1963, and production continued for more than 11 years, a huge statement of its success. More than 2,000 were eventually supplied to the Soviet air force, and 400 more to the Czech air force. Others were supplied to Bulgaria, East Germany, Hungary and Romania.

Straightforward, rugged and easy to fly, the L-29 was ideal as both a primary jet trainer and as an advanced combat/weapons trainer. The Delfin was later exported to several other nations including Egypt and Indonesia. A small number of a single-seat version, the L-29A Delfin Akrobat, was produced, but it never caught on.

In recent years, the L-29 has become popular on the jet warbird market, mostly in the USA, but also in England, Italy and South Africa.
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