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UTVA U-75 | 9A-DIH | by Boran Pivcic
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UTVA U-75 | 9A-DIH

Another fascinating piece of Croatian aeronautical history; pound for pound the most famous piston prop ever produced by Yugoslavia's aviation industry, the U-75 was designed in the mid-70s as a simple, sturdy and cheap basic trainer that could fit both civilian and military requirements (though the two were sometimes difficult to tell apart). Powered by a 180 HP Lycoming IO-360 driving a constant speed prop, the U-75's principal claim to fame - aside from a spotty safety record caused by non-adherence to its limitations - was its functionality, having even been designed to carry unguided munitions (such as freefall bombs, rocket packs and machine gun pods).


This capability came to a head during the 90s war, where nearly a dozen U-75s - impounded from flying clubs - became part of the country's first aerial strike force (usually equipped with shoulder-launched M80 Zolja anti-armor rockets bolted to the wings). 9A-DIH - known in wartime as RC-DIH and 008 - was one of these machines, and had flown in action in eastern Slavonia until suitable combat aircraft could be obtained. Relegated to the training role until the mid-2000s, the entire fleet would be replaced by Zlin Z-242Ls, eventually ending up confined to the main Air Force maintenance facility. 008 however was eventually returned to its prewar owners (the AK Čakovec flying club), and is on the path to return to flight.

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Taken on April 10, 2016