As VX-9 Vandy 1

Progressive Photo Comp Feb. 18-21, 2007


The L-39 arrived from the paint shop in NC here at Charlottesville Airport (CHO) for inspection and measurements so that markings can be scaled to the proper Mil Spec sizes for the NAVY VX-9 Vandy 1 markings.

The L-39 is the most popular jet warbird in the world, with over 300 believed to be actively flying in the USA alone.


The Czechoslovakian L-39 was built as the successor to their earlier trainer, the L-29 Delfin. Design work began in 1966, and the first prototype made its initial flight on 4 November 1968. The idea of the design was to marry an efficient, powerful turbofan engine to a sleek, streamlined fuselage, resulting in a strong, economical performer which would become the next standard jet trainer for the Warsaw Pact. Full-scale production was delayed until late 1972 due to apparent problems with the design of the air intakes, but these difficulties were overcome and the type went on to be a great success with the Soviet, Czech and East German air forces, among others.


Three main variants were produced. The L-39C was built as a pure trainer and was used by numerous air forces throughout Eastern Europe beginning in 1974 and continuing through today. The armed weapons-trainer variant is called the L-39ZA, and a close-support and ground-attack version is called the L-39ZO. In addition to those mentioned above, the L-39 has been exported to numerous countries, including Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Iraq, Libya, Estonia, and Kyrghyzstan. A modernized derivative of the Albatros, the L-59, is still being built in the Czech Republic. Another modernized, but very different version, the L-39MS, actually has much more in common with the L-59 than the L-39, despite its designation.



     Engine: One 3,792-lb thrust Walter Titan turbofan (Ivchenko AI-25-TL built under Czech license by Motorlet).

     Weight: Empty 7,340 lbs., Max Takeoff 11,618 lbs. (L-39ZO with four rocket pods)

     Wing Span: 31ft. 0.5in.

     Length: 40ft. 5in.

     Height: 15ft. 5.5in.


          Maximum Speed at 19,600 ft: 485 mph (Trainer version, clean)

          Maximum Speed at Sea Level: 435 mph

          Ceiling: 37,730 ft. (Trainer, clean)

          Range: 528 miles with internal fuel; 995 miles with external tanks.

     Armament (L-39ZO): Up to 2,425 pounds of weapons on four underwing hardpoints, including bombs, 57- or 130-mm rocket pods, gun pods, a five-camera reconnaissance pod, or two fuel drop-tanks. Centerline point carried a pod-mounted 23-mm twin-barrel GSh-23 cannon with 180 rounds.

Number Built: 2800+

Text used courtesy of WarbirdAlley.com

The first step here is the location and measuring of all the elements. Then paint mask templates made prior to arrival
are put in place. All markings were researched and DOD Navy Mil Spec Tech Orders were used for this project.
All except for the velocity stripe is as all "Vandy 1" aircraft. The nose stripe was added as per the owner's request to
balance out the overall design scheme. As you will see, it works well.

Owner Pat Marsh checks surface temps prior to painting while Paul Hager applies masking.
It was a bit cold in this building to be doing this.

Here Gary Velasco measures for the stripes on the stab.

After all the paint mask templates are in place the whole jet is covered with plastic except for the areas
that will be painted. This is to prevent overspray and dust from the finished surfaces.

The first color is a base of white. This will make the dark insignia blue and red stand out better in
black finish otherwise the insignia blue will not be seen due to the black color.

A view of the finished white on the tail end.

As can be seen, the insignia blue is very dark and appears black in the photos. The blue will get masked leaving the red sripes.

Paul picks out the star masks and preps for the red layer.

Another angle of the blue layered nose.

A view of the tail with the stars and stripes ready for masking.

Left side of the L-39 picking out the insignia masking.

Taking a break and presenting owner Pat with a replica panel of the finished markings for his office.

L-R; Paul Hager, Gary Velasco, Kenny, and Pat.

Almost done. Stencelling was cut previously and added here. There still needs Rescue arrows, names and various other stencil markings.

A closer look at the left nose. This has to look its best since it will be the most photographed side.

The famous "Bunny tail" is the signature marking for the "Vandy 1" squadron.


Absent in the intake red markings is the lettering.

Scheme is starting to take shape and looking like NAVY is missing one of its own.


A little buffing please!

The names and rescue arrows have been added.

Done! Just added the "Fight's On" Naval aviator slogan to the stab tips.

Roll Out - March 31, 2007

Fuel top-off and pre flight next.

USN F-14 and F-18 instructor Cdr Scott "Jethro" Kelly and owner Pat Marsh prepare for maiden flight in new colors.

My flight was next. Jethro demonstrated some major acro for my L-39 experience pulling 5+ Gs. "For those about to ROCK..."

Class acts Pat Marsh and primary pilot Cdr Scott Kelly, thanks guys for the thirll.

Gary and Pat

An overcast day

Coming in a few weeks - more Air-Air photos.