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Antonov An-26 (Curl)

Transport Aircraft

Antonov An-26 (Curl)

Transport Aircraft


The Soviet-era Antonov An-26 Curl transport made a name for itself during the Cold War, produced in some 1,400 examples overall.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Soviet Union
YEAR: 1969
STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Antonov Design Bureau - Soviet Union
OPERATORS: Afghanistan; Angola; Bangladesh; Belarus; Benin; Bulgaria; Cambodia; Cape Verda; Chad; China; Cuba; Czechoslovakia; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Denmark; East Germany; Ethiopia; Germany; Guinea-Bissau; Hungary; Iraq; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Laos; Latvia; Libya; Lithuania; Madagascar; Mali; Moldova; Mongolia; Mozambique; Namibia; Nicaragua; Niger; North Yemen; Pakistan; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Puntland; Republic of Congo; Romania; Russia; Serbia; Slovakia; Somalia; Soviet Union; Sudan; Syria; Tajikistan; Tanzania; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United States; Uzbekistan; Venezuela; Vietnam; Yemen; Yugoslavia; Zambia

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Antonov An-26 (Curl) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 78.08 feet (23.8 meters)
WIDTH: 95.80 feet (29.2 meters)
HEIGHT: 28.22 feet (8.6 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 33,069 pounds (15,000 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 52,911 pounds (24,000 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Progress AI-24VT turboprop engines developing 2,820 horsepower each.
SPEED (MAX): 277 miles-per-hour (445 kilometers-per-hour; 240 knots)
RANGE: 1,553 miles (2,500 kilometers; 1,350 nautical miles)
CEILING: 24,606 feet (7,500 meters; 4.66 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,575 feet-per-minute (480 meters-per-minute)


Series Model Variants
• An-26 "Curl" - Base Series Designation; initial production aircraft.
• An-26-100 - Passenger / cargo hauler
• An-26A - Assault transport; single example.
• An-26A SLK - Modernized variant
• An-26B - Civilian cargo hauler
• An-26B-100 - Passenger / cargo hauler
• An-26BL - Alternative designation covering An-26L.
• An-26BRL - Alternative designation covering An-26RL.
• An-26D - Long-range variant
• An-26KPA - Equipment testbed
• An-26L - Testbed
• An-26LL-PLO - Airborne testbed
• An-26LP - Fire-fighting platform
• An-26M - Airborne hospital
• An-26P - Fire-fighting platform
• An-26REP - Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) platform.
• An-26RL - Surveillance, reconnaissance and monitoring for Arctic circle.
• An-26RR - Alternative designation covering An-26RT.
• An-26RT - Communications relay platform
• An-26RTR - Alternative designation covering An-26RT.
• An-26S - VIP passenger carrier
• An-26Sh - Navigator trainer platform
• An-26ST - East German Air Force special-missions aircraft.
• An-26Z-1 - Czech ELINT model
• An-50 - Proposed jet-powered variant
• Xian Y-7H - Chinese military transport model
• Xian Y-14 - Chinese An-26 copy


Detailing the development and operational history of the Antonov An-26 (Curl) Transport Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 8/18/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Antonov An-26 was developed from the An-24 of 1962 for the airliner passenger / general transport role. First flight of the An-26 product was on May 21st, 1969 and production spanned from then until 1986 to which 1,403 examples were ultimately realized. A plethora of variants then emerged and operators have ranged the globe with many airframes still in active service today (2014).

The original An-24 proved a design that was robust for the most harshest of conditions available across the vast Soviet empire - particularly in hard to reach areas of the frontier where few services were available. This propelled a new, modified form to gain traction, one in particular that included a powered loading ramp for ease of moving cargo pallets to and from the aircraft to awaiting bays or transport trucks. With a new ramp design finishing its testing phase, the installation commenced to produce the new working designation of An-26.

As finalized, the An-26 carried over much of the same form and function of the preceding An-24 model including its high-wing design and twin engine layout. The tail unit remained a single vertical fin with low-set horizontal planes. The flight deck was held at the extreme front end of the fuselage aft of a short nose cone. The cargo hold then made up a bulk of the available internal space remaining. Initial production models were recognized simply as "An-26" and were identified in NATO nomenclature as "Curl-A". A combo passenger/cargo-hauler form then became the An-26-100. The local Chinese variant became the Xian Y-7H military transport.

Other limited production variants followed including an Arctic reconnaissance platform with special mission equipment, an atmospheric air lab, an assault transport prototype, various testbeds, a fire-fighting platform, and other proposed (some unrealized) designs.

Operators have gone on to range from Angola and Belarus to Yemen and Zambia. Many military operators have since abandoned the type including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Poland, and Somalia. The United States operated An-26s through the 6th Special Operations Squadron of the United States Air Force from the period of 2003 to 2007. Soviet An-26s were passed on to the emerging states after the fall of the Soviet empire. Most current operators remain civilian in nature including fifteen operating in the Ukraine.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (277mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Antonov An-26 (Curl)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.