L-39 Albatros

Alternative Text L-39 Albatros

TypeMilitary trainer aircraft
Light ground-attack aircraft
Country of originCzech Republic (former Czechoslovakia)
ManufacturerAero Vodochody
First flightNovember 4, 1968
Introduced1971
Produced1970s-1999
Numbers built2,800
Unit costsUSD 200,000-300,000
Max speed1,100 km (593 nmi, 683 mi) (internal fuel)

1,750 km, (944 nmi, 1,087 mi) (internal and external fuel)
Max rangeLength: 12.13 m (39 ft 9½ in)
Wingspan: 9.46 m (31 ft 0½ in)
Height: 4.77 m (15 ft 7¾ in)
DimensionsEmpty weight: 3,455 kg (7,617 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 4,700 kg (10,362 lb)
WeightEmpty weight: 21,820 kg (48,100 lb)
Loaded weight: 41,000 kg (90,400 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 46,200 kg (101,900 lb)
Powerplant1 × Ivchenko AI-25TL turbofan, 16.87 kN (3,792 lbf)
ArmamentUp to 284 kg (626 lb) of stores on two external hardpoints

2× wingtip fuel tanks
OperatorsAfghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cuba, Czech Republic, East Germany, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Hungary, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Lithuania, Latvia, Nigeria, North Korea, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
The Aero L-39 Albatros is the most used jet trainer in the world. This two-seat and high performance light aircraft can also be used as a light ground-attack aircraft. The L-39 is a product of an aircraft manufacturer from Czech Republic called Aero Vodochody.
The design of L-39 was based from the design of its predecessor, the Aero L-29 Delfin. The L-39 was design to replace the L-29. The L-39 is the first turbofan-powered trainer and reportedly around 2,800 units of L-39 Albatros have been produced and many of them are still in service with some air forces in the world, especially former Soviet Union and allies. There are around 30 air forces being the operators of the L-39 Albatros.

The development of the L-39 Albatros

On November 4, 1969 the first prototype, X-02, flew for the first time. The Aero Vodochody commenced serial production of the L-39 in 1971. This jet trainer is comparable to the Italian MB339.
The L-39 uses a Soviet-made single turbofan engine called Ivchenko AI-25TL to give out enough power to reach the speed of 750 km/h.
The L-39 then later used as the basis for the design of the L-59 Super Albatros and the L-139.

The L-39 in action

Although the main role of the L-39 is a jet trainer for both basic and advanced training, reportedly the L-39 was ever used in some conflicts such as Abkhazia versus Georgian. The Abkhazia separatists claimed that their L-39 shot down a Georgian Hermes 450 unmanned reconnaissance drone.
During the Nagorno-Karabakh War, some L-39 and L-29 played a role in some ground attack missions by Azeri forces. However, some of them were taken out by Armenian air defenses.

The L-39 is also used by civilians

Some old L-39s were sold to wealthy aviation enthusiasts especially in the United States. The price of the L-39 which ranges from USD 200,000-300,000 makes it possible for those who want to have the L-39 jet as their own private jet. The US Federal Aviation reported that until March 2006, there are 257 Aero L-39 Albatros in the country.
Several display teams such as The Patriots Jet Team and the Breitling Jet Team also choose the L-39 as their reliable ride.
Nowadays, even aviation enthusiasts have a chance to fly the L-39 Albatros without the need to purchase it. They can take adventure flight flying the L-39 in some countries such as Czech, Spain, Switzerland and the USA.

Some variants of the L-39

• L-39X-01 – X-07, the first prototypes of L-39
• L-39C, a standard basic trainer for Czechoslovakia, Soviet Union and export. Approximately 2,260 built.
• L-39CM, a Slovak upgraded C version.
• L-39M1, Ukrainian upgraded C version with AI-25TLSh engines.
• L-39V, a single-seat target tug version for Czechoslovakia.
• L-39ZO, a weapon trainer variant for export purpose.
• L-39ZA, an extensively upgraded L-39ZO for armed training and light attack.
• L-39ZAM, a Slovak upgrade of ZA version.
• L-39ZA/ART, Thai version of L-39ZA.
• L-39MS Super Albatros, a second generation military trainer aircraft developed.
• L-139 Albatros 2000.
• L-159, more modernised advanced trainer/combat aircraft.

The L-39 Albatros videos

L-39 flights in Madrid

L-39s of the Breitling Jet Team

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