An-12 of the Russian Air Force
Role Civil and military transport aircraft
Design group Antonov
First flight 16 December 1957 (1957-12-16)[1]
Introduction 1959
Status In service
Primary users Russian Aerospace Forces
People's Liberation Army Air Force
Produced 1957–1973
Number built 1,248
Developed from Antonov An-10
Developed into Shaanxi Y-8

The Antonov An-12 (Russian: Антонов Ан-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 has many variants. For more than three decades the An-12 was the standard medium-range cargo and paratroop transport aircraft of the Soviet air forces. A total of 1,248 aircraft were built.[2]

Design and development

Antonov An-12BP at China Aviation Museum, Beijing

Developed from the Antonov An-8, the An-12 was a military version of the An-10 passenger transport. The first prototype An-12 flew in December 1957 and entered Soviet military service in 1959. Initially, the aircraft was produced at the State Aviation Factory in Irkutsk. From 1962, production was transferred to Tashkent, where 830 were built. Later, production moved to Voronezh and Kazan.[2]

In military use, the An-12 has capacity for up to 100 fully equipped paratroopers or 20,000 kg (44,090 lb) of cargo, which is loaded through the rear loading ramp/door.[2]

In terms of configuration, size, and capability, the aircraft is similar to the United States-built Lockheed C-130 Hercules.[citation needed] Soviet military and former-Soviet An-12s 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. Due to the Sino-Soviet split, the Soviet Union withdrew its technical assistance. The Xi'an Aircraft Company and Xi'an Aircraft Design Institute reverse-engineered the An-12 for local production, and the first flight of a Chinese-assembled An-12 was delayed until 1974 after USSR ceased production in 1973.[3]

In 1981, the Chinese version of the An-12, designated Y-8, finally 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 the 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.[4] Although the An-12 is no longer in use either in Russia or in Ukraine, the Y-8 is upgraded and produced in China. The latest Y8-F600 is a joint venture between the 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.[5]

Operational history

P-7 airdrop platform for use with An-12 aircraft. Equipped with MKS-5-12P parachute system. Loaded weight 4000-4900 kg. First used at the October Storm exercises near Erfurt, GDR. Last dropped in Poland 1986.

Soviet Air Forces

The aircraft first took flight in 1957 and was produced in the USSR until 1973. It was used in a variety of roles from search and rescue operations to equipment transportation. Its most significant use was seen during the Soviet-Afghan War. Among Soviet soldiers, it was infamously known that the plane would take off from Afghanistan to Tashkent with "Cargo 200" or coffins with the bodies of deceased soldiers. To this regard the aircraft was nicknamed "Black Tulip" (Russian: «Чёрный тюльпан»).[6]


Main article: List of Antonov An-12 variants

In addition to its basic cargo transport role, the An-12 was adapted as a platform for a wide variety of specialist tasks and some 30 different variants were produced. Upgrades included increased take-off weights and additional fuel capacity. The upgraded variant An-12BP became the standard tactical transport of the Soviet and other air forces.[2] In 2019, it was announced at the military "Army-2019" Forum that Russia started working on an armed ground-attack and close air support variant of the An-12, similar to the AC-130.[7] In 2021, it was announced that the gunship will not be based on the An-12 after all, as it did not meet the requirements for a "flying gunner."[8]


Currently the An-12 is popular with cargo operators, especially those in the CIS, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.[9]

Civil operators

47-year-old An-12 still operational, seen at Malmö Airport, Sweden
An An-12A of Vega Air makes a smokey takeoff from Kastrup Airport in 2004

On 8 January 2009, following numerous incidents involving the An-12 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) issued a temporary ban of the An-12 from UAE airspace.[10] On 1 March 2010, the ban was made permanent after the An-12 failed a GCAA airworthiness evaluation.[11]


 United States


 People's Republic of China

Military operators




 Ivory Coast
 Czech Republic
 South Yemen
 Soviet Union

Turkmenistan Air Forces


Accidents and incidents

Main article: Accidents and incidents involving the An-12 family

Specifications (An-12)

Antonov An-12

Data from Global Aircraft,[31][32]

General characteristics


3,600 km (2,200 mi; 1,900 nmi) with maximum payload


See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ "Antonov official website". Archived from the original on 23 January 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2009.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Allport, Dave (April 1996). "Military Transport Aircraft Directory (Part 2)". Air International. Vol. 50, no. 4. p. 237.
  3. ^ "Y8 Turboprop Transport Aircraft". Sino Defence. Archived from the original on 27 March 2008.
  4. ^ "Y8 navigator cockpit modification". Archived from the original on 9 September 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  5. ^ "Y8F600 aircraft". Shaanxi Aircraft Industry. Archived from the original on 21 May 2006.
  6. ^ ""Чёрный тюльпан": почему советские солдаты в Афганистане так назвали самолёт АН-12". Русская Семёрка. Archived from the original on 8 April 2020. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Источник: аналог американской летающей батареи AC-130 разрабатывается в России" [Source: Analogue of the American flying battery AC-130 is being developed in Russia]. TASS. 26 June 2019.
  8. ^ Lavrov, Anton; Kretzul, Roman (12 January 2021). "Арсенал «Охотника»: транспортный самолет получит управляемые ракеты" [Arsenal "Hunter": transport aircraft will receive guided missiles]. Izvestia.
  9. ^ Gordon, Yefim & Komissarov, Dmitry. Antonov An-12. Midland. Hinkley. 2007. ISBN 978-1-85780-255-9 [page needed]
  10. ^ "GCAA issues temporary ban of Antonov An-12 from UAE airspace". Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2009.
  11. ^ "UAE bans ANTONOV An-12 aircraft from its airspace". The Times of India. 19 February 2010. Archived from the original on 21 February 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2010.
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  13. ^ Endres 1979, p. 189.
  14. ^ Endres 1979, p. 15.
  15. ^ Vintage Russian. Props and Jets of the Iron Curtain Airlines, Airlife Publishing, Shrewsbury 1998, ISBN 1-85310-971-1.
  16. ^ Endres 1979, p. 401–402.
  17. ^ Endres 1979, p. 351.
  18. ^ a b c Cooper et al. 2011, p. 244
  19. ^ Hoyle Flight International 8–14 December 2015, p. 32.
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  21. ^ Hoyle Flight International 8–14 December 2015, p. 37.
  22. ^ Hoyle Flight International 8–14 December 2015, p. 41.
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  25. ^ Hoyle Flight International 8–14 December 2015, p. 53.
  26. ^ Cooper 2017, p. 11
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  29. ^ Gołąbek, Adam: 13. Pułk Lotnictwa Transportowego in: Lotnictwo z szachownicą nr. 9 and nr. 10
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  32. ^ "The Antonov An-12 & Shaanxi Y8". Archived from the original on 19 February 2006. Retrieved 9 March 2006.