The Antonov An-225 Seems To Have Been Destroyed After All

Something that probably unites most Hackaday readers is a love of machines, particularly unique or interesting ones. In the world of aircraft for example, we’ve run several stories about those which push the edges of the size envelope, be they the Hughes Hercules troop carrier, the Scaled Composites Stratolifter space launcher, or the Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo plane. This last machine has been in the news for all the wrong reasons over the last few days, with reports emerging that it may have been destroyed in the fighting around its base at Hostomel near Kyiv. There has been some uncertainty around this news as it has alternately been claimed to have been destroyed or to have miraculously survived, but now a set of photographs have emerged showing what appears to be the An-225 burning in its damaged hangar.

The An-225 is a unique aircraft not only in the sense that there is no other model quite like it, but also because it was manufactured for the special purpose of being the transport carrier of the Soviet Union’s Buran space shuttle, and thus only one airframe was completed. Its characteristic twin tail served to avoid the turbulence that would have resulted from a Buran mounted on top of its enormous fuselage, and the six engine configuration required to move such a behemoth was in part the clue to identifying it in the photograph. Those readers who were lucky enough to see it take off or land in person will attest to its impressive physical presence, while the rest of us remain sad to have missed that chance.

It seems crass to talk about the destruction of an aircraft when compared to the scale of the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine, but we think perhaps our British and French readers who grew up with Concorde in the sky will understand the power of such a machine as a source of pride. We hope that the Antonov company will return to the design of huge cargo aircraft in peacetime, and Ukranians can again have pride in a monster aircraft that the rest of us will drive for miles just to watch taking off or landing.

The issue of which aircraft is the world’s largest can be a complex one, as we’ve explored in the past.

Header image: Vasiliy Koba, CC BY-SA 4.0.

49 thoughts on “The Antonov An-225 Seems To Have Been Destroyed After All

  1. I was lucky to see the AN-225 a few times at a local airport. I thought the AN-140 was impressive, but this was awesome!!!

    Just one more casualty of this ongoing tragedy.

    1. I saw an Airbus A380 land at Farnborough Air Show once. It looked like a perfectly normal airliner until you realised that the little business jets parked in front of it were 747s. And the AN-225 was _even bigger_.

  2. That photo was poorly analyzed. Someone WANTED to see the 225 in there and extrapolated it from that. The 225 was actually facing in the opposite direction, as evidenced by a post photo (see link). The plane was not turned around after the fact. It would seem the front end may have sustained some damage, but it’s probably by no means “destroyed”. The An-225 will live on.

    1. Yeah, no idea why people are still speculating. There are also new videos from the ground showing wrecked military vehicles in front of the burned down hangar with the ruins of Mirja inside.

  3. As Mr Stiles put it – “you guarantee war ! they’ll be back, not just one ship, but with everything they’ve got ! you know that Mr Science Officer, but you’ve always left out that one fact, I’m very interested in why !” – and a certain Vulcan’s science officer’s response: “weakness is one thing we dare not show”

      1. I believe the last flight was to Billund in Denmark with more than 3000 pallets of Covid test kits. Afaiu it was getting work done on one of the engines, which i why it couldn’t fly out to safety

  4. Saw it in person at the Payne Field Airshow in the 90’s. Got to walk inside. Unbelievably huge. APU’s where in the wheel sponsons, and for some reason, exhaust pointed down, so when they lit one up to get power to open the nose door, it dug a 3 foot crater in the tarmac. I’m guessing Ivan mostly uses concrete runways?

    1. That’s where/when I saw it, and walked up its ramp into the cargo bay. And I remember the hole in the pavement. Later in the day they covered it with something, probably to keep it from burning all the way through.

    1. Indeed, it was depressing enough seeing how little progress was really being made globally on dealing with our rather urgent climate change problems, but at least that was hopeful as at last (decades late) the science is being listened to and acted on (somewhat poorly, with those promised aid budgets to help the poorer nations cope materializing oh so quickly, but just global acceptance of the problem is vast progress over burying our heads in the sand for so long).

      Then you get some old selfagrandising scumbag who seems to be living in a rather deluded state of mind, with no comprehension of the state of the world, wanting the USSR back… With no regard at all for destruction and death he is going to be responsible for, which with how hard the existing sanctions are already biting the poor Russian serfs won’t just be in Ukraine… All with such blatantly hollow justification, if NATO were at all Aggressive as he wants to paint them they wouldn’t be sitting on our hands letting the Ukrainians fight this fight so alone, if Ukraine was Nazi at all they wouldn’t have put Jews to the top of their government…

      Not sure he really is at all delusional though, as with the top paragraph finally being accepted globally everyone was already moving away from oil and gas, which is what gives him power to act as he pleased – Nobody wanted to risk him turning off the tap… Plus all the nations around him being nervous of this ongoing bad behaviour and leaning towards choosing to join in NATO, that would then (I hope at least) get a lethal response should he then agitate or invade them. Plus the strain on budgets of covid measures this might well be the only chance he had to get anything more than the odd extra nibble of the former soviet block nations under his control before he is dead…

      1. The only thing which is going to fix climate change is a complete overhaul of wealth acquisition into some star trek like “we work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity” type system which we appear to be miles away from achieving or, a huge global war and fight for the last resources due to a failure for the last 50years to invest in things ironically other than war.
        So realistically you can either look forward to socialism or death.
        Meanwhile you might as well enjoy fossil fuels before they are banned.

