Strange Vehicles: Antonov A-40 “Flying Tank”

Antonov A-40 Russian flying tank

The Antonov A-40 Krylya Tanka – which in Russian means “Tank Wings” – was a prototype aircraft/light tank combination developed by the Soviets during the dark days of the Second World War.

The Antonov A-40 was a glider, not a powered aircraft. The idea was that a large, powerful transport aircraft would tow the A-40 into the air and to the battlefield where it would glide down to the ground with the crew already aboard. Once on the ground, the wooden wings and tail booms would be quickly unbolted and the tank would operate like any other.

The tank used for the prototype A-40 was a T-60 light tank. The tank was modified for air use by removing its armament, ammunition, lights, and most of the fuel. However on the one and only test flight of the Antonov A-40, the large TB-3 bomber used as the tow aircraft proved to be unable to cope with the extreme weight, and the A-40 had to be cut loose prematurely to prevent the TB-3 from crashing. Amazingly the skilled Soviet test pilot Sergei Anokhin, who was flying the A-40, managed to bring it safely to the ground, and then drove it back to the airbase!

Antonov A-40 Russian flying tank

Despite the fact the concept showed promise. The Soviets lacked a sufficiently powerful aircraft to safely tow the Antonov A-40 for the distances and speeds required. The project was abandoned after the sole 1942 flight.

Antonov A-40 Specifications:

Crew: Two
Capacity: 1 × T-60 tank
Length: 12.06 m (39 ft 6¾ in)
Wingspan: 18.00 m (59 ft 0¾ in)
Empty weight: 2,004 kg (4,418 lb)
Gross weight: 7,804 kg (17,205 lb)

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