Military Review

Experimental search and evacuation unit PEU-2

In the mid-sixties, the Special Design Bureau of the Plant. I.A. Likhachev received an order to create a promising all-terrain vehicle capable of searching and evacuating the landed astronauts. The first result of such an order was the search and evacuation unit PES-1, which was soon accepted for supply and put into small-scale production. With a number of characteristic advantages, such a machine was not without flaws. An analysis of its real capabilities has led to the launch of a new development of new special all-terrain vehicles. One of them was developed under the name PES-2.

In accordance with the wishes of the customer, the PED-1 all-terrain vehicle was an ultra-high-wheel drive platform equipped with a crane installation and a cradle for the descent vehicle. The astronauts found were proposed to be transported in the cockpit of the vehicle, and their spaceship on a special cargo platform. Until a certain time, such opportunities were sufficient, but the development of astronautics continued, and the existing technology did not fully meet the requirements.

ATV PES-2 in the museum. Photos of the State Military Technical Museum /

The appearance of three-seater spacecraft, as well as an increase in the astronauts' work time in orbit, reduced the real capabilities of PES-1. To assist the crew returning to Earth, they now needed a team of rescuers and doctors. The existing four-seater all-terrain vehicle cabin, by definition, could not accommodate all the rescuers and astronauts. Search and rescue units in the very near future could need a completely new special machine with increased load parameters and an enlarged cabin.

Not later than 1969 of the year, the ZIL Special Design Bureau under the direction of V.A. Gracheva set about creating a new search and evacuation unit with the required capabilities. The main idea of ​​the second project in this area was to expand the list of tasks for a special machine. The all-terrain vehicle had to retain the possibility of transporting the descent vehicle, but it was proposed to equip it with a full-fledged passenger cabin for astronauts and rescuers.

The project received two designations. The first pointed to the purpose of the machine and its ordinal number in the line - PES-2. There was also the name ZIL-5901, which corresponded to the recently adopted car classification system. It showed that the all-terrain vehicle was developed by the Plant. Likhachev, belongs to the category of special transport and has a total mass of more than 14 t. The last two numbers showed that it was the first project of this kind after the introduction of new designations.

View of the stern. Photos of the State Military Technical Museum /

The PES-2 project was faced with unusual tasks, which, however, did not require special solutions. Most of the systems and assemblies have already been tested in the framework of various pilot projects. Therefore, it was possible to do with borrowing the necessary products and using ready-made solutions. At the same time, the all-terrain vehicle should have been noticeably different from a number of existing cars. The need to organize a passenger cabin and means of transportation of the descent vehicle should have led to a significant increase in the size of the car. As a result, PES-2 could not be transported. aviation.

The ZIL-5901 project proposed the construction of a relatively large three-axle wheeled all-terrain vehicle with a full set of equipment for the simultaneous evacuation of people and space technology. To simplify the construction and operation it was proposed to widely use ready-made units. In addition, it was planned to apply a number of proven developments. In particular, the power plant and transmission were once again organized by the so-called. onboard circuit.

A new building was developed using some existing designs. It was based on a large welded aluminum frame, on which all components and assemblies should be mounted. In the central part, under the cargo platform, the frame was strengthened in accordance with the design loads. On top of the frame it was proposed to install parts of a fiberglass outer casing. The latter was supposed to provide buoyancy, as well as create the necessary closed volumes for people and aggregates.

PES-2 in comparison with the passenger "Volga". Photo

In accordance with the developments in previous pilot projects, it was proposed to use a case with an inclined frontal sheet reinforced with several longitudinal projections of different sizes. This detail smoothly mated with vertical sides, in which there were large wheel arches. The stern was made in the form of an inclined part, through a rounded section connected with the bottom.

The upper part of the case was made in the form of two separate elements. A larger front with sloping forehead and sides was a cap of the cockpit and volume for passengers. Rear casing of similar shape, but smaller sizes covered the engine compartment. Between the cabins and the engine compartment, there was a payload area covered by an awning.

Due to the large size and weight, the new all-terrain vehicle needed a powerful power plant. From the previous experimental project ZIL-E167 a system was borrowed based on a pair of petrol engines ZIL-375 with the power of 180 hp. The engines were placed in the aft compartment and connected to their own torque converters, each of which was associated with its automatic transmission. In the ZIL-5901 / PES-2 project, it was again proposed to use an onboard power distribution scheme, and therefore each of the engines was associated only with the wheels of its own side.

All-terrain vehicle overcomes an obstacle. Photo

In connection with the increased loads, new gearboxes borrowed from the experienced LAZ-695ZH bus were used. The gearbox through the propeller shaft was connected to the transfer case box. From the last shaft departed, transmitting power to the airborne transmission of the conical type. Also in the transmission provided for drives for a feed jet propulsion, electric generator and hydraulic system pumps. The transmission and chassis included several disc brakes.

