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An-12BKVDecember 2017 marked 60 years since the first flight of the An-12 cargo plane. The top of the aircraft was An-12VK [seen as AH-12BK], on the base of which created a whole family of specialized aircraft. The closest foreign analogue of the An-12BK is the C-130 Hercules. Comparison of both aircraft is not in favor of the An-12.

In 1957, serial construction of the medium military transport aircraft An-12 began. It was the first Soviet production vehicle with four AI-20 turboprop engines. In total, more than 1,200 aircraft of this type were built at the three aircraft factories from 1957 to 1973. The design of the fuselage of the transport An-12 almost completely coincided with the design of the fuselage of the passenger An-10. The main difference between the An-12 was the stern, where there was a cargo hatch and a tail gun.

The An-12 greatly expanded the capabilities of Soviet airborne troops. This aircraft could carry not only 60 paratroopers, but also heavy equipment and weapons weighing up to 21 tons with a cruising speed of 570 km / h. Flight range with normal load - 3200 km.

From the very beginning, the An-12 provided suspension for bombs for various purposes. For sighting and dropping of landed cargo, the navigator has OPB-1R and NKPB-7 sights and a panoramic radar RBP-2 for determining the point of dropping cargo out of sight of the ground.

There were several options for placing bomb weapons. On the right side of the fuselage was a bomb bay with a hatch for two air bombs with a caliber of 50 to 100 kg or six bombs with a caliber of 25 kg. Similarly, small-caliber bombs were hung on beams in front of the fairings of the chassis. This is how special purpose bombs were usually placed: indicative-signal, lighting, photographic and others. In the tail of the fuselage was a tablet holder for vertical suspension of 6 bombs or radiosondes.

In 1969 at the Air Force Research Institute studies on the An-12BKV [not An-12VKB - BKV Vozdushnyy Kommandnyy Bombardirovshhik = Air Command Bomber] were conducted to expand its combat opportunities. Given the huge payload the plane, if the plane is loaded with bombs, then it will turn into a heavy bomber. The aviation industry handed over to the customer several An-12BKV, lifting up to 12,000 kg of deadly cargo.

On the plane AN-12BKV loaded with a total weight of up to 10 tons of bombs. In 15 seconds, in the SERIES mode, a 2-kilometer section is covered. Actually carpet bombing. During the Indian-Pakistani war at 1965-66, the Indians sometimes used their An-12s as night bombers. And they were successful enough: during some raids they carried as much as 16 tons of bombs. Once the Antonov was intercepted by the Pakistani Mirage, but escaped successfully.

This Indian practice suggested the Antonov designers to make a special bomber version of the An-12. The An-12BKV was built in 1969; it was fitted by stationary conveyor (named TG-12MV) for bomb dumping, and could carry a bomb load up to 12 tons (70x 100-kg bombs, or 29-32x 250-kg, or 18-22x 500-kg bombs). It also could be used for mine-laying, carrying 18x UDM-500 aerial mines.

The combat load was located in the cargo compartment. The discharge of bombs or mines was carried out by means of a stationary conveyor through an open cargo hatch. The production of a small series of cars was launched in 1969 in Tashkent. All transport modifications were equipped with a conveyor. The An-12BKV could carry a conveyor loaded with 70 bombs of 100 kg caliber ( OFAB , ZAB ) or 29-32 bombs of 250 kg caliber (OFAB, ZAB, PTAB, RBC ) or 18 bombs of 500 kg caliber ( FAB , ZAB, FZAB , or 18 UDM-500 aircraft ammunition for dropping from the conveyor TG-12MB.

Tests had shown the acceptable efficiency of using the An-12BKV for bombing only on areas, since the standard sighting equipment installed on the An-12 was not enough to hit point targets. The large dispersion of bombs dropped from an open cargo loom also affected.

During the tests it became clear that the acceptable effectiveness of bombing with An-12BKV can be carried out only for field purposes. The main reason was the large scattering of bombs dropped by a conveyor from an open cargo hatch. In addition, there were no special bombing sights on the plane, and the capabilities of the available regular day and night sights were clearly insufficient. But, at the aircraft plant in Tashkent, An-12BKV aircraft were built in small series. Later, the construction of special "bombing" modifications was abandoned. If necessary, all military transport modifications of the An-12 could be quickly converted into bombers after the installation of a special conveyor TG-12MV.

The standard loading scheme provided for the placement in the cargo cabin of up to 42,100 kg of air bombs, up to 34 bombs of 250 kg caliber and up to 22 RBC-500 or 18,500 kg of explosives. Great difficulties arose with the loading of large-caliber bombs FAB-1500M54 and FAB-3000M54. These aircraft ammunition were of solid size. Heavy bombs were dragged into the cargo compartment of the plane with the help of winches, placing wooden rollers under them. The width of the bombs in the package exceeded a meter, and the length - more than three meters, so that the An-12 could take them no more than three pieces, stacked one after another along the entire length of the cargo cabin.

The most rational in terms of covering the site and long-term targets was the loading of 250 kg and 500 kg of bombs and disposable bomb cassettes. The An-12 transport aircraft as a heavy bomber could be compared to a squadron of Su-7B bombers in terms of the mass of a bomb volley. Also, the An-12 proved to be very effective as a director of sea mines. Relatively low speed and the possibility of stable flight at low altitudes allowed to place mines with good accuracy and with relatively little scattering. A big advantage of transport vehicles compared to other specialized strike aircraft were lower operating and fuel costs when performing the same task.

