Aero L-29 Delfin

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.

Aero L-29 Delfin
Class Aircraft
Type Trainer
Manufacturer Aero Vodochody
Production Period 1963 - 1974
Origin Czechoslovakia
Country Name Origin Year
Czechoslovakia 1959
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Afghanistan View
Angola View
Argentina View
Armenia View
Australia View
Bulgaria View
Czechoslovakia View
Denmark View
Egypt View
Georgia View
Germany View
Ghana View
Guinea View
Hungary View
Indonesia View
Iraq View
Libya View
Mali View
Nigeria View
Romania View
Russia (USSR) 1961 View
South Africa View
Syria View
Tajikistan View
Uganda View
Ukraine View
United States of America View
Vietnam View
Slovakia View
Czech Republic View
Norway View
Azerbaijan View
New Zealand View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Aero Vodochody 1963 1974 3500 View

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. 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.

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.

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, out of the total inventory of 18 L-29's. The Azeri Air Force lost large amounts of its air force due to anti aircraft fire.

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 Bielanski that was attempting to defect to the West.

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.

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.

The Separatists in the Ukrainian Civil War claimed to have an operational L-29 on the 18th of January 2015.

Role Military trainer aircraft
Light attack
Manufacturer Aero Vodochody
Designer Ing. Jan Vlcek, Z. Rublic and K. Tomáš
First flight 5 April 1959
Introduction 1961
Status At least a few in service with the Mali Air Force; popular civilianwarbird
Primary users Soviet Air Force
Bulgarian Air Force
Produced 1963-1974
Number built 3500

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

End notes