ANT-20 "Maxim Gorky"
Role Propaganda aircraft/Transport
National origin Soviet Union
Manufacturer Tupolev
First flight 19 May 1934
Introduction 1934
Retired 1942
Primary user Soviet Union
Number built 2
Developed from Tupolev ANT-16

The Tupolev ANT-20 Maxim Gorky (Russian: Туполев АНТ-20 "Максим Горький", sometimes romanized as Maksim Gorki) was a Soviet eight-engine aircraft, the largest in the world during the 1930s. Its wingspan was similar to that of a modern Boeing 747, and was not exceeded until the 64.6-metre (212 ft) wingspan Douglas XB-19 heavy bomber prototype first flew in 1941.


The ANT-20 was designed by Andrei Tupolev, using German engineer Hugo Junkers' original all-metal aircraft design techniques from 1918. It was constructed between 4 July 1933 and 3 April 1934, and was one of two aircraft of its kind built by the Soviets. The aircraft was named after Maxim Gorky and dedicated to the 40th anniversary of his literary and public activities. The ANT-20 was the largest known aircraft to have used the Junkers aviation firm's design philosophy of corrugated sheet metal for many of the airframe's key components, especially the corrugated sheet metal skinning of the airframe.

The Maxim Gorky was meant as the flagship of the Maxim Gorky propaganda squadron — Maxim Gorky Agiteskadril — which flew around the Soviet Union promoting the aims and achievements of Soviet Communism. For this purpose, it was equipped with a powerful radio set known as the "Voice from the sky" (Russian: Голос с неба, romanizedGolos s neba), printing machinery, a library, radio broadcasting equipment, a photographic laboratory and a film projector with sound for showing films in flight. In a first in aviation the aircraft was equipped with a ladder which would fold on itself to become part of the floor.[1]

The aircraft was the first to use both direct current and alternating current. The aircraft could be dismantled and transported by rail if needed. The aircraft set several carrying-capacity world records and is also the subject of a 1934 painting by Vasily Kuptsov, which is now in the collection of the Russian Museum at Saint Petersburg.

1935 Maxim Gorky crash

Vasily Kuptsov, Maxim Gorky ANT-20 (1934), Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

On 18 May 1935, the Maxim Gorky (pilots – I. V. Mikheyev and I. S. Zhurov) and three more aircraft (a Tupolev ANT-14, R-5 and I-5) took off for a demonstration flight over Moscow. The main purpose of the other three aircraft flying so close was to make evident the difference in size. The accompanying I-5 biplane piloted by Nikolai Blagin had performed two loop manoeuvres around the Maxim Gorky. On the third loop, they collided. The Maxim Gorky crashed into a low-rise residential neighbourhood west of present-day Sokol metro station.[2] Forty-five people were killed in the crash, including the fighter pilot as well as both crew members and the 33 passengers on the Maxim Gorky, and an additional nine people on the ground.[2]


Aeroflot's ANT-20bis

A replacement aircraft, the ANT-20bis (also designated PS-124 or Passazhirsky Samolyot 124, so named as it was built at Plant No. 124), had begun production the following year and first flew in 1938 (other sources mention 15 May 1939 as the date of the first flight). It was largely identical in design but with six more-powerful Mikulin AM-34FRNV engines. On 12 August 1939 it was sold to Aeroflot and served their transport routes in Russia and Uzbekistan. In December 1940, the aircraft was re-engined with two slightly more powerful Mikulin AM-35 engines in the inner positions (numbers three and four). On 14 December 1942, it crashed after the pilot allowed a passenger to take his seat momentarily and the passenger activated the stabilizer control mechanism via a switch on the pilot's armrest, raising the stabilizer and sending the airplane into a nosedive from an altitude of 500 m (1,600 ft), killing all 36 on board.[3]


 Soviet Union
View of the starboard engines and the mechanic's pulpit housed in the wing for their monitoring from the cabin of the ANT-20bis


Data from The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft 1875–1995[4]

General characteristics


See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ "News Paper Printed On Plane In Flight". Popular Science. Bonnier Corporation: 43. March 1935. ISSN 0161-7370.
  2. ^ a b Accident description for CCCP-I20 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 25 February 2018.
  3. ^ "Катастрофа ПС-124 Узбекского управления ГВФ в районе Ташкента" [Crash of PS-124 of the Uzbek Directorate in the Tashkent area].
  4. ^ Gunston 1995, p.396.
  5. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". UIUC Applied Aerodynamics Group. Retrieved 16 April 2019.

55°48′18″N 37°30′55″E / 55.8051°N 37.5153°E / 55.8051; 37.5153