The design of the undercarriage for the PES-2, in general, was based on existing developments. A three-axle chassis with independent front and rear wheel suspension was used. The wheels were mounted on transverse levers connected to longitudinal torsions. The first and third axes also received controls. The wheels of the middle axle had a stiffer suspension and were mounted on the frame using relatively simple devices. Wheels with a diameter of more than 1,5 m were also borrowed from the previous project. As it was confirmed in practice, they allowed us to obtain the highest throughput in deep snow.

In the aft part of the hull there was a water jet that markedly increased the general mobility indicators. The water cannon intake window was in the bottom. The feed part niche had a round nozzle in which the propeller was placed. Flow control was carried out using a pair of vertical rudders.

Cross-country movement. Photo

Slightly more than a third of the entire length of the machine occupied a large habitable compartment that could accommodate the cockpit and passenger cabin. The compartment received a developed glazing and a set of hatches. The main means of landing was a rectangular door at the back of the starboard. There were also several roof hatches. In front of the habitable compartment were placed the jobs of the driver and other crew members. The driver had a full set of controls. To search for astronauts by beacon signals, it was proposed to use the appropriate equipment. Other volumes were given for accommodation of passengers and various equipment.

Search and evacuation unit of the new model had to work in a variety of climatic conditions, and therefore was equipped with a variety of equipment. The car received air conditioning from the limousine ZIL-114, as well as six heaters from other serial equipment. In case of a long stay in a remote area, the all-terrain vehicle was equipped with a wood-burning stove and a gas stove. All this made it possible not only to save astronauts, but also to expect outside help in case of known difficulties.

A variety of products were transported in various boxes and cargo compartments to solve various tasks during the rescue and evacuation of astronauts. The crew had several radio stations, a gas-electric unit, a chainsaw and other entrenching tools, an inflatable boat and belt for the descent vehicle, a diving suit, winter clothing, medical equipment, etc.

PES-2 with a payload on the platform rises ashore. Photo

As conceived by the designers, the PES-2 all-terrain vehicle was supposed to transport not only people, but also a descent vehicle. To do this, behind the passenger cabin provided for a cargo area of ​​sufficient size. Directly on the site it was planned to install lodgements for the placement of devices of different types. As before, the descent vehicle was proposed to be fixed in place with a ring and a set of lines.

On the left side of the cargo area there were two U-shaped boom supports for working with descent vehicles. In the stowed position, the boom was placed on the platform by turning it to the right, and for work it rose and turned at the expense of hydraulic cylinders. The design of such a crane allowed the machine to drive up to the device from the side, pick it up and lift it on board. Whether the all-terrain vehicle could use a crane on the water is unknown. Probably, when landing cosmonauts on water, the descent capsule first had to be towed to the shore, and only after that to be lifted to the cargo area.

The proposal to combine cargo and passenger functions has resulted in outstanding dimensions. The length of the machine PES-2 reached 11,67 m with a width of 3,275 m and a height slightly higher than 3 m. The wheelbase was equal to 6,3 m; the gaps between the axes were equal - by 3,15 m. The track reached 2,5 m, the ground clearance - 720 mm. The curb weight of the car reached 16,14 t. The payload was 3 t, and on board it was possible to take both the spacecraft and its crew together with a team of rescuers. A large cabin allowed to transport up to 10 people.

Loading weight and space layout of the spacecraft. Photo

Due to its large size and increased mass, the ZIL-5901 / PES-2 all-terrain vehicle could not be carried by existing military transport aircraft and helicopters. Moving along the roads was also associated with certain difficulties. Because of the outstanding dimensions in all senses, such a machine, going onto public roads, needed special permission from the traffic police and escort. Having obtained the necessary documents, the all-terrain vehicle could show very high characteristics on the highway. Its maximum speed reached 73 km / h - no worse than the other samples of this class. On the water, it was planned to get the speed up to 8-9 km / h.

The construction of the prototype PES-2 was completed in April 1970. The work was completed by the centenary of the birth of V.I. Lenin. Soon, the finished prototype was put to the test, during which it was planned to test its capabilities on all possible routes and in various conditions that simulate the features of future work in search and rescue structures.

ZIL-5901 expectedly showed high performance on good roads. Despite the difficulties of an organizational nature, the all-terrain vehicle traveled without any problems on the highway, including carrying a payload. For obvious reasons, the test of equipment on rough terrain was of much greater interest. Like previous ATVs, the experienced PES-2 was sent to the most difficult terrain. Inspections were carried out on dry and muddy roads, on swampy areas, on virgin snow, etc. Also tests were performed on the water, which included both direct swimming and descent into the reservoir and ascent back to the shore. However, it was not without problems. After testing on the pond near Lytkarino, the repair of the water jet transmission was needed.

Experimental search and evacuation unit PEU-2
"Lander" on board. Photo

The new car showed itself well, and according to its characteristics it was at least as good as other equipment of its class. Without any problems, the amphibious all-terrain vehicle could get to a given point on the most difficult landscapes, pick up astronauts and their descent vehicle, and then return to the starting point. Launching and ascent to the beach, regardless of the presence or absence of the spacecraft, occurred without any problems. The cabins provided sufficient comfort for the crew and lifeguards.

