The Antonov An-12 (NATO reporting name: Cub) is a four-engined turboprop transport aircraft designed in the Soviet Union. It is the military version of the Antonov An-10.
ATMA - Operating for Expo Aviation (Sri Lanka).
Photo taken Sep. 2008
Male International Airport, Republic of Maldives (MLE)
|Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Design and development
The first prototype flew in December 1957. Over 900 had been built, in both military and civilian versions, before production finally ended in 1973. The An-12BP entered Soviet military service in 1959. In terms of configuration, size and capability, the aircraft is similar to the United States-built Lockheed C-130 Hercules. Military Soviet and former-Soviet examples have a defensive tail gun turret.
In the 1960s China purchased several An-12 aircraft from the Soviet Union, along with a license to assemble the aircraft locally. However, due to the Sino-Soviet split, the Soviet Union withdrew its technical assistance. It was not until 1974 that the first Chinese-assembled An-12 had its maiden flight. The Xi'an Aircraft Company and Xi'an Aircraft Design Institute worked to reverse-engineer the An-12 for local production.
In 1981, the Chinese copy version of the An-12, designated Y-8 entered serial production. Since then, the Y-8 has become one of China's most popular military and civilian transport/cargo aircraft, with many variants produced and exported. Although the An-12 is no longer made in Russia or Ukraine, the Y-8 continues to be upgraded and produced in China. The latest Y8-F600 is a joint venture between Shaanxi Aircraft Company, Antonov Aeronautical Scientific-Technical Complex (ASTC), and Pratt & Whitney Canada. The Y8-F600 has a redesigned fuselage, western avionics, PW150B turboprop engines with an R-408 propeller system, and a two-crew glass cockpit.
An-12 : Initial production of the military transport model powered by 4,000ehp Ivchenko AI-20A engines.
The An-12A was an improved model with four additional fuel cells in the inner wing panels and 4,250ehp AI-20K engines.
An-12AD : One Tashkent-built An-12 (CCCP-11528 No.2) was delivered as the An-12AD, with no known reason for the suffix.
An-12AP : Conversion of the An-12A, fitted with the two extra underfloor tanks of the An-12P.
The An-12B was further improved, with detachable outer wings forming integral fuel tanks housing 1,390 litres (305.8 Imp.Gal.) each, reinforced wing centre-section to support the extra fuel weight, a separate Flight Engineer station, more powerful cargo-handling winches and a TG-16 APU in the port undercarriage fairing, which necessitated removal of the rear bomb pylons from the undercarriage fairings. Power was supplied by Ivchenko AI-20M engines with improved reliability at the same rating as the AI-20K. Some An-12B aircraft were built at the factories as commercial transports with all military or sensitive equipment removed, the designation for these aircraft was unchanged.
An-12B (LIAT) (Laboratoriya Issledovaniya Aviatsionnoy Tekniki – aviation hardware examination laboratory) : In 1972 a single An-12B was converted as a flying accident investigation laboratory with equipment for investigating crashes and analysing accident and voice recording systems.
An-12B-30 : A projected 30-tonne (66,140 lb) payload version of the An-12B, to be powered by 5,180ehp AI-20DK engines.
An-12B-I (Individooal'naya [zashchita] – individual protection) : Electronic countermeasures version with the Fasol (String Bean) active jamming system. Only seven aircraft were built/converted.
An-12BK (Kompleks - avionics) : An increased 30-tonne (66,140 lb) payload, improved avionics suite, TG-16M APU and the widened cargo door of the An-12BP characterized the An-12BK, which was built exclusively for the VTA.
An-12BK-IS (Individooahl'naya zaschita s sistemoy Seeren – individual protection active jammer Siren) : 40 An-12BKs were built as ECM platforms with Fasol and Sirena mission systems housed in four pods suspended from pylons either side of the lower forward fuselage and either side of the gunner's position. Formation-keeping equipment was housed under a dielectric panel on the flight deck escape hatch. From 1974 another 105 aircraft were modified with the Bar'yer – (barrier) and Siren systems as well as automatic infra-red jammers.
An-12BK-PPS (Postanovchik Pomekh Siren) : Evolved from the An-12PP this ultimate ECM platform variant was equipped with the Sirena system in four pods, Booket jammer system and chaff dispensers in the tailcone. Later-production aircraft had the chaff dispensers relocated to the cargo door. Nineteen aircraft were converted from An-12BKs, serving with the VVS until at least 2006. Three aircraft are known to have been stripped of mission equipment and returned to transport duties.
