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Antonov An-26 (Curl)

Transport Aircraft

Soviet Union | 1969

"The Soviet-era Antonov An-26 Curl transport made a name for itself during the Cold War, produced in some 1,400 examples overall."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/02/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this 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.

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March 2022 - Serbia has signed a deal to replace its aging fleet of Soviet-era An-26 tactical transports with CN295 types. Deliveries are expected to begin late 2023.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Antonov An-26 (Curl) Transport Aircraft.
2 x Progress AI-24VT turboprop engines developing 2,820 horsepower each.
277 mph
445 kph | 240 kts
Max Speed
24,606 ft
7,500 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
1,553 miles
2,500 km | 1,350 nm
Operational Range
1,575 ft/min
480 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Antonov An-26 (Curl) Transport Aircraft.
78.1 ft
23.80 m
O/A Length
95.8 ft
(29.20 m)
O/A Width
28.2 ft
(8.60 m)
O/A Height
33,069 lb
(15,000 kg)
Empty Weight
52,911 lb
(24,000 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Notable series variants as part of the Antonov An-26 (Curl) family line.
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
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Antonov An-26 (Curl). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1,403 Units

Contractor(s): Antonov Design Bureau - Soviet Union
National flag of Afghanistan National flag of Angola National flag of Bangladesh National flag of Belarus National flag of Bulgaria National flag of Chad National flag of China National flag of Cuba National flag of Czechia National flag of Denmark National flag of Ethiopia National flag of modern Germany National flag of East Germany National flag of Guinea National flag of Hungary National flag of Iraq National flag of Kazakhstan National flag of Kyrgyzstan National flag of Latvia National flag of Libya National flag of Lithuania National flag of Mongolia National flag of Mozambique National flag of Namibia National flag of Nicaragua National flag of Niger National flag of Pakistan National flag of Peru National flag of the Philippines National flag of Poland National flag of Romania National flag of Russia National flag of Serbia National flag of Slovakia National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Sudan National flag of Somalia National flag of Syria National flag of Tajikistan National flag of Tanzania National flag of Turkmenistan National flag of Ukraine National flag of the United States National flag of Uzbekistan National flag of Vietnam National flag of Venezuela National flag of Yemen National flag of Yugoslavia National flag of Zambia

[ 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 ]
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Image of the Antonov An-26 (Curl)
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS imagery network database.

Going Further...
The Antonov An-26 (Curl) Transport Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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