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Soko Galeb G-2 - The Yugoslavian Seagull

The Galeb ("Seagull") was the first Yugoslavian jet design to enter production, and featured a 2500lb thrust Rolls-Royce Viper II turbine engine (the same engine used in the contemporary Aermacchi MB-326) which provided the Galeb with a maximum speed of around 780km/h.

A low level high speed pass for the crowd and cameras at an early Classic Fighters airshow in Blenheim, New Zealand.  Photo: © 2005 Geoff Sloan (Image Supplied)

First flown in 1961, production began in 1963 with the aircraft initially built as a two-seat trainer. However it was later modified for use as a single-seat light attack aircraft, the J-1 Jastreb ("Hawk"). The Jastreb utilized a strengthened airframe and an improved Viper engine with 500 pounds more thrust than the Galeb. Other changes include structural strengthening, extra hardpoints for rockets and three, instead of two, 12.7mm guns in the nose.

During the 1960s, the G-2 was shown on the international airshows in Farnborough and Le Bourget, where it proved to be as good as the other Western training aircraft (Jet Provost, Fouga Magister and Aermacchi). In comparison the Galeb's main disadvantages were its unpressurized cockpit and less expensive navigational equipment, but handling of the aircraft and some other solutions (design, position of built-in guns, etc) were equally good as the western types.

The Galeb features a straight wing with tip tanks, Folland Type 1 -B lightweight ejector seats, sideways hinging canopy transparencies and underwing hardpoints for light bombs and rockets.

The aircraft was also designed to operate from prepared grass strips (that would enable the G-2 to remain operational in case the enemy destroyed the concrete runways). In addition, the jet engine air intakes were designed in a way which didn't allow particles to be sucked-in, and even if that happened, the Rolls-Royce engine was able to 'swallow' even small birds without consequences.

Pat Donovan imported this aircraft into New Zealand in 2004, but the aircraft required a significant amount of restorative maintenance and this was only completed a few short weeks before the 2005 Classic Fighters airshow show. The test flying from RNZAF Base Woodbourne went without a hitch, and the aircraft was able to make its New Zealand airshow debut at Easter.

This video shows a short display by the Soko Galeb at the Classic Fighters 2005 (Blenheim, New Zealand).

Between 1963 and 1985, when production ceased, around 270 Galebs were built for the Yugoslav air force, 120 for Libya, and six for Zambia (who also purchased 20 Jastrebs in 1971, some of which are still operational) .

Both Galebs and Jastrebs saw service during Yugoslavia's civil war with Serbian forces. Likewise at least one Galeb was involved in fighting during the uprising in Libya in 2011—a Libyan Galeb was shot down by a French fighter when the former aircraft intentionally entered a United Nations 'no-fly zone'.

The Galeb looks relatively similar to other military jet trainers from the 1960s and 1970s.  Photo Copyright © 2005 Geoff Sloan (Image Supplied)

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