An-12BKK Kapsoola - capsule : A single aircraft converted into a VIP transport for the VTA in 1975. The name Kapsoola refers to the pressurised cabin Capsule.
An-12BKSh (Shturmanskij) : Navigator Trainer version of the An-12BK with ten trainee workstations.
An-12BKT (BKToplivovoz – BK tanker) : In 1972 the An-12 BKT was produced as a flying petrol station for refuelling aircraft in austere environments on the ground. Capable of refuelling two aircraft at a time with a transferrable load of 19,500 litres (4,290 Imp.Gal.).
An-12BKV : Military variant that could be used to drop bombs or mines using a permanently-installed conveyor belt for dropping the weapons from the cargo hold door. Accuracy was found to be appalling so further development was cancelled.
An-12BL (Laboratornyj) : Test-platform for the Kh-28 anti-radiation missile, with two missiles carried on pylons either side of the forward fuselage and two more suspended from pylons under the outer wings. This variant may have been intended for an operational role as a SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defences) platform.
An-12BM (Molniya – Lightning) : A single An-12B converted as a SATCOM relay aircraft for trials relaying communications to and from the Molniya-1 communications satellite.
An-12BP : An-12B fitted with the two extra underfloor tanks of the An-12P, equipped with a NAS-1B1-28 (Navigatsionnaya Avtonomnaya Sistema - self-contained navigation system) and RSKM-2 (Rahdiolokatsionnaya Sistema Kontrolya Mesta - radio co-ordinate monitoring system). Later-production An-12BPs were built with a wider cargo door and revised cabin windows placement. Some An-12BP aircraft were built at the factories as commercial transports with all military or sensitive equipment removed, the designation for these aircraft was unchanged.
An-12BPTs Tsiklon – Cyclone : Two Tashkent-built An-12BP aircraft (CCCP-11530 and CCCP-11531) were converted at the factory as weather research laboratories. Mission equipment consisted of a measurement suite, a data recording suite and cloud-seeding equipment. Both aircraft were subsequently stripped of their mission equipment reverting to transport duties.
An-12BSh (Shturmanskij – for navigators) : Navigator Trainer version of the An-12B with ten trainee workstations.
An-12BSM – An improved commercial variant intended to carry standardised freight pallets. The meaning of the BSM suffix is unclear.
An-12BZ-1 & An-12BZ-2 : In 1969 Antonov proposed IFR tanker and receiver variants of the An-12B. The An-12BZ-1 was the tanker with a single podded refuelling hose/drogue unit and the An-12BZ-2 was the receiver aircraft with a fixed probe above the cockpit.
The An-12D was developed from 1964 as an increased-payload version with new undercarriage, new tail unit similar to the Antonov An-24 and a fully-pressurised fuselage of increased length and width incorporating a loading ramp in a cargo hold door. This project was not proceeded with but led to the An-40 STOL Transport.
An-12DK : A projected version powered by 5,500ehp Ivchenko AI-30 turboprop engines.
An-12D-UPS (Oopravleniye Pogranichnym Sloyem – BLC [boundary layer control]) : A BLC variant of the proposed An-12D, with two turbo-compressors above the wing centre section feeding compressed air to the slots on the wing, and a third in the fin fillet feeding compressed air to slots on the tail surfaces.
The An-12M (Modifitseerovannyy – modified) was a standard-production aircraft fitted with 5,180ehp AI-20DM turboprop engines. Despite higher performance this upgraded An-12 was not proceeded with due to cancellation of the AI-20DM engines.
An-12P ([dopolinitel'nyye bahki]Pod polom) : Initial-production An-12 fitted with two additional fuel tanks under the cargo hold floor.
An-12PL (Polyarny, Lyzhnyy – Polar ski-equipped) : Two aircraft converted with fixed ski undercarriage, heavily insulated hold and flight deck, powerful on-board heater for the cabin and engines, and the underfloor tanks of the 'An-12BP Polar'.
