The Military version of an Antonov Airliner (The An-12)

Some airliners turn into military aircraft as well. This is the An-12 “Cub”, a military aircraft that had a version of a passenger airplane in the Soviet Union. Constructed simultaneously with the An-10 “the airliner” but with structural differences to allow military operations, one of them is a defensive tail gun. This airplane was Designed in terms of capability and comparison to the famous C-130 “Hercules”. It is surprising but this plane has many variants still in service as civil operations as military around the world.

Balkan Bulgarian Airline. Source: WINGS PALETTE

The First prototype of the An-12 flew in December 1957, entered service in 1959 becoming a standard freight and paratroop transport in the Soviet Air Force. Some variants of this model are the Cub-A and Cub-B of electronic intelligence and Cub-C of electronic countermeasures. This aircraft has served in countries such as Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Poland, Sudan, Syria and Yugoslavia. Even the aircraft has flown in Antarctic expeditions.

An-12 Aircraft. Source: Antonov web.

In 1965 it was rolled out a civil version of the An-12, and it was the reason to service in Aeroflot airline in 1966. This variant allows the accommodation of 14 passengers and cargo with some modifications in the flight deck and a provision of a pressurization system. Some of the models have served as airliner but the most in military service.

As we talk before about some capabilities of this airplane related to military operations, a relevant variant was created, rather a reverse engineering, a Chinese version of the An-12. That is the famous Shaanxi Y-8, manufactured in China in the 60’s with the purchase of several airplanes to the Soviet Union with license to assemble the aircraft but due to political relations between the two nations the Soviet Union withdrew assistance. So the Shaanxi manufacturer using models of the An-12 as prototype, develops the Y-8 and finally it took off in 1974. In January 1980 the design was finished and was ordered the serial production at the Shaanxi Aircraft Plant, and Currently the manufacturer is АVIС II Company. The success of this Y-8 helps to win the first prize of the National Prize for Progress in Science and Technology.

Y-8 Aircraft. Source:

In addition to serving as transport, the Y-8 is the largest domestically-made aircraft in China and is used for a variety of special purposes, including airborne early warning and control, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.

if you want some details of the aircraft design, the wing is trapezoidal and high located wing as many cargo aircraft. It is divided into three parts; inner wing, central wing and outer wing. The angle of attack is 4 degrees, the dihedral effect on the wing gives it a gull appearance and good quality of flight. The fuel tanks are integrated to the wing structure in addition auxiliary fuel tanks in the cabin floor. A relevant data of the Y-8 is that is not equipped with tail gun, but has other characteristics for freighter operations such as airdrop with an unload time no more than 6 seconds to delivery. The propulsion system, 4 turbo-prop engines and the avionics system allows the safety flight in complex weather conditions.

General views of the Y-8 Aircraft. Source:

The Chinese variants are many and as it happened with the soviets, the models were extended to civil operations in general aviation as well, this includes the airworthiness authority permit to fly in civil aviation.

Y-8 F400 from China Post Airlines Co. Source:

It might be awesome the huge amounts of applications of this aircraft even used as drone carrier, that is the model Y-8E, that works as drone platform or UAV launchers.

Y-8E Drone launcher. Source:

The relations between the AVIC II (Chinese aerospace company) and the Antonov (Ucranian Aerospace company) have begun to collaborate in the aerodynamics, structural and systems that improves the aircraft design for the future applications. These are signs that this aircraft will surprise us more with outstanding capabilities and the future operations in commercial and military aviation.


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