MB-326 Impala in the colors of the South African Air Force.
(Photo source unknown. Please contact us if you
History: The MB-326 was designed by Dr. Ing
Ermanno Bazzochi and became the most successful aircraft built by the Italian
Aermacchi company. The first two prototypes of this tandem two-seat jet trainer were flown
in December 1957. The Italian air force soon acquired 15 pre-production aircraft, and
so pleased with its performance, they purchased another 85. These trainers were also
supplied to countries in Africa and South America, their sales being fueled by a growing
need to replace older, propeller driven trainers. To further expand its customer base,
Aermacchi soon produced the armed, two seat MB-326B and -326F.
A stable and extremely maneuverable aircraft, the MB-326 was well suited for the
close-support role. These variants were usually flown with the second seat empty, and
could also be used for weapons training.
On August 22, 1970, Aermacchi flew its new, single seat prototype ground attack fighter.
Given the designation MB-326K, it had a powerful Rolls-Royce
turbojet and a pair of electrically-operated cannons. Ammunition storage for the guns was
located in the space left empty by the removal of the second seat. New electronics were
added, and the airframe was strengthened to accommodate more armament on the hard points
under the wings. In 1974, the MB-326K got its first new operators when the Dubai Police
Air Wing ordered three for counter-insurgency work. A year later, in 1975, Atlas in South
Africa began building the MB-326K under license as the Impala II.
These saw action over Angola, and the next year both Ghana and Tunisia supplemented their
armed two-seat MB-326s with the new -326K.
The final MB-326 was the EMB 326GB, completed by Embraer of
Brazil in 1983. The Brazilian Air Force designated the aircraft the
AT-26 Xavante ("Shavante").
The MB-326 has since been replaced by newer training
aircraft, and some the surplus airframes have been sold to private operators, most ending up in the
United States. The largest operator of the type in the U.S. has been the National Test Pilot
School in Mojave, California. [History by
Engine: One 4,000-pound thrust Rolls-Royce Viper 632-43 turbojet
Weight: Empty 6,885 lbs., Max
Takeoff 13,000 lbs.
Wing Span: 35ft. 7in. including tip
Length: 35ft. 0.25in.
Height: 12ft. 2in.
Maximum Speed at
5,000 feet, clean configuration: 553 mph
miles with ferry tanks
Two 30mm DEFA
553 cannon in lower fuselage
Up to 4,000
pounds of underwing stores, including bombs, missiles, rockets, mini-gun pods and camera
Number Built: 761
Number Still Airworthy: At least 10 in
CNAPG MB-326 Page
Three-View Drawing | Another Three-View
National Test Pilot School, Mojave, CA: Main Page
Museum MB-326 Page
[Back to Warbird Alley's Main
All text and photos Copyright 2006 The
Doublestar Group, unless otherwise noted.
You may use this page for your own, non-commercial reference purposes only.