          1. Never happen. If we can’t keep our own house clean, how are we going to make a sustainable town on Mars? Because it doesn’t work without sustainability – then all you have is a bunch of people stranded there with no hope for survival and no way back home. We’re already doomed.

          2. @BrightBlueJim, don’t be quite so pessimistic – you send folks up there to build and live in this town and because there is nothing but death around them they will take great care of their created ecosystem – there isn’t much of it and you can’t just walk for an hour to find a new bit of virgin landscape with all your air brought in from the scope of the whole planet…

            Fully sustainable long term I doubt (at least at town scale any time soon) – but with how close to the asteroids and low Mar’s gravity is bringing in the trickle of extra materials from space as needed is quite plausible.

          3. I’d LIKE to be more optimistic, but when we don’t even have the ability to re-boost the ISS on our own, and NONE of the paths to even lunar exploration are going well, it seems like a pretty long string of things that have to go right in order for life on Mars to become a sustainable thing. As Elon Musk puts it, we know that right now a window is opening for the first time, making this even possible, and we don’t know how long that window will be open. And since as a species we haven’t managed to overcome any of our natural tendencies in order to save ourselves from our own mistakes, instead falling into tribalism on issue after issue, it doesn’t give me any believable path to hope. As we inevitably fail to agree to fix the climate problem, the problem will continue to worsen, and the cries for “EARTH FIRST” will eliminate all funding for interplanetary exploration, even as we lose the ability to do much of anything for our continued place on Earth. Sorry.

          4. Not really true on the ISS – the ability to do so does exist outside of Russian launch vehicles, just because its not been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Space agency with how expensive and slow repairs and replacements are tend to play very very conservative and stick with proven methods for a long time…

            > “right now a window is opening for the first time, making this even possible, and we don’t know how long that window will be open.”

            Indeed, that I can agree with, actually sending people may never happen, but if they get sent because its so obviously in their own interests to be concerned for every square mm of leaf and algae even the worst of humans would actually look after the place built on Mars.

        1. There is a huge gulf between completely fixing climate change, and simply ceasing to making it worse while adapting to the changes it causes – which is enough of a fix to worthy of the term…

          A fight for resources MIGHT happen in the future, but that being ‘required’ at all won’t happen for some time, and could NEVER happen if the international community does start to work together more – which was happening anyway.

          The whole idea behind ‘enjoy fossil fuels’ is just stupid, by all means use them when its the right tool for the job, and as a transitional stop gap to whatever is better for the planet at that task, but wasting resources and trying to ignore the problem is just making that same problem worse, which makes it more unlikely a remotely good outcome can be had – it doesn’t take massive changes to the way people live to become sustainable, but it will take some, and part of that is not acting as you suggest but with some thought of the future…

          1. So give up your car.
            And ask everyone you know to do the same and if they dont, then shun them as they clearly dont are about the planet like you do.
            Feeling lonely now ?

            I dont disagree with what you say, but someone has to make the first move. And then everyone has to be invested and most people just simply are not.
            Most people are too thick to comprehend the epic lifestyle changes than need to take place and those that do simply refuse to make them.

            Fuel is now the equivalent here of over $2/litre and people are still in the local DIY store buying inflatable hot tubs which have a 2KW heater attached to them, meanwhile are whining about energy prices.
            And they whine about climate change but their actions are laughable.

            Or hackaday, presenting a guy fitting a battery powered torque wrench to a small engine, or the guy making an “electric” jet engine.
            Are those good uses of fossil fuel as you state, or people enjoying them like I suggest.

            Good luck…

      2. Ukraine invasion is bad.

        Have you been sleeping over the last 5 invasions committed by US?
        Millions died in those.
        Russians saw that small countries can be invaded without sanctions and condemnation,
        so they decided to do it too.

        Iraqi “WMDs” and Afghan “911” scandal are not forgotten.
        And Libya, from richest country in Africa to ashes.
        And Syria – whose parts are currently occupied by US under “we won’t give them oil” nonsense.

        One finger (or 2) points at Russia, and 5 at US – just since 1999.

        I’m used to people living in echo chambers and ignoring the reality.
        That’s exactly how we got to here.

        If one person reads this before it’s deleted, that’s good.

        1. Misguided war(s) or not this is a rather different situation…

          Iraq was actively hostile and belligerent to its neighbors and their friends the western powers, and after state sponsored training leading to the 911 attack, well if that isn’t a declaration of war… You can argue the merits and values of them all (and such debates have been done openly without reprisal and prison time), but ultimately all those ‘special military operations’ as obviously they can’t be Wars, that word isn’t applicable (at least according to God King Putin) are between fundamentally hostile nations, and actually have some vaguely plausible justifications… Where all of Putin’s justifications for this action ring so hollow they lack any credibility at all…

          Invading a minnow nation that has effectively declared war on you or your friends by its actions, if not openly, is rather different from invading a nation created from the same failed Soviet Empire, that has done absolutely nothing to harm you or your friends since it came into being, and spent the time since the fall of the soviet union trying desperately to play nice with you and everyone else, giving up the Nuclear weapons it inherited in the process, while recovering economically to a well developed nation.

