Antonov An-22 Antei (Russian: Антей (Antaeus) (NATO reporting name "Cock") was the world's largest aircraft, until the advent of American C-5 Galaxy and later the Soviet An-124. Powered by 4 contra-rotating turboprops, the design remains the world's largest turboprop-powered aircraft. It first appeared outside the Soviet Union at the 1965 Paris Air Show.
The aircraft was design as a strategic airlifter, designed specifically to expand the capability of the airborne troops to land with their then-new BMD-1 armoured vehicles. The An-22 cargo hold can accommodate four of these as opposed to one in the An-12.
It also has the capability to takeoff from austere, unpaved and short airstrips, allowing airborne troops to perform air-landing operations. This is achieved by four pairs of contra-rotating propellers, similar to those on the Tupolev Tu-114. The engines generate significant thrust, and produce a slipstream over the wings and large double-slotted flaps. The landing gear is ruggedized for rough airstrips, and, in early versions, tire pressures could be adjusted in flight for optimum landing performance, although that feature was removed in later models.
The An-22 follows traditional cargo transport design with a high-mounted wing allowing a cavernous cargo space of 33m in length and a usable volume of 639m³. The forward fuselage is fully pressurized and provides space for 5 to 8 crew and up to 28 passengers, but the cargo space is pressurized to only 3.55 PSI / 0.245 bar allowing for a lighter airframe. A door equipped pressure bulkhead is located at frame 14, separating the cargo attendant's compartment from the main cargo compartment. This allows the rear cargo doors to be opened during flight for paratroops and equipment drop. Like the An-12, the aircraft has a circular fuselage section. The An-22 has set a number of payload and payload-to-height world records.
The An-22 has the general appearance of an enlarged version of the earlier Antonov An-12 except that it is fitted with a twin tail. This gives the An-22 better engine-out performance, and reduces height restrictions for hangars. Also of note are large anti-flutter masses on the top of each tail.
Only one production variant was built, the standard An-22. Prototypes, such as the one first featured at the 1965 Paris Air Show had fully-glazed noses that lacked the nose mounted radar of production models. Those aircraft had the radar mounted below the right wheel well fairing, forward of the wheels.
The An-22 was originally built for the Soviet Air Force and Aeroflot, the state airline. The conversion from AN-12 in the Air Force begun in July 1974. The 12th Mginsk Red Banner air transport aviation division (airbase Migalovo) was one of the units which had its three regiments entirely equipped with the An-22s. Another unit that operated it was the 566th 'Solnechnogorsk' Military Transport Aviation Regiment, which used the An-22 from 1970 to 1987.
The An-22s from Migalovo were used for the initial insertion of the VDV troops in to Kabul, Kandahar and Bagram during the 1979 Soviet war in Afghanistan. In 1980 one An-22 crashed at Vnukovo International Airport while two more crashed at Migalovo in 1992 and 1994.
In 1984 the military aircraft were used to deliver Mi-8 helicopters to Ethiopia during drought relief operations.
In 1986 the aircraft of the 8th air transport aviation regiment from Migalovo were used to deliver materials for the containment of the Chernobyl disaster effects.
During 1987 the aircraft were used to deliver military equipment to Angola. A year later the military An-22s were used to deliver 15,000 tons and 1,000 personnel in aid of the relief of earthquake disaster in Armenia.
An-22s were used to deliver internal security troops to many ethnic regional conflicts during and after the break up of the Soviet Union, and during the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Germany, notably airlifting the 104th Guards Airborne Division. In 1995 they delivered the Russian peacekeeping contingent from the 98th airborne division to Bosnia - Herzegovina during the Bosnian War.
Approximately 45 remained in service by the mid-1990s, mostly with the Russian Air Force, but these are slowly being replaced by the bigger turbofan-powered Antonov An-124. The remaining An-22s appear to be operated by an independent military transport aviation squadron at Tver (Migalovo). Currently one An-22 is in use for civilian cargo duties with Antonov Airlines.
A proposed civil airliner version capable of seating 724 passengers on upper and lower decks was not built. (For comparison, a typical Boeing 747 can carry 400-500 passengers.)
As of 2004 there had been 8 accidents with a total of 83 fatalities.
The aircraft is also used in special operations.
Published - July 2009
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