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An-12 of Gomelavia in 2009
Role Civil and Military transport aircraft
Manufacturer Antonov
First flight 16 December[1] 1957
Introduction 1959
Status Active service with various airlines (especially cargo) and Air Forces
Primary users Belarus Air Force
PLA Air Force
Produced 1957–1973
Number built 1,248
Developed from Antonov An-10
Variants Shaanxi Y-8

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 and was made in many variants.

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.

Chinese production

Main article: Shaanxi Y-8

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 their 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.[2]

In 1981, the Chinese copy version of the An-12, designated Y-8, entered 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. A Tu-16/H-6 bomber navigator cockpit design was chosen for Y-8 instead of the original An-12 shorter navigator cockpit design, as the H-6 bomber had been in serial production for some time.[3] 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.[4] It is unknown whether the Shaanxi Y-8 remains in production, yet many determine it will remain in production for the foreseeable future.


Initial production of the military transport model powered by 4,000ehp Ivchenko AI-20A engines.[5]
An improved model with four additional fuel cells in the inner wing panels and 4,250ehp AI-20K engines.[5]
One Tashkent-built An-12 (CCCP-11528 No.2) was delivered as the An-12AD, with no known reason for the suffix.[5]
Conversion of the An-12A, fitted with the two extra underfloor tanks of the An-12P.[5]
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.[5]
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.[5]
A projected 30-tonne (66,140 lb) payload version of the An-12B, to be powered by 5,180ehp AI-20DK engines.[5]
(Individooal'naya [zashchita] – individual protection) : Electronic countermeasures version with the Fasol (String Bean) active jamming system. Only seven aircraft were built/converted.[5]
(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.[5]
(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.[5]
(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.[5]
Kapsoola – capsule : A single aircraft converted into a VIP transport for the VTA in 1975. The name Kapsoola refers to the pressurised cabin Capsule.[5]
(Shturmanskij) : Navigator Trainer version of the An-12BK with ten trainee workstations.[5]
(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.).[5]
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.[5]
(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.[5]
(Molniya – Lightning) A single An-12B converted as a SATCOM relay aircraft for trials relaying communications to and from the Molniya-1 communications satellite.[5]
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.[5]
(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.[5]
(Shturmanskij – for navigators) Navigator Trainer version of the An-12B with ten trainee workstations.[5]
An improved commercial variant intended to carry standardised freight pallets. The meaning of the BSM suffix is unclear.[5]
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.[5]
In 1969 Antonov proposed IFR tanker and receiver variants of the An-12B. The An-12BZ-12 was the receiver aircraft with a fixed probe above the cockpit.[5]
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.[5]
A projected version powered by 5,500ehp Ivchenko AI-30 turboprop engines.[5]
(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.[5]
(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.[5]
([dopolinitel'nyye bahki]Pod polom) Initial-production An-12 fitted with two additional fuel tanks under the cargo hold floor.[5]
(Polyarny, Lyzhnyy – Polar ski-equipped) Two aircraft converted with fixed ski undercarriage, heavily insulated hold and flight deck, powerful onboard heater for the cabin and engines, and the underfloor tanks of the 'An-12BP Polar'.[5]
(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.[5]
(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.[5]
(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.[5]
([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.[5]
(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.[5]
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.[5]
([samolyot] Spetsiahl'novo Naznacheniya – special-mission [aircraft]) To enable the Soviet 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.[5]
(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.[5]
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.[5]
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'.[5]
    • An-12TA
    • An-12TB
    • An-12TBP
    • An-12TBK
(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.[5]
(Oovelichennoy Dahl'nosti – with increased range) An interim extended-range variant fitted with two (An-12UD) acquired from Myasischev 3M bombers, in the freight hold. The prototype was converted from Irkutsk-built An-12 c/n 9901007.[5]
(Oovelichennoy Dahl'nosti – with increased range) An interim extended-range variant fitted with three (An-12UD-3) auxiliary tanks, acquired from Myasischev 3M bombers, in the freight hold. Converted from Tashkent-built c/n 3341007.[5]
"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 carried 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.[5]
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.[5]
An anti-submarine warfare variant of the proposed An-40, to be powered by mixed-fuel engines burning kerosene and liquid hydrogen.[5]
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.[5]

Other variants

Shaanxi Y-8
Unlicenced Chinese copy of the An-12BP.[5]
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.[5]
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.[5]
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.[5]
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.[5]
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.[5]
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.[5]
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).[5]
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).[5]
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.[5]


Currently the An-12 is very popular with cargo operators, especially those in the CIS, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.[5]

