Heavy, diesel, advanced: MAZ trucks in the Soviet Army

It turned out to be not so easy to build a large car plant on an almost empty site and produce heavy vehicles with diesel engines without anybody’s knowledge, so the USSR government allocated Yaroslavl Automobile Plant (YAAZ) to help MAZ, which at first had to hand over kits of its vehicles for assembly in Minsk. That is how the first Belorussian bonneted “200” cargo family was born.

MAZ-200/205 family (1947/1951-1967)

The first trucks manufactured in Minsk by November 7, 1947, were short wheelbase dump trucks MAZ-205, which, in addition to the national economy, entered the engineering and construction battalions of the Soviet Army, where they were used in road construction, military facilities and structures.

In February 1951, the assembly of 110-horsepower seven-ton trucks MAZ-200 began, which differed from the Yaroslavl prototype YAZ-200 only by a vertical grille and a new bulk emblem in the form of chrome bison on the sides of the engine compartment.

The serial diesel truck MAZ-200 is the younger brother of the YAZ-200 vehicle. 1951

These machines were used mainly in the national economy, and in the Soviet army they were used to deliver military supplies or up to 20 people, as well as for towing guns weighing up to 9.5 tons.

MAZ-200 trucks with trailed anti-aircraft guns at the military parade in Kiev. 1958

In the mid 50’s, a small batch of medium artillery tractor MAZ-200G was produced with a wooden cargo platform with metal shackles and folding benches to calculate the towed gun, rear folding board, lattice tops and awning. In addition, it was accompanied by a standard two-axle trailer.

Special five-ton 110 hp army truck-tractor MAZ-200G. 1954
Tests of MAZ-200G vehicle in the clutch with MAZ-5207V six-ton trailer (archive 21 Research and Development Center).

The increased gear ratio of the main gear provided the machines with high tractive effort, but the speed was reduced to 52 km/h.

Great importance in those times was attached to testing and application of road trains with semitrailers, which could deliver increased volumes of goods in the absence of powerful engines in the country.

Paramilitary version of serial tractor MAZ-200V (photo by S.Andreyev). 1952

Such systems included the militarized tractor MAZ-200V with 135-horsepower diesel engine and two spare wheels behind the cab. It provided a fairly high load on the saddle (7.2 tons) and worked with standard semi-trailers with wooden bodies and four longitudinal benches for 52 people.

MAZ-200V truck tractor with 12-ton military semi-trailer MAZ-5215B. 1958 (archive of 21 research and development centers).

Military equipment on MAZ-200 chassis

In the middle of 50’s a simple fuel tank truck ÀÖ-8-200 with emptying the fuel by itself or by hand pumps was adopted for service. It was a simplified version of the military and airfield fuel tanker TZ-200 with a centrifugal pump and side cylindrical foams for sleeves, designed for the YAZ-200 chassis, but got a new cabin.

Multi-purpose fuel tanker TZ-200 on MAZ-200 chassis with rear control post. 1952 (photo by S.Andreyev).

Since 1951, on the chassis of the 200 series were installed multi-purpose mechanical five-ton truck cranes K-51 and military K-52M with diesel-electric drive of working elements. Six-ton truck cranes K-61 and K-64 served to reload rockets from transport vehicles to launchers of the Luna tracked complex.

Military truck crane K-52M with 380-volt generator and boom length of 7.5 meters.
Mechanical autocrane K-61 with seven-meter boom when reloading the rocket of “Luna” complex on a combat vehicle

Among other automotive equipment based on MAZ-200 was an original airfield heat engine ATM-200 with a jet engine for drying runways and taxiways. In the 60s, on a special chassis of MAZ-200Sh there was created a nitrogen production station ADS-50 with a special body of the car assembly plant “Drummer”, in two compartments of which technological and pumping and compressor equipment for cooling the atmospheric air and liquefied nitrogen production was placed.

The Ryazan Airborne Tube Museum exhibits a restored ADS-50 machine for preparation of nitric acid.

MAZ-501/502 (1955-1966) family.

In 1955, the first all-wheel drive civilian forest truck MAZ-501 with horses and rear gable wheels was presented. It worked in a clutch with a release trailer and was able to take 30-meter logs of wood out of the forest. The Ministry of Defense was interested in him and the next year organized tests of structurally identical truck tractor MAZ-501B in a clutch with a military semi-trailer.

At the tests the road train consisting of MAZ-501V tractor and MAZ-5245B military semi-trailer. 1956 (archive of 21 research and development centers).

