Military Factory logo
Icon of F-15 Eagle military combat fighter aircraft
Icon of AK-47 assault rifle
Icon of Abrams Main Battle Tank
Icon of navy warships
Icon of a dollar sign
Icon of military officer saluting

Antonov An-12 (Cub)

Military Transport Aircraft

Antonov An-12 (Cub)

Military Transport Aircraft


Despite its troubled service life, the Antonov An-12 Cub has found many global customers since its inception during the late-1950s.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Soviet Union
YEAR: 1959
STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Antonov - Soviet Union
OPERATORS: Afganistan; Algeria; Angola; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Bangladesh; Belarus; Bulgaria; Burma; Canada; China; Czechoslovakia; Czech Republic; Egypt; Ethiopia; France; Georgia; Guinea; Ghana; India; Indonesia; Iraq; Iran; Ivory Coast; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kyrgstan; Mongolia; Mozambique; Mexico; Nigeria; Philippines; Poland; Russia; Slovakia; South Yemen; Soviet Union; Sudan; Sri Lanka; Syria; Tanzania; Turkmenistan; United Arab Emirates; Ukraine; United States; Uzbekistan; Yemen; Yugoslavia; Zimbabwe

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Antonov An-12BK (Cub) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 108.60 feet (33.1 meters)
WIDTH: 124.67 feet (38 meters)
HEIGHT: 34.55 feet (10.53 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 6,173 pounds (2,800 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 134,482 pounds (61,000 kilograms)
ENGINE: 4 x ZMDB Progress (Ivchenko) AI-20M turboprop engines generating 4,252 shaft horsepower each.
SPEED (MAX): 300 miles-per-hour (482 kilometers-per-hour; 260 knots)
RANGE: 2,237 miles (3,600 kilometers; 1,944 nautical miles)
CEILING: 34,449 feet (10,500 meters; 6.52 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,960 feet-per-minute (597 meters-per-minute)

Usually none though some variants may be armed with tail-mounted 2 x 23mm Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23 series cannons.
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon

Series Model Variants
• An-12 - Base initial production model; fitted with Ivchenko AI-20A engines of 4,000 horsepower
• An-12A - Improved An-12; additional fuel cells; fitted with Ivchenko AI-20K engines of 4,250 horsepower.
• An-12AD - Single example An-12 from Tashkent
• An-12AP - An-12A with additional two fuel tanks
• An-12B - Improved An-12; additional fuel stores; strengthened wing center; detachable wing elements; improved cargo handling; outfitted with improved Ivchenko AI-20M engines of 4,250 horsepower.
• An-12B (LIAT) - Crash investigation platform modified from An-12B; single example
• An-12B-30 - Proposed An-12 with AI-20K engines of 5,180 horsepower; increased cargo load capability.
• An-12B-I - Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) platform; seven examples
• An-12BK - Improved avionics suite; increased cargo capacity; enlarged cargo door
• An-12BK-IS - An-12BK models modified for ECM duty; 40 examples
• An-12BK-PPS - An-12PP serving as ECM aircraft
• An-12BKK - One-off VIP conversion with pressurized passenger cabin
• An-12BKSh - Navigation Trainer based on An-12BK
• An-12BKT - Aerial tanker version
• An-12BKV - Proposed bomber/naval mine dispenser platform
• An-12BL - Kh-28 aerial missile testbed
• An-12BM - An-12B modified to serve in SATCOM role; single example
• An-12BP - Additional fuel stores
• An-12BPTs - An-12BP airframes modified for atmospheric research role; two examples
• An-12BSh - Navigational trainer platform
• An-12BSM - Improved commercial cargo hauler
• An-12BZ-1 - Proposed aerial tanker
• An-12BZ-2 - Proposed aerial tanker
• An-12D - Proposed improved An-12; revised undercarriage; increased cargo hauling capabilities; new empennage.
• An-12DK - Proposed variant outfitted with Ivchenko AI-30 engines of 5,500 horsepower
• As-12D-UPS - Aerodynamic testbed laboratory
• An-12M - Proposed modified An-12 with AI-20DM engines of 5,180 horsepower
• An-12P - Additional two fuel tanks added
• An-12PL -Arctic/cold weather environment conversion model; ski-type undercarriage arrangement
• An-12PP - ECM variant
• An-12PS - An-12B with Search and Rescue functionality
• An-12R - Dedicated reconnaissance platform
• An-12RR - Radiation reconnaissance platform
• An-12RU - Proposed JATO (Jet-Assisted Take-Off) variant
• An-12SN - Special mission airframe; improved cargo hauling capabilities for the transport of main battle tanks and similar; 1 x Mikulin RD-9 turbojet for added lift.
• An-12T - Aerial tanker variant
• An-12TP-2 - Long-range geographical survey platform; single example from An-12B line
• An-12TA
• An-12TB
• An-12TBP
• An-12TBK
• An-12U - Aerodynamic airborne testbed
• An-12UD - Extended range form
• An-12UD-3 - Increased range variant
• An-12VKP - Airborne Command Post; single example from An-12A line
• An-40 - Based on An-12D model; outfitted with AI-30 engines of 5,500 horsepower; never adopted.
• An-40PLO - Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) variant
• An-42 - An-40 for aerodynamic airborne testing
• Shaanxi Y-8 - Chinese local copy of the An-12BP model; various other variants developed since.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Antonov An-12 (Cub) Military Transport Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/22/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Antonov An-12 (NATO codename of "Cub") was the primary medium-lift military transport of the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies during the Cold War decades. It operated in similar form and function to the American Lockheed C-130 Hercules which proved exceedingly popular in the West. The An-12 held a direct origin to the An-8, a twin-engine, high-winged light military transport adopted by the Soviet Air Force as well as the civilian passenger airliner concern of Aeroflot. The An-10 was then born of the An-8 to become a four-engined passenger hauler with lengthened fuselage for Aeroflot and, from this, was delivered the military-minded An-12 - retaining the former's four-engine design and high-mounted wings while introducing a rear cargo access ramp akin to the preceding An-8 design.