Civil operators

In August 2006 some 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), Tiramavia (4), Aerovis Airlines (5), Veteran Airlines (4), KNAAPO (5)and Vega Airlines (6) ATRAN Cargo Airlines (4). Some 77 other airlines operate smaller numbers of the type.[6]

On 12 January 2009, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued a temporary ban of 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.[7][8] This ban was converted into a permanent one in Feb 2010.[9]

Civil operators

 People's Republic of China
  • Darta
  • Ghana Airways The sole An-12 was delivered in October 1961. Withdrawn from use in 1962 and returned to Soviet Union in 1963.[10]
  • Air One (Mexico)
 Soviet Union
 Sri Lanka
 United Arab Emirates
 United States

Military operators


Former Military operators

 Ivory Coast
 Czech Republic
  • Czechoslovakian Air Force : Czechoslovakia's fleet numbering two was divided evenly between the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic upon split with Slovakia. All CzAF An-12s were phased-out of active service in the 1990s.
  • 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 Indian Air Force Museum, Palam, New Delhi.
  • Mongolian Air Force - Retired 12 An-12[13]
  • Slovak Air Force received one An-12BP registered 2209 in 1993. It was sold to Moldavia in 1999 and now serves with Angolan Air Force.[15]
 South Yemen
 Soviet Union
  • SFR Yugoslav Air Force

Specifications (An-12)

Data from Global Aircraft,[16][17]

General characteristics
  • Crew: 5: 2 pilots, flight engineer, navigator, radio operator
  • 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



Accidents and incidents

As of August 2011, more than 190 Antonov An-12s and Shaanxi Y-8s have crashed since the first prototype of the An-12 was severely damaged during a landing in mid-1958.[18]

  • On 7 February 1968, an [1]
  • On 13 May 1977, a LOT An-12 (registered SP-LZA) operating a cargo flight from Warsaw to Beirut via Varna crashed at approximately 08:45 local time near Aramoun, Lebanon, killing all nine people on board, some of who were working for a Polish secret service. The aircraft had been approaching Beirut International Airport, but the pilots had encountered language difficulties when communicating with the local air traffic controllers, so that they likely lost the orientation. The aircraft was the property of the Polish Air Force and was flown by military pilots and had previously transported weapons for the Lebanese Civil War. When it crashed it was carrying a cargo of veal.[20][21]
  • On 25 November 1985, a cargo An-12 of Aeroflot en route from Cuito Cuanavale to Luanda was shot down by South African Special Forces and crashed approximately 43 km of Menongue, the provincial center of the Cuando Cubango province, Angola, killing eight crew members and 13 passengers on board.
  • On 21 March 2011, A Trans Air Congo freight flight from Brazzaville to Pointe Noire (Congo) crashed into a residential neighborhood of Mvoumvou after receiving clearance to land at Pointe Noire Airport. All four crew perished in the crash, as well as a number of persons on the ground.[26]
  • On 9 August 2011, a cargo An-12 operated by Avis Amur crashed in the Magadan region in far east of Russia. All 11 people on board were killed. Preliminary reports indicate the pilots reported a fuel leak and an engine fire to air traffic controllers, but did not manage to return to the airport, the aircraft crashing in a wooded area. The aircraft involved, RA-11125, was the oldest aircraft in the Russian commercial air fleet.
  • On 7 October 2012, an Azza Air Transport An-12 performing flight on behalf of Sudan Air Force crashed near Khartoum while attempting an emergency landing after failure of two engines on one wing. Of 22 people on board, 15 died and seven were injured.[27]
  • On 9 August 2013, a Ukraine Air Alliance An-12 Cargo burned down at Leipzig Airport,Germany after a fire broke out. The aircraft had been loaded with live chicks and was preparing for takeoff when the fire broke out in the cargo area. The crew was able to escape before the fire completely destroyed the aircraft.[28]

Bans from airspace

In 2010, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) announced an indefinite ban on the Antonov An-12 aircraft from the UAE's airspace, to be enforced from 1 March 2010 .[29] This followed a temporary ban on the aircraft in 2009 following an Antonov An-12 skidding off the Sharjah International Airport runway.

Commercial operation of the An-12 was prohibited in Russia following the Avis Amur accident on 9 August 2011. The ban was stated to be pending the completion of a risk assessment programme.[30]

In popular culture

  • In the 2005 film 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.[31]
  • In the 2013 film, World War Z, an Antonov An-12 is seen being used by the main characters.

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


External links

  • List of all An-12 aircraft used by Polish Air Force
  • Pictures of An-12
  • Hundreds of An-12 photos
  • Y-8 Transporter Intro,

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