An-12PP (Postanovchik Pomekh) (a.k.a. An-12BK-PP) : An Electronic Countermeasures version developed in 1970 to operate within large formations of regular An-12 transports providing ECM for the whole formation. The automatic system identified air defense radars and aimed jamming signals in their direction. The active Booket (bouquet) jammers radiated from three blisters under the fuselage and the tail gunners position was fitted with ASO-24 (Avtomaht Sbrosa Otrazhately – automatic chaff dispenser) chaff dispensers with the chaff cut to length as determined by the frequency of the radar detected. Three pairs of heat exchangers were fitted to the forward fuselage sides providing cooling for the mission equipment, and a fourth pair above the main gear fairings. 27 aircraft were converted from An-12BK aircraft, with at least two aircraft completed with only the chaff dispensers and non-standard rod aerials on the forward fuselage. At least two An-12PP aircraft were de-militarised and sold to civilian owners retaining the distinctive ogival tailcone.
An-12PS (Poiskovo-Spasatel’nyi) : SAR version of the An-12B with Istok-Golub emergency UHF homing system, with Yorsh (Ruff) or Gagara (Loon) rescue boats, as well as droppable inflatable liferafts and crews for the boats. Several aircraft were used for recovering Cosmonauts from sea landings. Others were operated by the AV-MF.
An-12R (Reaktivnny – jet boosted) : A design project for a jet-powered An-12 with a radically-altered swept wing and tail and 25-tonne (55,153 lb) payload carried for 2,500 km (1,550miles), to have been powered by four Lotarev D-36 high-bypass turbofans. This unbuilt projected aircraft evolved into the Antonov An-112.
An-12R ([samolyot] Razvedchik – reconnaissance aircraft) : The unconfirmed probable designation for the small number of ELINT aircraft operated by the VVS from 1970. These aircraft were fitted with mission equipment in dielectric fairings forward of the main undercarriage wells and additional blade aerials above the forward fuselage and two blade aerials under the forward fuselage. Two aircraft are known to have operated without the blade aerials.
An-12RR (Rahdiatsionnyy Razvedchik – radiation reconnaissance) : Nuclear Biological and Chemical warfare reconnaissance aircraft. At least three aircraft equipped with RR8311-100 air sampling pods on special cradles either side of the forward fuselage. Two of these aircraft are known to have also been equipped with a toxic agent detector pod on the starboard fuselage side.
An-12RU : A projected JATO (Jet-Assisted Take-Off) version of the An-12, to be fitted with two jettisonable PRD-63 solid-propellant rocket boosters fitted either side of the aft fuselage.
An-12SN ([samolyot] Spetsiahl'novo Naznacheniya – special-mission [aircraft]) : To enable the Red Army's T-54 main battle tank to be airlifted, Antonov designed the An-12SN with a cargo hold increased in width from 3m (9ft10in) to 3.45 m (11 ft), powered by 5,180ehp AI-20DK engines boosted by a 3,800 kg thrust (8,380lbst) Mikulin RD-9 turbojet installed at the base of the fin in place of the gunners station. The Antonov An-22 was found to be more suitable for carrying the tank so further work on the An-12SN was abandoned.
An-12T (Toplivovoz - tanker) : A fuel tanker variant used to transport fuel for automobiles or aircraft, or rocket fuels and oxidisers. Special tanks were fitted in the hold as required.
An-12TP-2 : A single An-12B (CCCP-04366) was custom-built for long-range transport and geophysical survey duties in Antarctica. The aircraft was fitted with a long under-nose radome, a MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detector) boom extending from the gunner's position and mission equipment in the insulated cabin. On arrival in Antarctica a ski undercarriage, as used on the An-12PL, was fitted.
An-12T Mystery Designations : Suffixes starting with 'T' which have unknown meaning. Aircraft with these suffixes were delivered from the Voronezh and Tashkent factories to both military and civil customers without obvious reason for the 'T'.
An-12U (Oopravleniye [Pogranichnym sloyem] - BLC): In 1962 a BLC (boundary layer control) version of the An-12 was projected with simple flaps replacing the double-slotted Fowler flaps and compressed air supplied by two DK1-26 compressors in underwing pods. It was envisaged that the use of JATO would dramatically improve the field performance.
An-12UD / An-12UD-3 (Oovelichennoy Dahl'nosti – with increased range) : An interim extended-range variant fitted with two (An-12UD) or three (An-12UD-3) auxiliary tanks, acquired from Myasischev 3M bombers, in the freight hold. The prototype was converted from Irkutsk-built An-12 c/n 9901007. A second example was converted from Tashkent-built c/n 3341007.