With more land area to defend than any other superpower of the time, the Soviet military was faced with the daunting prospect of finding ways to mobilize and transport large amounts of men, equipment and weapons to hotspots wherever they may arise. As such, the nation went through an extended period of developing medium and heavy freighters (which continued to this day) to help fill this important logistical role.

The An-12 was designed by Russian Oleg Antonov whose bureau shares his name. First flight of an An-12 prototype was on December 16th, 1957 and powered through 4 x Kuznetsov NK-4 turboprop engines. This same prototype was then severely damaged on a landing approach in 1958, perhaps serving as a symbol of the aircraft's troubled existence still to be realized. Further testing finally cleared the type for military service as the An-12BP and these were outfitted with 4 x Ivchenko AI-20 series turboprop engines. Production of the type spanned from 1957 into 1973 to which 1,248 were produced under various configurations and designations.

The value of such platforms as the An-12 lay in their short runway capabilities and hauling qualities. This was aided, in part, by the high-mounted wings and four engine installations. The high-mounted wing allowed for strong lifting qualities while also clearing the spinning propeller blades from ground personnel moving around the outside of the aircraft. The raised tail unit also allowed unrestricted access to the cargo hold by way of a powered door and loading ramp. With the cockpit set well-forward in the design, the fuselage could largely serve to manage cargo as well as fuel stores and other mission-pertinent components. While traditionally unarmed, some Zn-12 variants featured a 2 x 23mm NR-23 cannon installation at the tail to counter perusing aircraft - a common practice seen in many large aircraft of the Cold War period. A typical crew numbered five personnel to include a pair of pilots, a flight engineer, a navigator and a radioman.

Antonov An-12 (Cub) (Cont'd)

Military Transport Aircraft

Antonov An-12 (Cub) (Cont'd)

Military Transport Aircraft

The aircraft was powered by 4 x Ivchenko (now Progress) AI-20L turboprop engines of 4,000 horsepower output each. This allowed the airframe a maximum speed of 480 miles per hour with a cruising speed of 415 miles per hour. Range with a complete fuel load was 3,540 miles. Service ceiling was listed at 33,500 feet with a rate-of-climb (depending on load) of 1,960 feet per minute.

The "Cub" would go on to fill a myriad of other roles in both wartime and peacetime, chief among these becoming an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) station, an aerial refueling tanker and primary crew trainer. India received some forty units and converted some as bombers during the Indo-Pak War. Similarly, Sri Lanka modified a pair of transports as ad hoc bombers in ongoing battles with Tamil Tiger rebels. After the Soviet-Chinese split of the 1960s and having acquired kits for license production of the An-12, China built the aircraft locally before reverse-engineering the line and reintroducing it as the Shannxi Y-8. The Y-8 line was equally broadened into a myriad of available variants including a dedicated maritime reconnaissance variant. Soviet examples of the Cold War were exported solely to allied nations.

The An-12 is still in active use today (2013) but it's terrible accident record had precluded its use across some airspaces of the world. The series has seen nearly 200 recorded accidents during its service lifetime. In fact, an An-12 has recently been linked to a December 2013 crash in Russia, killing five of its crew memebers.

The Antonov An-12 "Cub" series was eventually formally replaced in Soviet/Russian service (among others) by the larger, jet-powered Ilyushin IL-76 "Candid" line which, itself, continues in service today (2013).


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 (300mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Antonov An-12BK (Cub)'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.

Site Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Cookies  |  Site Map Site content ©2003-, All Rights Reserved.

The "Military Factory" name and logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world.

Facebook Logo