Cargo planes have an unmistakable sound. Seasoned avgeeks can identify a plane just by the sound it makes as its flying over head. The original C-5 was unique with it’s TF-39s screaming,. The C-133 had a distinctive whine. The C-17’s aggressive roar of its P&W F-117 motors lets you know that it’s going to stop in less than 2,000 feet once it touches down. And The C-130’s four fans of freedom make an unmistakable sound that has inspired generations for over 60 years!
But there’s another, lesser known turboprop whose sound is also unmistakable. It’s the Antonov AN-22. The AN-22 first flew in 1965. It was designed as a strategic airlifter that could land on short, austere runways throughout Russia. The plane has a crew of between 5 to 8. The front of the craft is fully pressurized with the ability to carry up to 28 passengers. The after compartment is only partially pressurized.
The AN-22 is powered by four turboprop engines each with two counter-rotating props each. A total of 68 AN-22 were built. Only 6 remain active. Antonov airlines operates the only civilian AN-22 still in service. The Russian Air Force operates 5 planes.
The AN-22 can carry up to 176,000 lbs of payload. By comparison, the C-17 can carry around 170,000 lbs of cargo/passengers.
Bonus: Why does the AN-22 have two tails?
Here’s one for trivia night. The AN-22 looks pretty similar in shape to the AN-12 just with two tails. The second tail reduces the height requirement for the tail and allows for better engine out performance.
Also, if you need to wow your friends at trivia night, the NATO reporting name for the AN-22 is ‘cock’. And now you know.