The L-39 was developed in the Aero works at Vodochody by a team led by the chief designer, DipI. Ing. Jan Vlcek. Two prototype airframes had been completed by November 4, 1968 when the no. 02 aircraft flew for the first time, piloted by Rudolf Duchon. The no. 01 airframe was utilized for structural testing. By the end of 1970, five flying prototypes and two for ground testing had been completed. Slightly larger and longer air intake trunks were fitted after preliminary flight tests.
The fourth prototype has been flown with underwing rocket pods and air-to-air missiles, to evaluate the L-39 as a light ground attack aircraft and this version is reported to have been ordered by Iraq in addition to the standard L-39 trainer.
A pre-production batch of 10 aircraft began to join the flight test programme in 1971, and series production started late in 1972, following official selection of the L-39 to succeed the L-29 as the standard jet trainer of all Warsaw Treaty countries except Poland. Service acceptance trials, in Czechoslovakia and the USSR, took place in 1973, and by the Spring of 1974 the L-39 had begun to enter service with the Czech AF.
By May 2010 over 260 Albatros aircraft had been registered in the USA, and at least six Estonia-registered L-39's were operated by the Breitling Apache Jet Team based in France. Their paint scheme is simular to that of the USN's Blue Angels. Despite the several attractive US military liveries, only one aircraft was allotted a US military serial, when L-39C Albatros was evaluated by the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB as 00-0439, still wearing its civil registration N439RS. By 2004 the aircraft had returned to private use.
basic and advanced jet trainer
armed combat trainer
light single-seat ground attack
C-model with upgraded avionics and new ZMKB (Progress)/ZVL DV-2 engine
C-model converted as single-seat target-tug
Max T/O weight:
Tandem two-seat low-wing aircraft
One 3,792 lb (1,720 kg) s.t. Walter Titan (Motorlet-built Ivehenko AI-25-TL) turbofan
31 ft 0.5 in (9.46 m)
40 ft 5 in (12.32 m)
15 ft 5.5 in (4.72 m)
202.4 sq.ft (18.8 sq.m)
7,055 lb (3,200 kg)
9,998 lb (4,535 kg)
466 mph (750 km/h) at 16,400 ft (5,000 m)
4,330 ft (1,320 m)/min at sea level
37,075 ft (11.300 m)
565 mls (910 km)