Mike Posted October 31, 2022 Share Posted October 31, 2022 Aero L-29 Delfin – Warpaint #134 Guideline Publications The Aero L-29 Delfin started life in early 1950s Czechoslovakia as a trainer requirement for their own forces, but with a view to acquiring additional sales from overseas. They intended to use an indigenous engine, but the development of that went on for an extended period, with smuggled British engines used in the interim due to similar performance characteristics to what was expected from the M701 once its troubles were resolved. In order to widen the market, they sought assistance and allowed input from their Soviet neighbours, eventually competing with a Polish and a Russian design to gain the contract for the standard Soviet trainer, something that wasn’t initially envisaged. Despite some corruption and favouritism by various parties, the Polish TS-11 dropped out and went on to have a successful career elsewhere as a trainer, and the Russian Yak-104 too was side-lined after yet more skulduggery and accusations thereof. This left the field clear for the Delfin, which had been designed from outset accommodate basic weapons carriage that would widen its appeal further, although it did make for a heavier airframe that gave its detractors ammunition during the in-fighting. The type went on to become a successful aircraft thanks to the forward-thinking of its designers, and the ready market amongst the Soviet umbrella and its allies, leading to a total of over 3,600 airframes being made into the early 70s, when it was replaced by another Aero product, the dart-like L-39, which is a firm favourite at airshows wherever it attends. The number of overseas buyers of the type was impressive, with some airframes seeing ownership by two or three countries over the years, thanks to a long service life that was a contributory factor to the aircraft winning the competition in the first place. As late as 2014, break-away areas in Ukraine were seen to be showing off L-29s as part of their nascent air forces, although whether these aircraft were capable of flight was up for debate, as at least one had been in civilian hands beforehand and was probably unable to fly. The Book The book by author Jakub Fojtík Ph.D is in the usual Warpaint format of portrait A4(ish) with a soft card cover but for the time being at least, with higher page counts of recent editions, it utilises a perfect binding instead of the usual pair of staples to accommodate the genuine total of 68 pages plus content printed on the four sides of the glossy covers, including a centre-page spread of plans in 1:72, penned by Petr Kolmann. The initial section details the birth of the type in great detail, with some interesting titbits of information included, then the subsequent pages detail the numerous foreign and domestic operators throughout the rest of the book, alphabetically sorted. Many of the photos are in colour, with some from the many overseas operators such as Iraq and Uganda as well as the usual official sources and historical records that were kept by the developers and manufacturers. The pages include a lot of useful photos with informative captions of aircraft on the apron, on the field, in the air, during trials, and even a few photos of the short-lived reconnaissance variant the L-29R, and the single-seat aerobatic L-29A of which only two were made. The Profiles section shows a range of colours in which the type was painted, including some of the more colourful schemes such as the green and black camouflaged Czechoslovak airframe, and the yellow and black tiger stripe scheme that would make for a fun model that taxes your airbrushing skills. My favourite variant is usually the slightly weird one, but the Delfin wasn’t overly burdened with physical differences, maybe because they got it pretty much right the first time, or perhaps because the aircraft had little potential for alteration to other roles. The main two have already been mentioned, and while the single-seater is fairly visibly different, the L-29R was a subtle variant, some of which were even converted back after the extra weight was found to be burning through the flight hours far too quickly, and fracturing the wing spars. They kept their fairings, probably because it would have cost more to remove them and replace the missing skin for very little benefit. The In Detail section is an interesting look at the aircraft at close range that spans three pages, and has a world map showing where the Delfin got to during its career. While it is heavily biased toward the area around the Soviet Union, it certainly got around. Conclusion The Warpaint series always gets a thumbs-up due to their consistent layout and quality. This is an excellent book that will see plenty of use by anyone interest in, or in building this interesting Soviet era trainer that is also a pleasant-looking aircraft. I built one myself a few years ago, and am tempted by one of the special schemes, if only I didn’t have so many other kits waiting for my attention! Note: You can buy either the traditional physical version of the book by following the link below, or the digital version if you’re more modern and forward thinking, or have limited storage space. Digital reference is starting to grow on me. Very highly recommended. 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