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Antonov An-22 Antei

Heavy-Lift Turbo-Prop Transport Aircraft


The title of largest turboprop-powered aircraft falls to the mammoth Antonov An-22 Antei developed during the Cold War-era by the Soviets.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Antonov An-22 Antei Heavy-Lift Turbo-Prop Transport Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 3/3/2018. Authored by Dan Alex. Content ©
Showcasing one of the largest armies in the world during the Cold War (1947-1991), the Soviet military required many large transport-minded aircraft for airlifting men, machines and supplies. Its stable of such aircraft eventually included the Antonov An-22 "Antei" for heavy strategic airlifting. The product became the largest aircraft in the world to feature turboprop engines and was produced in 68 examples from the period spanning 1966 into 1976. The An-22 remains in active service today (2017).

Its name is derived from the Greek mythology character of "Antaeus", the son of Poseidon.

The An-22 first flew in prototype form on February 27th, 1965 and, following the requisite testing scheme and earning certification, the product was introduced a short time late in 1967. To this point, the Military Transport Aviation service of the Soviet Air Force was relying on An-8 and An-12 models which fulfilled medium-lift roles and a larger transport was required.

The Antonov Design Bureau was charged with design and development of a shoulder-winged, multi-engined aircraft and this begat the designation of "An-20". The product eventually evolved under the well-known An-22 designation by the time it reached its first flight. During the 1965 Paris Air Show, the An-22 was unveiled to the public for the first time, allowing Western observers a first-hand look at the large aircraft.

Antonov engineers created a unique-looking aircraft, though in many ways decidedly an Antonov design. The fuselage was tubular though squat, creating the wide-body internal volume required in the transport role. Bulges along the lower fuselage sides housed an array of landing wheels to coincide with the nose gear (also designed with rough-field operations in mind). The aircraft was purposefully low to the ground when landed which aided in loading and unloading cargo. The high-wing nature of the aircraft also allowed for strong lift principles and clearance of the spinning propeller blades away from ground personnel. Each wing managed a pair of turboprop engines at their leading edges. The cockpit was set well-forward in the design with a commanding view over the short nose assembly. The empennage was raised and capped by a split-rudder arrangement. The operating crew numbered. Dimensions included a length of 190 feet, a wingspan of 211 feet and a height of 41 feet. Rear cargo doors allow access to the deep hold within. The forward section of the fuselage - including cockpit - is pressurized and includes a space for seating twenty-nine personnel.

Antonov An-22 Antei (Cont'd)

Heavy-Lift Turbo-Prop Transport Aircraft

Antonov An-22 Antei (Cont'd)

Heavy-Lift Turbo-Prop Transport Aircraft

Power was served through 4 x Kuznetsov NK-12MA turboprop engines driving contra-rotating propellers and each delivering up to 15,000 shaft horsepower. Performance included a maximum speed of 460 miles per hour with a range out to 6,800 miles under load. When empty, the aircraft weighed 250,000lb - this value drove up as high as 550,000lb for a maximum take-off weight (MTOW).

Variants of the An-22 was limited beginning with the three prototypes (differentiated by their heavily-glazed noses). Thirty-seven production forms of the base An-22 then followed. The An-22A designation marked new aircraft with improved electrics and communications as well as an "air-start" function. Some twenty-eight of this mark were completed. The An-22PZ was a short-lived follow-up design noted for its three-finned tail unit and able to utilize the wing sections of the An-124 and An-225 aircraft. Only two were converted for this purpose. Antonov even developed a proposed civilian airliner with seating for over 700 passengers but this initiative fell to naught.

In practice, the Antonov An-22 proved its airlift capabilities, first by undertaking a series of humanitarian missions to ravaged parts of the world. The military was soon to enjoy its benefits when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. During the fighting, at least one was lost to the enemy outside of Kabul in 1984. Beyond that, the An-22 has served its purpose in delivering large quantities of personnel, vehicles (including medium-lift helicopters and supplies to various points in the world. Despite her qualities, operators of the An-22 have proven relatively few over the years - the Soviet Air Force An-22 stock fell to the now-Russian Air Force and limited examples have been in service with Ukraine and Bulgaria (only leased). Numbers of the An-22 have dwindled over time with the Russian Air Force having moved on to the An-124 line.


YEAR: 1967
STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Antonov Design Bureau - Soviet Union
LENGTH: 190.03 ft (57.92 m)
WIDTH: 211.29 ft (64.4 m)
HEIGHT: 41.11 ft (12.53 m)
MTOW: 551,156 lb (250,000 kg)
POWER: 4 x KKBM Kuznetsov NK-12MA turboprop engines developing 15,000 horsepower each and driving four-bladed propeller units.
SPEED: 460 mph (740 kph; 400 kts)
CEILING: 24,606 feet (7,500 m; 4.66 miles)
RANGE: 3,107 miles (5,000 km; 2,700 nm)
OPERATORS: Bulgaria; Russia; Soviet Union; Ukraine

Variants / Models

• An-22 - Base series designation; covers three prototypes and 37 first-batch aircraft.
• An-22A - Improved An-22 with updated electrical system and communications/navigation; 28 examples produced.
• An-22PZ - Two modified An-22 airframes supporting wing sections of An-124 and An-225; three-finned tail unit.

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
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (460mph).

Graph average of 375 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Antonov An-22 Antei'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 (68)
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.

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