In general, the search and evacuation unit PES-2 in all its characteristics was not inferior to the existing system PES-1. Moreover, it had notable advantages in the context of real use. Unlike its predecessor, the new model could take on board a rescue team. The reception of astronauts did not worsen the living conditions in the cockpit. At the same time, both people and space vehicles were taken out for one flight. For all these points, the existing PED-1 all-terrain vehicle lost to the newer ZIL-5901.

SKB ZIL provided a ready-made sample and accompanying documentation to the command of the air forces responsible for conducting search operations, as well as representatives of the space industry. The technical aspects of the project were approved, but some of its features were criticized and the most negative impact on the fate of the machine. The potential customer considered that the main plus of the new technology leads to the appearance of a serious minus, due to which PES-2 is inappropriate to be taken for supply.

Rover, its creators and testers. In the cockpit - B.I. Grigoriev; stand (from left to right): E.F. Burmistrov, N.A. Bolshakov, I.I. Salnikov, V.B. Lavrentiev, V.A. Grachev, O.A. Leonov, N.I. Gerasimov, V.O. Khabarov, A.V. Lavrentiev, A.V. Borisov, P.M. Prokopenko, V. Malyushkin. Photo

The main advantage of the new project was the simultaneous presence of a large passenger compartment and a cargo area with a crane. However, together with such equipment, the promising machine received large dimensions and weight, which excluded its transportation by air using existing or prospective military transport aircraft. In this respect, not the most advanced installation of PES-1 had undoubted advantages. The impossibility of airborne transport could seriously hinder the operation of PES-2, as well as worsen its potential in search and rescue operations.

Despite a number of important advantages, an overly large and heavy sample of special equipment was not accepted for supply. However, the rejection of the machine PES-2 did not hit the further development of special equipment for space and even contributed to the emergence of new projects. Taking into account the data on ZIL-5901, the specialists corrected the existing concept of the search and evacuation complex. Now, the astronauts should have been helped by two special machines at once. The first of them was proposed to be equipped with a crane and a lodgment for the descent vehicle, and the second was to be equipped with a spacious cabin for rescuers and astronauts.

Already in 1972, such a proposal was implemented in practice. On the basis of the existing amphibian PES-1 with a crane and a cradle built passenger PES-1M. Over the next few years, two samples with the nickname "Crane" and "Salon" ensured the return of astronauts home. Subsequently, new projects of special equipment were created, and this time it was again about several machines with different equipment and different roles. Universal rescue all-terrain vehicles were no longer created.

In this form, the PES-2 was waiting for the restoration. Photo

After completion of the tests, the only prototype prototype of the PES-2 all-terrain vehicle built was returned to the Zaporozhye Plant Likhachev. For a long time, a unique car stood on one of the sites of the enterprise, without any prospects. Storage in the open is not the best way affected the state of technology. This all-terrain vehicle just a few years ago, like many other samples of special vehicles developed at SKB ZIL, was a sad sight.

However, in the recent past, the search and evacuation vehicle ZIL-5901 was repaired and restored. Now it is kept in the State Military Technical Museum (Ivanovo village, Moscow region). The most interesting sample of ground-based equipment for the space program is exhibited along with many other experienced and serial all-terrain vehicles of the ZIL brand.

It often happens that the most interesting sample of equipment shows the highest characteristics and possesses ample opportunities, but any of the characteristic features closes its path to exploitation. That is what happened with the search and rescue all-terrain vehicle PES-2 / ZIL-5901. With all its advantages, this machine had insufficient “strategic mobility” and therefore was not of particular interest to the customer. However, the failure of this project did not prevent the space program of the Soviet Union. With it, the concept of the further development of search and evacuation complexes was formed.

On the materials of the sites:
Kochnev E.D. Secret cars of the Soviet Army. - M .: Yauza, Eksmo, 2011.
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  1. Cat
    Cat 11 March 2018 07: 08
    Thank you for the article!
    I was especially pleased that the prototype was not sawn, broken, or dumped. And saved. God forbid, there will be time, we need to look into the museum, I think that there are not a few such "highlights"!
  2. emwave
    emwave 11 March 2018 12: 59
    Thing! The size was impressive - in the Ministry of Emergencies it is necessary, soon the ice will begin to melt.
    1. san4es
      san4es 11 March 2018 15: 35
      Quote: emwave
      Thing! The size was impressive - in the Ministry of Emergencies it is necessary, soon the ice will begin to melt.
  3. faiver
    faiver 11 March 2018 13: 11
    everything is not bad, but the arguments regarding non-transportability are somehow not very good - it should fit in the an-22, it also fits in the mi-12 / in-12, but it could also drag it on the MI-10 suspension ...
  4. san4es
    san4es 11 March 2018 15: 32
    Subsequently, new projects of special equipment were created.

    Tests of the all-terrain vehicle PEU-1R with a jet engine belay manufactured in SKB of ZIL plant
    1. Cat
      Cat 11 March 2018 21: 23
      PEU-1P appeared earlier than the described sample! A good article on jet zile was about a week ago.