          1. It’s totes adorbs that you think Iraq was involved in 9/11. More likely a country with some nice beachfront property. It bears remembering that the U.S. sold Iraq chemical weapons precursors during the Iran-Iraq war and that Amb. April Glaspie gave Saddam the greenlight to invade Kuwait. Then there were the “aluminum tubes for missile launchers” which put a permanent end to Colin Powell’s credibility.

          2. Those two comments were not meant to be taken together, they are pointing out the situation between the powers that end up fighting before hand is very different. The point is after something like 911 you fight back against those that fund/train or otherwise make it possible, and a war with a power that is very actively hostile to you/your friends (in many of these cases there is already a war on the ground before between pro freedom/democary types and whichever feudal warlord type is there, often for a long time before the USA/France/Nato/UN/etc troops arrive) is very very different to an invasion of a nation that has done nothing since it was created to be anything other than friendly and open…

            The selling of weapon and weapon components around wars is a whole other issue to actively fighting in them… A good one to consider but it is not at all the same thing as being actively engaged in hostilities.

        2. I’ll say it: your comment should be deleted.

          The world hasn’t seem something like this since Poland, and you cavalierly compare destruction of a vibrant democracy to overthrowing feudalist dictatorships? That’s some RT-level of whataboutism than no real person would utter.

        3. Remember Alexei Navalny? The activist who was almost murdered, but survived and was jailed when returning to russia after getting better. How convenient it is that at this exact time, during this war, a court is deciding if he schould go to jail for 15 years. Putin is still pissed of by showing the world what palace is build for him on the black sea.
          This is not politics, its just state organized terror. Every opposition to putin ends up in jail or gets murdered.

      3. Here come all the russian bots with their “oh but what about the usa” in order to redirect attention away from the literal war crimes that are happening. But nope it’s easier to deflect and deny than admit that what’s happening is seriously screwed up and those in charge should be held harshly accountable. I’ll probably be personally attacked because that’s all they have in order to place the target of discussion anywhere except where it should be.

        1. He isnt’ denying anything.
          He is pointing our the duplicity in that everything Russia is accused of in Ukraine, the US and it’s allies did in Afghanistan and Iraq.

          Create phoney reason for invasion, invade, fail to do it right, start killing civilians, start torturing people, and then finally and hopefully for the sake of Ukraine: admit defeat and retreat.

          Why is Tony Blair free when he should be in prison for war crimes ?
          He literally lied about the reasons to go to war to invade another sovereign country – regardless of what you think of said country, they should have been protected by international law.

          And dont forget the US, Uk, France and Russia all had a treaty with Ukraine to protect it and where exactly are the boots on the ground ??

          But no, Russia-= bad m’kay.

          1. Two completely separate problems, the only reason to bring it up now is to muddy the waters and imply that what Russia is doing is completely ok and acceptable. Seriously this mentality is like a sibling rivalry when one kid gets into trouble and they try to throw their sibling under the bus to shift blame or legitimize what they did. “But tommy did this that was so much worse so don’t punish me for what I did …”

  5. The second, never completed fuselage (and most of the wings iirc) of a second AN-225 is or was in the hangar opposite the big arched cover. I wonder what the state of it is now. If they didn’t bomb that hanger there is hope we might see a “new” An-225 take flight at some point. If that one is also destroyed then I don’t think we’ll ever see a plane like it again. It was commercially viable to fly it because it already existed, but i don’t think it’d be viable to build one from scratch.

    1. With how very useful it has proven over its lifetime I think it probably would be viable to build something similar from scratch – as remember a new one would have the benefits of better technologies and aerodynamic simulation in its construction to be a more efficient and effective aircraft, which would make it more economically viable to fly.

      1. building something new and similar from scratch would be unbelievably expensive, finishing the second one was stopped because there just isn’t enough demand to justify the cost

        1. You forgot the final words of that sentence ‘while the first one was flying’ – when there is nothing in the world capable of doing the job quite the same way, and many times it would prove useful, there is enough demand for ONE of them I would suggest, maybe even two if built now with less fuel hungry engines etc.

          Giant airlift capacity of this sort will always have some use, not everything can be split down to transport in Hercules or jumbo jets…

  6. According to this CNN article, the partial AN-225 is in a large building in the western part of Kyiv and is about 70% complete. I’ve looked at the pictures of the remains of the Miriya and whether it is a complete loss may come down to what kind of damage the “spine” or wingbox sustained (leading to one of the wings falling off). The aft fuselage and tail look to be intact. If the forward part of the plane is mostly a regular AN-124 then maybe there’s hope of some day grafting a new forward section onto it. I think there are restored B-17’s that have come back from worse, just comes down to money/demand.

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