The Museum of the Soviet Army, Moscow

The Aero L-29 Delfín (English: Dolphin, NATO reporting name: Maya) is a military jet trainer developed and manufactured by Czechoslovakian aviation manufacturer Aero Vodochody. It is the country’s first locally designed and constructed jet aircraft, as well as likely being the biggest aircraft industrial programme to take place in any of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) countries except the Soviet Union.

In response to a sizable requirement for a common jet-propelled trainer to be adopted across the diverse nations of the Eastern Bloc, Aero decided to embark upon their own design project with a view to suitably satisfying this demand. On 5 April 1959, an initial prototype, designated as the XL-29, performed its maiden flight. The L-29 was selected to become the standard trainer for the air forces of Warsaw Pact nations, for which it was delivered from the 1960s onwards. During the early 1970s, the type was succeeded in the principal trainer role by another Aero-built aircraft, the L-39 Albatros, heavily contributing to a decline in demand for the earlier L-29 and the end of its production during 1974.

During the course of the programme, in excess of 3,000 L-29 Delfín trainers were produced. Of these, around 2,000 were reported to have been delivered to the Soviet Union, where it was used as the standard trainer for the Soviet Air Force. Of the others, which included both armed and unarmed models, many aircraft were delivered to the various COMECON countries while others were exported to various overseas nations, including Egypt, Syria, Indonesia, Nigeria and Uganda.

Reportedly, the L-29 has been used in active combat during several instances, perhaps the most high-profile being the use of Nigerian aircraft during the Nigerian Civil War of the late 1960s and of Egyptian L-29s against Israeli tanks during the brief Yom Kippur War of 1973.

Aero Vodochody (commonly referred to as Aero) is a Czech aircraft company. Its main production facilities are located at Vodochody Airport in the Prague-East District, on the municipal territories of Vodochody and Odolena Voda.

During the Cold War era, the firm was well known for its range of jet-powered trainer aircraft, the L-29 Delfin and L-39 Albatros. It also developed derivatives of the L-39, the L-59 Super Albatros and the L-159 Alca military light combat jet.

Aero Vodochody is believed to have handled the biggest aircraft industrial programme to take place across any of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) countries except for the Soviet Union itself. Following the fall of the communist government in Czechoslovakia during 1989, Aero Vodochody experienced a disruptive period of business, having lost a major portion of the market for its jet trainers. Sales noticeably declined during the 1990s in Eastern Europe as well as in NATO countries as a result of the peace dividend.

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