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Orličan L-40 Meta Sokol

The first Czechoslovak all-metal tourist airplane, successor to the successful Sokol model.

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About the Plane

The L-40 Meta Sokol aircraft comes from the hands of the same designer as the famous all-wooden Sokol aircraft. Effort to keep  the world trend in the development and production of aircraft was so great in our territory that it set the goal of creating a "modern" design of that time. The L-40 Meta Sokol is a beautiful example of this. The Meta Falcons have celebrated great success, both domestically and internationally, and have several world records to their credit. 

Nowadays, it is already a relatively rare aircraft due to the complex construction and maintenance in airworthy condition.

Meta Sokol was also the first Czechoslovak all-metal sports plane.

10.10 m

7.54 m

1.23 m

935 kg

230 km/h

210 km/h

5,050 m

up to 1100 km


140 HP/103 kW

25 l/h

110 l

 1 pilot + 2 passengers




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About the L-40 Meta sokol aircraft

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At the end of the 1940s, the global development of the production of tourist aircraft went in the direction of all-metal construction, and it was no different in Czechoslovakia. Designer Ing. Rublič, who celebrated success with his projects, including the Sokol aircraft, planned to maintain this direction, despite his little experience with these materials. In the autumn of 1949, the management of the Choceň factory called on the designer to start the development of an all-metal airplane in the Sokol category as quickly as possible with the intention of penetrating the foreign market as best as possible, where, despite all the artificial political obstacles, the wooden Sokol had a good name and there was real interest in successors. Ten months after the start of construction work, our first all-metal sports plane XLD-40 named "Mír" was ready in Chocna. On July 30, 1950, it took off for its first flight. The aircraft had many unusual features, from the unusually short development time to the airframe design. 

The construction was conceived in such a way that the smallest possible number of details were produced, so that a minimum of work was spent during assembly and the entire production, especially in series, was as cheap as possible while maintaining all strength and functional parameters. The XLD-40 aircraft had a shell fuselage and a four-seat cabin. Two were separate in the front, the rear formed a continuous bench across the width of the cabin. The front glass shield was fixed, the remaining cabin cover as a whole moved back for the best possible entry and exit. The steering was double, the same type as the last version of the Sokol. The wing, of the same dimensions and ground plan as the M1D Sokol, was also all-metal, with a reduced number of ribs, equipped with lift flaps. In the overall appearance of the XLD-40, the tail surfaces attracted the most attention. They were butterfly-shaped, open in a wide V and combined both elevation and directional rudders. Another novelty was noticeable when the plane was on the ground. It was the unusual location of the spur wheel just behind the trailing edge of the wing. Among the pilots, this landing gear was called an "inverted trike" and indeed the design resembled an inverted nose mounted landing gear. The engine used was a Walter Minor 4-III.

Flight performance demonstrated that a reliable solution to the aerodynamic effect of butterfly tail surfaces would require far more study and testing before building a prototype than the designers could afford in difficult times. Butterfly surfaces were created primarily only on the basis of literature and documents that reached socialist Czechoslovakia from the west. It is based on the Beechcraft B 35 Bonanza airplane, which you can also see in our hangar.

XLD-40 OK-EKZ butterfly tailplane prototype crashed in September 1950 due to fuel system failure. However, after the repair, the tests continued, and the behavior of the air flow on the tail surfaces was also investigated to reveal the cause of the shielding and the reduction of the efficiency of some of their parts.

When the situation in international relations deteriorated rapidly in 1951, the foreign market was almost completely closed, especially in those directions where the original export ambitions were directed, including demanding licensing programs. Until 1953, all work on the XLD-40 prototype completely stopped.

In this year, construction and production work began again, when solutions for the replacement of tail surfaces were carried out in a temporary manner until mid-March, and at that time the work and the new LD-40 were finished. The aircraft was identical to the original XLD-40 down to the tail surfaces, which were newly shaped like an inverted letter T. The LD-40 bore the name "Meta-Sokol" on the side of the fuselage, which best described the intention of the creators = to give our and foreign pilots an all-metal continuation of the Sokol. The next year, as part of the revision of the Research Institute, it was necessary to make further modifications before the start of serial production, and after these changes, a new prototype XL-40 Meta Sokol, registration mark OK-KHA, was flown in 1956. For this and other prototypes, the above-mentioned Walter Minor 4-III engine had to suffice, but this meant that it was not possible to use the full crew of the machine with four people. Already at the time of the tests, however, the development of the new M-332 engine, which was equipped with direct fuel injection, a compressor and a power of 140 hp, otherwise based on the Minor, reached its peak. But it was difficult from the beginning to put the engine into series production, thanks to the difficulties in the verification run, which were slowly eliminated. Also, the proposed new V-410 propeller with electric blade setting was not available in time. The engine tests did not end until 1959, and therefore the aircraft were stopped and rebuilt only after that year. These engines showed a significant improvement in the flying characteristics of the Meta Falcons and directly encouraged the creation of records. It is necessary to mention Antonín Vyskočil and Věra Toužimská, who set world and Czechoslovak speed records on closed tracks with Meta Sokoly.

Aircraft production continued until 1959 and a total of 106 aircraft were produced. The final pieces showed major design improvements, such as the addition of 35-litre teardrop-shaped wingtip auxiliary tanks. Thanks to these tanks, the range of the aircraft increased to a remarkable 1,107 km and the aesthetic impression of the aircraft increased. In the case of export, the planes went to the NSR, Britain, GDR, Switzerland, and Australia was also a big customer. 

Due to problems with the production of the M-332 engine, the aircraft came to the market towards the end of its production, and when there were attempts to extend production or install other foreign engines, it was not successful. There was even a continuation drawing with the name L-140 and a more powerful M-337 engine (210 hp), but it remained only with the drawing and with this aircraft the production of motor aircraft at the Orličan company also ended.

Our aircraft dates from 1958 and was produced as an export part of the delivery to the national aero club of East Germany, together with four other pieces of Meta Sokols and other Czechoslovak aircraft. After decommissioning, it was put into storage at what was originally a military airport south of Leipzig, where it stood for thirteen years. After being found, it was reconstructed in 2013 in Vysoké Mýto   (Czech Republic), and continued to fly at Merseburg Airport near Leipzig. In 2022, after visiting the Czechoslovak Aircraft Parade in Rakovník, it was agreed to sell it back to the Czech Republic and fly to the new base at Točná at the beginning of September. Since he never carried a Czech registration mark, the last three letters of the original D-EWCN, which he carried all his life, will be used and he will carry a new OK-WCN for operation in the Czech Republic.

XLD-40 Mír s motýlkem
XLD-40 Mír s motýlkem
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