Aermacchi MB326

The Italian MB326 jet trainer comes from a time - in the 1950s - that many air forces started to operate jet fighter and needed a comparable training aircraft. Then the same aircraft was supposed to be used for basic and advanced training. Hence the MB326 has straight, low mounted wings, but still a jet engine in the rear fuselage. Typical are the small air intakes in the wing roots with a shape between an oval and a rectangle. The exhaust far beyond the vertical stabiliser is characteristic as well. The aircraft sits close to the ground with its short trailing link landing gear. The main gear retracts outward, in the wings. These wings have wing fences just over the middle, and tip tanks at the end. The tandem cockpit, in which the instructor in the back seat sits at about the same level as the student pilot in the front, has a long, single piece bubble canopy (except for the windshield). 

The MB326 proved to be popular and was produced under licence in Australia, Brazil (as AT-26 Xavante) and South Africa (as Impala).

The MB326 features a long bubble canopy that covers both seats. Also typical are the small, rounded rectangular air intakes in the wing roots.

This photo shows the outward retracting main gear of the MB326, as well as the wing fence in the leading edge.

Different versions

The different versions of the MB339 can externally be distinguished by

  • the number of seats (and size of the canopy)
  • the presence of pylons under the wings, for storage of weapons or drop tanks

Details will be added later.

Confusion possible with

Aermacchi MB339


Being a derived from the MB326, it is logical that they are look-a-likes. The main diffe­rence is in the front fuselage. The canopy of the MB339 consists of three parts, with a bow frame near the front and in between the seats. Also, the back seat is higher than the front seat. Finally, the nose of the MB339 is more pointed.

Lockheed T-33 T-Bird

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The T-33 has a similar layout, in particular the long canopy, straight wings and tip tanks. The air intakes are more in front of the wings though, at the side of the fuselage, and larger. Also the vertical stabiliser is curved and closer to the exhaust. Finally, the main gear retracts inward.

Soko J-2 Galeb


The basic appearance, straight wings with tip tanks can be found on the Soko G-2 Galeb as well, but for the rest it is significantly different. The landing gear retracts inward, the air intakes are longer with a D-shape and the canopy has three frames, giving it two separately opening parts.


at 3a

The tail and wings of the IAR-99 are quite similar to that of the MB326, as are the air intakes - more or less. However, the canopy is different with the higher back seat and the aircraft has no tip tanks. Finally, the main gear retracts inward. (photo Cătălin Cocîrlă/WikiMedia)