For precision bombing and dumping of the payload in the cabin navigator installed NKPB-7 targeting complex. Two outer beam bomb racks are located in front of the fairings of the chassis and two in the rear inside. The DYA-SS-AT box holder for the vertical suspension of 6 bombs is located in the rear of the fuselage.

The An-12 bombing could only take place during a horizontal flight without any maneuvering. The presence of anti-aircraft cover in the area of ??the target for a bulky and slow transporter could be fatal. However, since the early 1970s, the training plans for military transport aircraft crews have included the task of testing bombing. An-12, bombing areas, could perform the task of "cleaning" the landing area, thus reducing possible losses among the paratroopers.

For the first time in a real combat situation, the An-12 was used as a bomber by the Indian Air Force. Crews of the Indian Air Force, whose An-12 was equipped with bomb weapons during the war with Pakistan, in 1971 struck at airfields, weapons depots and fuel depots. The mass of the combat load reached 16 tons. IAF had toyed with the idea of using the An-12s for bombing when Wing Commander VC Mankotia, VM & Bar, took over the command of IAFs 44 Squadron in 1967. The innovative idea was encouraged by the then CAS (Chief of the Air Staff), Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh.

IAF had toyed with the idea of using the An-12s for bombing when Wing Commander VC Mankotia, VM & Bar, took over the command of IAFs 44 Squadron in 1967. The innovative idea was encouraged by the then CAS (Chief of the Air Staff), Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh.

After the first successful raids against stationary objects, the Indian An-12 went on night bombings directly on the battle lines of the enemy troops. To increase accuracy, bombing was often carried out from low altitudes, which required a lot of courage and professionalism from the pilots. The use of powerful 250-500 kg bombs from low altitudes was a very dangerous thing, with a close rupture of the fragments could hit the bomber itself. Therefore, in low-altitude bombings, incendiary napalm tanks were mainly used, and their fire bursts had a strong demoralizing effect on Pakistani soldiers.

The efficiency of the use of bomb-loaded An-12 vehicles at night was even higher than that of the specialized British-built Canberra jet bombers. In total, the An-12 of the Indian Air Force made several dozen night combat sorties without losing a single aircraft. The Pakistanis repeatedly intercepted the Mirage-3 and F-104 fighters, but the Indian An-12 managed to evade them each time.

The Soviet Air Force actively used the An-12 to bomb during the fighting in Afghanistan. Unlike attack aircraft and fighter-bomber, which acted at the request of the ground forces, the work of the An-12 was routinely planned. Loaded with powerful Ana explosives, bombs were dropped on fortified areas and rebel bases from a safe height inaccessible to MANPADS and small-caliber anti-aircraft guns. Of course, the accuracy of such bombings was low, but it was offset by the number and caliber of air bombs. Some of the detonators of air bombs were placed with a delay of several hours to several days. This was to complicate the restoration work, and simply make it dangerous to stay in the area that was bombed.

Unexpectedly, work was found in Afghanistan for the rear gunners of the rear defensive firing point. After several transport planes were shot down and damaged by MANPADS and ZSU fire during takeoff and landing, the side arrows began to "comb" the suspicious places in the vicinity of the airfields with the fire of their 23-mm rapid-fire guns. It is difficult to say how effective this was, but such a precautionary measure in combination with the abundantly fired heat traps had a beneficial effect on the mental balance of the An-12 crews. Following the withdrawal of the Soviet contingent from Afghanistan, the Afghan Air Force also practiced bombing from military transport aircraft. But unlike the Soviet Air Force, their bombings were often haphazard and ineffective.

In the 90s and 2000s, created for transportation, the An-12 became one of the most combative aircraft on the African continent. As of 1998, the Ethiopian Air Force had six An-12s. In the early stages of the Ethiopia-Eretria conflict, Ethiopian transporters repeatedly dropped bombs on Eretrian militias. However, shortly after the appearance of the Square SAM and MiG-29 fighters received from Ukraine in Eritrea, An-12 flights for bombing ceased.

Transport aircraft were widely used for strike purposes during the Angolan Civil War from 1992 to 2002. An-12 along with An-26 bombed the positions of armed units of the UNITA movement. Loaded with dozens of bombs and napalm tanks from a safe height, they plowed and burned acres of jungle. Unable to get "Ana" on the combat course, UNITA fighters began to catch transport aircraft on takeoff and landing, without making a difference in the nationality of the aircraft. The victims of MANPADS and anti-aircraft guns in the vicinity of Angolan airfields were about 20 A-12 and An-26.

In the mid-1990s, An-12 planes in Zaire dropped bombs on the jungle in an attempt to stop an offensive by anti-government rebels in the capital, Kinshasa. However, after the overthrow of President Mobutu's dictatorship in 1997, peace in that country never came. Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, found itself embroiled in the "Great African War." This large-scale armed conflict, little covered in the world media, was in fact provoked by transnational corporations that started a war for the redistribution of ownership of the richest natural resources in Central Africa. More than 5 million people became victims of the war, the active phase of which lasted from 1998 to 2002. Large-scale hostilities were conducted by all available means and the An-12 aircraft, which were in the DRC Air Force in the amount of five units in flight, were actively used as bombers.

Currently, the transport An-12, located abroad, in flight is not much. Production of this aircraft ended more than 40 years ago, and despite repeated extensions of life, their careers are coming to an end.

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