An-12VKP "Zebra" (Vozdushnij Kommandnij Punkt - Airborne command post) : A single Irkutsk-built An-12A (c/n 9900902) was converted into an airborne command post. Three cigar-shaped fairings were carrried at the wing-tips and fin-tip, other equipment was housed in long fairings either side of the rear fuselage and a war room was situated in the pressurised fuselage. Due to the superior performance of the Ilyushin Il-22 Zebra airborne command post, the An-12VKP was not proceeded with.
The An-40, derived directly from the An-12D, was to have been powered by four 5,500ehp AI-30 turboprop engines and four 2,550kgp (5,260 lb-st) Kolesov RD-36-35 booster/brake engines, fitted with thrust reversers, in paired nacelles between the inner and outer turboprop engines. A full-scale mock-up was completed in 1965 but the VVS selected the larger and faster Ilyushin Il-76 for production instead.
An-40PLO : An anti-submarine warfare variant of the proposed An-40, to be powered by mixed-fuel engines burning kerosene and liquid hydrogen.
An-42 : A version of the An-40 fitted with BLC (Boundary Layer Control). Compressed air for the BLC slots was provided by three turbo-compressors, derived from the Kolesov RD36-35 turbojet, in fairings above the wing centre-section.
Shaanxi Y-8 : unlicenced Chinese copy of the An-12BP.
Sever ACV : In 1983 Professor V.Ignat'yev proposed using time-expired An-12 aircraft as the basis of an air-cushion vehicle for use in the far north of the USSR. Although the project was supported by the Kuibyshev Aviation Institute, suitable airframes for conversion were not available and the project came to naught.
An-12 variants without specific suffixes
An-12 Ballistic Missile Transporter : A single Irkutsk-built An-12 (c/n 1901507) was converted in 1962 to carry ballistic missiles to their launch sites. Due to the limited types of missile that could be carried and the lack of precautions for oxidiser leaks this version was not pursued further.
An-12 with underwing tanks and IFR probe : Another projected IFR (in-flight refuelling) version with two 6,000 litre(1,320Imp.Gal.) tanks suspended from pylons between the inner and outer engines and an IFR probe above the cockpit.
An-12A Communications Relay Aircraft : At least seven Voronezh-built An-12As converted as communications relay aircraft, fitted with a second TA-6 APU in the tailcone. The actual role and mission equipment fitted is unknown.
An-12AP Magnitometr/Relikt Geophysical Survey Aircraft : An-12AP CCCP-12186 was a survey aircraft developed for the Leningrad branch of the Earth Magnetism Institute and converted at the Soviet Navy 20th Aircraft Overhaul Plant at Pushkin near Leningrad. The aircraft was equipped with a MAD boom extending from the gunner's position and an L-14MA astro-navigation system in a structure sticking up from the MAD boom, as well as a camera mounted on the rear cargo door.
An-12B instrumentation Calibration Laboratory (a.k.a. Izdeliye 93T) : To enable special instruments and measuring devices to be calibrated in isolated parts of the country a single An-12B was equipped with a full calibration laboratory in the cargo hold.
An-12BP Polar Support : To support Polar research stations in the Russian Arctic and Antarctica, this variant had three bladder fuel tanks, holding 9,800 litres(2,156Imp.Gal.) of fuel, installed in the under-floor baggage holds to increase the range to 6,000 km (3,725miles).
An-12BK SAR variant : A little known search and rescue variant fitted with the Istok-Golob (Source [of a river] /Dove) emergency UHF radio homing system (similar to the western SARBE ststem).
An-12 Testbeds : There were a large number of different flying test-beds based on the An-12 with most of them not receiving separate suffix designations.
Currently the An-12 is very popular with cargo operators, especially those in the CIS, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.
In August 2006 a total of 179 Antonov An-12 aircraft remain in airline service. Major operators include: Air Guinee (4), Alada (5), British Gulf International Airlines (7), Avial Aviation (4), Heli Air Service (4), Scorpion Air (4), Tiramavia (4), Aerovis Airlines (5), Veteran Airlines (4), KNAAPO (5), Vega Airlines (6) ATRAN Cargo Airlines (4) and Volare Airlines (6). Some 77 other airlines operate smaller numbers of the type.
On 12 January 2009, the United Arab Emirates banned the An-12 from flying over their airspace following runway incursions at Sharjah International Airport and the GCAA has advised operators to stop using the aircraft. However this ban was lifted in May 2009 although authorities have said that they will take further action against operators found guilty of unsafe practices in future.
