The Antonov An-12 is a midesize four-engine turboprop transport aircraft. It has been built in many variants. NATO baptised the aircraft with the reporting name 'Cub'.
The An-12 was developed from the earlier, twin-engined An-8 turboprop, which first flew in February 1955. From 1958 to 1961 around 150 An-8s have been produced in Tashkent. The An-8 was designed as a military transport with a payload of up to 11 tons (24,250 lb)and also suitable for troop paradropping. It was equipped with a ramp cargo door in its rear fuselage. The aircraft had double-slotted flaps to improve low speed characteristics and could operate from unpaved airfields.
From the An-8 Antonov developed two four-engined versions: the An-10 passenger airliner and the An-12 freighter. The An-10 first flew on 7 March 1957 and was intended for domestic services. It seated 85-100, later even 118 passengers in high-density configuration. More than 100 aircraft were built and the type remained in service until the early 1970s.
The An-12, capable of carrying a payload of up to 20 tons (44,000 lb), first flew on 16 December 1957. It has 86 per cent of its structural elements in common with the An-10. The biggest differences are in the tail section because of the An-12's rear loading cargo ramp. The aircraft is comparable in size and general layout with the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, although it is somewhat lighter. Military aircraft have a tail gun turret. Some ex-military civil aircraft still have the gunner's position in the tail.
The first aircraft were fitted with four Kuznetsov NK-4 turboprop engines, but the military standard version, the An-12BP, has four Ivchenko AI-20 engines. The airplane has a high-mounted wing so that the cabin floor remains near the ground for easy access via the rear cargo ramp.
The An-12 is flown by a five-man crew: two pilots, a flight engineer, a navigator and a radio operator. The cockpit is pressurised but the cabin isn't. Therefore, many An-12s have a 7-12 seat pressurized passenger compartment behind the flight deck, intended for cargo handlers and the crews of transported vehicles.
More than 30 versions have been developed. 1,243 An-12 aircraft have been built in three factories: Irkutsk (1957-1962, 155 aircraft built), Voronezh (1960-1962, 258 built) and Tashkent (1962-1972, 830 built). Hundreds are still in use with airlines and military services, mainly in Ukraine, Russia and other CIS countries. Production ended in 1973.
The An-12 is a very versatile aircraft and was or is adapted for a large number of roles: airborne early warning (AEW), aerial refueling tanker, bomber, maritime patrol, anti submarine warfare, electronic warfare, flying laboratory, crew trainer, search and rescue and more.
- Xi'an Y-8 -
The An-12 was licence-built by Xi'an in China, but later the project was transferred to Shaanxi. Due to the cooling relationship between China and the Soviet Union, the Soviets withdrew their technical support, but the Chinese copied the aircraft and developed their own models as Y-8. Production in China still goes on and the latest version is the Y-8-F600, 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, Dowty R-408 propellers and a two-crew glass cockpit.