Antonov An-14SH: Little Bumblebee.

The lovely Pchelka (Little Bee) was conceived in the mid-1950s to replace the An-2. First flown in 1958, this neat design emerged as a easy to fly and handy little aircraft, but despite those qualities it failed as a replacement for the rugged biplane. The numbers said it all, just a few more than 300 were produced against the around 18,000 An-2s. The potential of the An-14 airframe was undeniable though and it later evolved into the turboprop An-28 and its PZL Mielev variants.

This monstrosity was Antonov OKB’s second attempt to equip their An-14 with an air cushion landing gear. The company played with it during the early 1980s and it flew quite nicely, but the air cushion shirt was never retracted before the project was cancelled in 1986. Note the TA-6A-1 APU exhaust on the middle of the fuselage; that gas turbine provided air for the cushion.

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