I know the reason why it has negative dihedral wings, but I do not really know why it is combined with a positive dihedral horizontal stabilzer, which are the benefits this configuration provides?

Antonov AN-225 front view

  • $\begingroup$ The reason the AN-225 has anhedral wings is explained here: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/6285/… And the reason the horizontal stabilizer angle is different to the wings' angle is probably covered by this question: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/36810/… (i.e. to keep the tail surfaces away from the wing wake) $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2019 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ @DaveGremlin: Thanks for pointing out that this is almost a dupe. The tail dihedral is most likely also to move the two vertical surfaces up while keeping the attachment point close to the center in order to reduce tail bending moments. Note that the AN-124 tail has no dihedral and sits at the same height. $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2019 at 20:35

2 Answers 2


The reason for the wing anhedral has been answered here long ago.

Tail anhedral or dihedral can have several reasons:

  • To avoid ground contact during rotation (when the aircraft pitches up in order to lift off the ground). This is needed with a swept tail, so tail dihedral can be found on many airliners. Clearly, the An-225 tail has ample distance to the ground, because the vertical tail surfaces extend for ⅓ of their span below the horizontal tail, so any ground contact can be ruled out even for an un-dihedraled tail.
  • To move the horizontal tail away from the wing wake. When you look at the tail of the An-124, you will see no dihedral and a mounting point quite similar to that of the An-225. But if the An-124 has no problem with an un-dihedraled tail, so should the An-225. This can also not be the reason.
  • To add some more vertical tail surface. This trick has been employed on the Handley-Page Victor or the F-4 Phantom II. On the An-225, the outer verticals would shield much of the horizontal tail and little additional side force will be created by the dihedraled horizontal tail. So this cannot be the reason, either.
  • For a H-tail: To move the attachment point of the vertical surfaces closer to their middle. Imagine the An-225 horizontal tail had no dihedral: Then the verticals would need to be mounted on the tips of the horizontal near their bottom (they need to be so high up in order to allow the An-225 to rotate, after all). This would mean that all side loads would act above the attachment point, producing a sizeable bending moment which has to be carried along the spar of the horizontal tail, making the outer tail structure a lot heavier. With a little dihedral, the attachment point can be moved further up, close to the middle, so the bending moments in the vertical and horizontal tails can be a lot lower.

Antonov has designed H-tails before (on the An-14, the An-22 Antei, the An-28 and the An-38), and in all cases the vertical had a sizeable part of its surface below the horizontal tail. The only design on this list which also had some tail dihedral is the An-14 from 1958, and here the attachment point is almost in the center of the vertical. So it looks like the Antonov design bureau applied a trick on the An-225 which they had known for at least 30 years before the An-225 took off for the first time.


Anhedral is used on high wing swept wing aircraft because the dihedral effect of the sweep PLUS the aerodynamic dihedral effect of the T wing-to-fuselage interface adds up to too much total dihedral effect. The roll/yaw couple (rolling moment created by yaw) becomes much too strong. The anhedral brings the total dihedral effect down to a desirable level.

The dihedral of the horizontal tail can be done for two reasons; ground clearance for the vertical tail surfaces, and the effective side area presented by the canted surfaces can be considered to be adding to the vertical fin area (a V tail takes this to the ultimate extreme).

In the case of the Antonov I will bet that the tail is like that mostly to provide a little extra vertical clearance for ground vehicles.

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    $\begingroup$ … and for rotation. $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2019 at 20:37
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    $\begingroup$ I'll bet that the original design was straight, and can imagine the design merry-go-round that must've gone on - Problem; Horiz tail straight, but vert fins too close to ground - solution; move them up so the semi-T is now an L. Ooops, bending loads at base of fins increased, now we have to reinforce that intersection, more weight. Then some bright light in the room said "why don't we just crank the stab spar a few degrees. Having the rudders canted is no big deal. Problem solved." Someone probably got a Hero Of The Soviet Union award for that. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Jan 5, 2019 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ I think that line of thought had already been completed at Antonov when the An-14 was designed. $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2019 at 21:27

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