Aermacchi MB-326K

TYPE: Single seat light attack aircraft

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Italy

POWERPLANT: One 17.9kN (4000lb) Rolls-Royce Viper Mk 632-43 turbojet.

PERFORMANCE: Max speed at 5000ft 890km/h (480kt), max speed with armament at 30,000ft 685km/h (370kt). Max initial rate of climb 6500ft/min. Time to 36,000ft 9min 30sec. Service ceiling 47,000ft. Ferry range with external fuel over 2130km (1150nm). Combat radius with 1280kg (2822lb) warload lo-lo-lo 268km (145nm), with a 1815kg (4000lb) on a lo-lo-lo mission 130km (70nm), radius on a hilo- hi photo reconnaissance mission with two external tanks and recce pod 1040km (560nm).

WEIGHTS: Empty equipped 2964kg (6534lb), normal takeoff 4210kg (9285lb), max takeoff 5900kg (13,000lb).

DIMENSIONS: Wing span 10.85m (35ft 7in) with tip tanks, 10.15m (33ft 4in) without tip tanks, length 10.67m (35ft Oin), height 3.72 (12ft 2in). Wing area 19.4m2 (208.3sq ft).

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only.

ARMAMENT: Max payload of 1815kg (4000lb) on six hardpoints, comprising bombs, wire guided AS.12 ASMs, Matra R550 Magic AAMs, unguided rockets, cannon and reconnaissance pods. Fixed armament comprises two 30mm DEFA 553 cannon with 125 rounds per gun.

OPERATORS: Dubai, Ghana, Tunisia, Zaire, South Africa (Impala Mk 2).

HISTORY: The MB-326K is the most successful single seat development of a two seat jet trainer, and has provided a number of third world nations with an effective light attack capability.

Right from the beginning of the MB-326 jet trainer program, its designer Dr-lng Ermano Bazzochi intended that the aircraft also be an effective light strike platform, and this capability no doubt influenced a number of the two seat MB-326's customers to order it. The two seater proved to be a stable and effective weapons platform and a single seater optimised for light attack became a logical development.

The single seat MB-326K was developed well into the 326's career, given that the prototype two seater flew in 1957 and the single seat prototype flew on August 22 in 1970. The K was based on the MB-326G, which compared to earlier Macchis featured a strengthened airframe and more powerful Viper 20 engine. The first K prototype featured the 15.2kN (341 Olb) Viper 20, while the second had the more powerful 18.8kN (4000lb) Viper Mk 632-43 intended for production aircraft which allowed an increased armament capability compared with two seaters and the fitting of two internal 30mm DEFA cannon. The second seat meanwhile gave way to avionics and fuel.

Despite a 1970 first flight, because of a lack of orders the first production machines were not built until 1974. The first customer was Dubai, which eventually took delivery of six MB-326KDS, while others were delivered to Zaire (MB-326KB), Ghana (MB-326KG) and Tunisia (MB-326KT).

South Africa was the MB-326Ks largest customer, taking delivery of seven Italian built MB-326KMs and 73 Atlas licence assembled 15.1kN (3360lb) Viper 540 powered Impala 2s.

See also Aermacchi MB-326

 

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