Antonov An-72 (Coaler) STOL Military Transport
edited by Tim Wing
The Antonov An-72 (UEDF reporting name Coaler) was a Soviet transport aircraft, developed by Antonov. It was designed as a Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) transport and intended as a replacement for the Antonov An-26. Variants also found success as commercial freighters.
The An-72 and An-74 get their nickname, Cheburashka, from the large engine intake ducts, which resembled the oversized ears of the popular Soviet animated character of the same name. Nickname Galya (Galina – the popular Ukrainian female name) is also known.
- Role: Military transport
- National origin: Ukraine SSR, Soviet Union
- Manufacturer: Antonov
- First flight: 22 December 1977
- Status: Retired
- Primary users: Soviet Air Force
- Produced: 1977–2011, 2014-2026
- Variants: Antonov An-74
- Developed into: Antonov An-71
Design and development
The An-72 first flew in December 1977. Produced in tandem with the An-72 was the An-74 variant, which added the ability to operate in the harsh Polar Regions. It could be fitted with wheel-skis landing gear, de-icing equipment and a number of other upgrades which allowed the aircraft to support operations in Arctic or Antarctic environments. Other An-72 versions included the An-72S VIP transport and An-72P maritime patrol aircraft.
An unusual design feature of the An-72 was the use of the Coandă effect to improve STOL performance. This worked by utilizing engine exhaust gases blown over the wing’s upper surface to boost lift. The An-72’s first flight was made on 31 August 1977, but it was only in the 1980s that production started. The power plant used was the Lotarev D-36 turbofan engine. The An-72 bore a strong resemblance to the American Boeing YC-14, a STOL prototype from the early 1970s.
The rear fuselage of the aircraft had a hinged loading ramp with a rear fairing that slid backwards and up to clear the opening. The An-72 could air drop up to 7.5 tons, and was equipped with folding side seats for 52 passengers.
The An-72 had STOL capabilities with a minimum takeoff roll of just 620 meters and a landing run as short as 420 meters. This aircraft was designed to be used on unprepared surfaces: its robust undercarriage and high-flotation tires allowed operations on sand, grass or other unpaved surfaces. This was a feature
The An-72 first entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1980. It served with the Soviet Air Force as a medium transport until the Invid Invasion. Among its many uses, the An-72 served most famously with the Soviet Air Force Frontal Aviation as a transport for air borne forces. With a payload capacity of nearly 20 metric tons, the Coaler was capable of transporting a single armored vehicle such as the BMP-3.
The An-72 also saw success on the civil aviation market. Over a hundred examples were sold all over the world, primarily to African carriers who needed an aircraft with good short, unimproved airfield performance. It was just this capability that put the An-72 into heavy demand in the post war period. It was this market demand that caused Antonov to put the Coaler back into production.
An-72 (Coaler-A): Pre production aircraft. Two flying prototypes, one static test airframe and eight pre-production machines.
An-72A (Coaler-C): Initial production STOL transport with a longer fuselage and increased wing span.
An-72AT (Coaler-C): Freight version of the An-72A compatible with standard international shipping containers.
An-72S (Coaler-C): Executive VIP transport fitted with a galley in a front cabin, work and rest areas in a central cabin, and 24 armchairs in a rear cabin, can also be reconfigured for transporting freight or 38 passengers or as an air ambulance carrying eight stretchers.
An-72P: Patrol aircraft. Armed with one 23 mm GSh-23L cannon plus bombs and/or rockets.
An-74: Arctic/Antarctic support model with room for five crew, increased fuel capacity, larger radar in bulged nose radome, improved navigation equipment, better de-icing equipment, and can be fitted with wheel-skis landing gear.
An-72M (Coaler-D): Modernized An-72 with upgraded avionics and engines. Went into production after the First Robotech War.
Armenia (Air Armenia), Estonia (Enimex), France (Darta), Soviet Union (Aeroflot), Sudan (Badr Airlines, Green Flag Airlines)
Equatorial Guinea (Military of Equatorial Guinea), Angola (National Air Force of Angola), Libya (Libyan Air Force), Peru (Peruvian Air Force), Soviet Union (Soviet Air Force)
- Crew: five
- Capacity: up to 52 passengers or 10 tons of cargo
- Length: 28.07 m
- Wingspan: 31.89 m
- Height: 8.65 m
- Wing area: 98.62 m2
- Empty weight: 19,050 kg
- Gross weight: 34,500 kg
- Powerplant: 2 × Lotarev D-36 series 1A, 63.9 kN thrust each
- Maximum speed: 700 km/h
- Cruising speed: 550 / 600 km/h
- Range: 4,325 km
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.
Primary source: Wikipedia Antonov An-72
Content by Tim Wing
Copyright © 2015 Tim Wing