- Scorpion Air
People's Republic of China
- Civil Aviation Administration of China; see also Shaanxi Y8
- Air Guinee
- Ghana Airways The sole An-12 was delivered in October 1961, registered as 9G-AZZ. Withdrawn from use in 1962 and returned to Soviet Union in 1963.
- Iraqi Airways
- Interisland Airlines
- Avial Aviation
- ATRAN Cargo Airlines
- SAT Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
United Arab Emirates
- British Gulf International Airlines
- Aerovis Airlines
- Antonov Airlines
- Volare Airlines
- SRX Group
- The Afghan Air Force operated 12 from 1981 through 2001.
- Algerian Air Force
- People's Air and Air Defence Force of Angola
- Bangladesh Air Force operated from 1973 to 1980s, now all retired
- Belarus Air Force
- People's Liberation Army Air Force
- People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force
- Czech Air Force
- Czechoslovakian Air Force : Czechoslovakia's fleet numbering two was passed to the Czech Republic upon split with Slovakia. All CzAF An-12s were phased-out of active service in the 1990s.
- Egyptian Air Force
- Ethiopian Air Force
- The Indian Air Force inducted the first of these aircraft in 1961, when it raised No.44 Squadron "The Himalayan Geese". Six of these aircraft soon took part in airlifting army reinforcements to Ladakh during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Subsequently the An-12 was used to raise No.25 Squadron. The An-12s were also used as heavy bombers during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. All IAF An-12s were phased-out of active service in the 1990s. One of them is preserved at the IAF museum at Palam Air Force Station, New Delhi.
- Indonesian Air Force
- Iraqi Air Force
- Myanmar Air Force
- Polish Air Force used 2 An-12B from 1966 until 1977 (crashed) and 1995
- Russian Air Force
- Russian Naval Aviation
- The Soviet fleet was dispersed among many of the Soviet Union's successor states.
- Soviet Air Force
- Soviet Naval Aviation
- Sudanese Air Force
- Syrian Air Force
- Ukrainian Air Force
- Ukrainian Naval Aviation
- Yemen Air Force
- SFR Yugoslav Air Force
- Air Force of Zimbabwe - The AFZ possess a single Antonov An-12 as of August 2008.
Crew: 5: 2 pilots, flight engineer, navigator, radio operator
Capacity: 90 troops
Payload: 20,000 kg (44,000 lb)
Length: 33.10 m (108 ft 7 in)
Wingspan: 38.00 m (124 ft 8 in)
Height: 10.53 m (34 ft 7 in)
Wing area: 121.7 m² (1,310 ft²)
Empty weight: 28,000 kg (62,000 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 61,000 kg (130,000 lb)
Powerplant: 4× Progress AI-20L or AI-20M turboprops, 4,000 ehp (3,000 kW) each
Maximum speed: 777 km/h (419 knots, 482 mph)
Cruise speed: 670 km/h (361 knots, 415 mph)
-With maximum fuel: 5,700 km (3,075 nm, 3,540 mi)
-With maximum load: 3,600 km (1,945 nm, 2,235 mi)
Service ceiling: 10,200 m (33,500 ft)
Rate of climb: 10m/s (ft/min)
Guns: 2× 23 mm (0.906 in) Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23 cannons in a tail turret (some aircraft)
Accidents and incidents
On 4 October 2007, an Antonov An-12 of Malift Air crashed on take-off from N'djili Airport, Kinshasha, Congo with 20 fatalities, and a further 37 on the ground.
On 20 February 2009, an Antonov An-12 of Aerolift crashed after an engine caught fire on take-off at Luxor International Airport, Egypt. All five crew were killed.
On 26 August 2009, an Antonov An-12 of Aéro-Frêt (registered TN-AIA) crashed on approach to Maya-Maya Airport, Brazzaville, Congo. The flight had originated from Pointe Noire Airport. The five Ukranian crew and one Congolese passenger were killed.
In popular culture
In the 2005 movie Lord of War, the main character Yuri Orlov, played by Nicolas Cage, commonly uses an Antonov An-12 to transport weapons, and is later said to have "a fleet" of such planes. Andrew Niccol, the director of Lord of War, stated that they actually used one of Viktor Bout's An-12 aircraft in the movie. The plane was used in the 2009 movie Whiteout.