In 1957 the small-scale production of four-ton cargo cross-country vehicles MAZ-502 with low-beam metal bodies with folding benches for transportation of 16-18 soldiers and 502A version with a winch was started. This range was supplemented by a truck tractor 502V.

All-wheel drive truck-tractor MAZ-502 with all single wheels and tires of size 15.00-20. 1957
Army vehicle MAZ-502A with 4.5 m wheelbase and a front six-ton winch.

The machines were equipped with a two-stroke 130 hp diesel engine, pneumatic power steering and the main revolutionary finding of its time – a two-stage transfer case with an asymmetrical interaxial lockable differential, which transmitted to the rear axle 2/3 of total torque.

All 502 series vehicles were delivered to Soviet missile and air defense units and in small quantities were sent to armies of friendly countries. In general, the application of on-board and off-road all-terrain vehicles was reduced to the use of mobile transport, charging and transshipment systems for delivery and rearrangement of missiles or their parts to the charging devices that were part of various missile systems.

MAZ-502B truck tractor with installation of PR-41A of air defense missile system “Dal”. 1961
MAZ-502B tractor with a transport semitrailer of the Angara anti-aircraft missile system. 1962

MAZ-500 family (1963-1977).

During the period of peaceful development of the Soviet country with “deepening stagnation in the economy”, the production of new military vehicles decreased significantly. In the field of Belarusian army trucks of the second generation, it was called tank-vans.

The development of the bonneted model MAZ-502 was an experienced army five-ton truck tractor MAZ-505 with a cab over the engine, capable of towing trailers or artillery guns with a gross weight of up to 12 tons. It was unified with the new timber truck MAZ-509B and retained the legendary asymmetric differential, but never left the testing stage.

Experienced cabover five-ton military truck-tractor MAZ-505. 1962
MAZ-505 truck with two-axle 8.5-ton MAZ-886 trailer.

Since March 1963, the single base of civil and military vehicles was an overtype rear-wheel drive truck MAZ-500 with 180 hp V6 diesel engine. In the 70th, the upgraded model received a new radiator cladding and index 500A. The attempt to launch into production the MAZ-500G transport truck-tractor, adapted for transportation of personnel and towing trailers, never came out of the experimental stage.

Experimental militarized long wheelbase truck MAZ-500G with trailer and all-metal bodies

For installation of military superstructures on MAZ-500/500A trucks special chassis 500Sh and 500Ash were produced, on which sealed bodies-vans K-500 and K-500A of reinforced foam with life support systems and light apertures in the sides and sloping roof bevels were based respectively.

MAZ-500Sh chassis car with an inhabited army body K-500. 1969

In the mid-70s, they were added to the more robust frame-metal structures KM-500 with several light windows on the bevels of the roof and blind sides, usually served for the deployment of field workshops.

MAZ-500Ash chassis with steel army body KM-500 equipped with a turning and milling workshop. 1976 (archive of 21 research and development centers).

The second important military direction on the base of 500 series was almost the same simple tank trucks AC-8-500/500A with the capacity of 8000 liters of fuel without its own pumping equipment and refueling control system.

Multipurpose simplified tank truck ÀÖ-8-500 on MAZ-500A chassis. 1977

In the 60s on the same chassis were produced airfield fuel tankers TZA-500 with a welded elliptical tank capacity of 7000 liters, a centrifugal pump driven by the transmission of the chassis, the rear control cabin and transfer hoses. Since 1972 upgraded version of TZA-500A with increased up to 7.5 thousand liters of fuel and more efficient pump went into production.

Aerodrome refueler TZA-500 on MAZ-500 chassis with a rear control cabin. 1969
Upgraded TZA-500A refueler based on MAZ-500A when refueling Yak-40 aircraft. 1972

MAZ-5335/5334 family (1977-1990)

In the third generation of military MAZs, the new base truck was an eight-ton MAZ-5335, which differed only by a new front mask and entered the army in a modified form with a metal cargo platform, longitudinal side benches in the body and headlights.

Multi-purpose chassis MAZ-5334 served as a basis for previous and new versions of vans and tank trucks. Typical KM-500 bodies with increased roof location were still installed on them, which accommodated equipment of various field workshops, including a workshop for the manufacture of rubber products.

Army tankers and fuel tankers of this period did not change significantly, and only the car ATS-8-5334 received a self-priming centrifugal pump.

In 1988 the last in this lineup was a fueling tank truck AC-9-5337 on a new chassis MAZ-5337 with a capacity of nine thousand liters of fuel for simultaneous filling of two consumers.

The title photo shows the TZA-500A airfield refueler on the MAZ-500A chassis against the background of the new Tu-134A jet plane.

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