Experienced triaxial LuAZ-976M. Photo: denisovets.ru
In the first part of the material (“Mechanical mules. Conveyors of the front edge of the Soviet Army) it was a question of moving the center for the development of future medical amphibians from US to Zaporozhye. Then at the Kommunar plant two prototypes ZAZ-967 were created, which retained their external resemblance to the NAMI-032M concept. In order to save money, the car was unified with the civil ZAZ-965 - the four-speed gearbox, clutch and main gear were common. A completely new unit was the forced locking of the rear cross-axle differential. In 1961-1962, both experimental vehicles passed a cycle of factory tests, the results of which military doctors were satisfied with. ZAZ-967 was able to transport three people, two of whom were seated / lying on each side of the driver’s central position. The main task (searching for the wounded on the battlefield) was carried out by the front-line transporter several times faster and more efficiently than porters. The wounded could be transported to ZAZ-967 in three versions: on two longitudinally stretched stretchers located on top of the sides and rear wheel arches, on the floor of the car on a special coating and, finally, on the seats near the driver. Not the most picky factory tests showed that the conveyor could only reduce the curb weight and strengthen the traction winch.
LuAZ-967M. Photo: autowp.ru
After eliminating these comments, five experienced transporters entered state trials, prudently acquiring windshields in front of this. Initially, the military department did not provide this option in the development order. In September-October 1962, ZAZ-967 had to go several thousand kilometers in the Karakum, the Pamirs, the Caucasus and the Crimea. One can only sympathize with the work of the testers - in addition to the windshield, no additional amenities were provided in the car. The awning appeared later and was a panel covering the driver and passengers from precipitation from above and behind. From all other sides, the wind walked through the amphibian quite freely. The machine passed the tests with great conventions (there were problems in the reliability of individual units), but, nevertheless, it was recommended for production at the Kommunar plant. But, as has already happened several times with military developments, there were no capacities for assembling amphibians at the enterprise.
The civilian "analogue" of the front edge conveyor is the pre-production ZAZ-969. Photo: denisovets.ru
Zaporizhzhya plant was allocated two years to prepare for the production of the conveyor, during which the car was improved, and several civilian brothers ZAZ-969 were also built. These SUVs differed from the military ancestors by the normal location of the steering wheel, pedals, the presence of an awning and a windshield. The whole company in 1965 was sent to another test run in the Pamirs and Karakum. And again, reliability problems plagued the four-wheel drive kids throughout the test cycle. The steering and transmission units were primarily affected. The MeMZ-967 motor, which was previously equipped with a speed limiter, produced insufficient power and worked intermittently. The limiter was removed from the carburetor - this allowed to disperse the engine from 22 to 27 liters. from. In this version, the four-wheel drive amphibian accelerated to 71 km / h, while afloat using wheel rotation it gained a maximum of 3 km / h, spending about 12 liters per 100 km in the combined cycle.
LuAZ-967, which never got on the conveyor. Photo: autowp.ru
One of the first production TPK LuAZ-967M. Photo: autowp.ru
In total, several “generations” of front-line conveyors ZAZ-967 were assembled, none of which became serial. The first series (1962-1965) can be distinguished by two silencers located on the sides of the hood, as well as the upper casing of the engine intake. The second series (1964-1965) is easiest to identify by the muffler located in front of the hood and the narrowed front of the car. The last pre-production ZAZ-967, which were created in 1966-1967, were as close as possible to the usual LuAZ-967. In cars of this "generation" the engine has already developed 30 liters. s., and the transmission had serious improvements. Crosses from the GAZ-69 appeared in the semiaxes, the gear ratios of the main gears increased, the wheels became slightly larger, and the rear axle drive shaft was equipped with an intermediate support.
In the second half of 1967, the car went through the entire cycle of the third already in a row of tests and was recommended for adoption. By the way, the head of the state commission was Boris Fitterman, who laid the conceptual foundations in the car, but was never able to bring the medical conveyor to the conveyor. In Zaporozhye, by that time, the situation with the production site had not moved forward; factory workers had difficulty mastering the civilian range of small cars. Therefore, the Lutsk Engineering Plant (LuMZ) was supposed to take the military SUV and its “peaceful” analogue ZAZ-969. In December 1967, the inexplicable name LuMZ was changed to LuAZ - Lutsk Automobile Plant, and the first-born of the renewed enterprise were LuAZ-967 and LuAZ-969.
Long way to the army
On paper, the LuAZ-967 has been produced in Lutsk since 1967, but the troops hardly knew about it - 11 experienced transporters only managed to collect complaints and rationalization proposals from army technicians. As soon as the car was prepared for the conveyor (this happened in 1969), the military wished a new engine - a 1,2-liter MeMZ-968 from Zaporozhets, developing 27 liters. from. The engine was mounted, equipped with an additional oil cooler, pre-start device 5PP-40A, the gear ratios of the wheel gearboxes were reduced from 1,785 to 1,294, and the body received cosmetic improvements. All this dragged on the process until 1972, when four LuAZ-967 with the letter M. were rolled out for testing for the second time, and after three whole years they were put on the conveyor. And the car with the base name LuAZ-967 did not see the serial embodiment. However, an amphibian experimentally installed the AGS-17M Flame grenade launcher, ATGM and recoilless gun. All mobile firing points remained in the status of experienced ones - the military was not happy with the low weapons amphibious loading capacity. And there was no protection — the only “armor” that could at least protect against fragments at the end was two gangways mounted on the sides of the amphibian.
Front edge conveyor in an atypical weapon carrier role. Photo: kolesa.ru
And here the machine is used for its intended purpose. Photo: kolesa.ru
During the entire production cycle, the front edge conveyor was updated three times. First, he was prescribed a standardized head lighting that allows you to appear on public roads - this metamorphosis happened in 1978. Three years later, the second version of the medical amphibian appeared, devoid of a folding tailgate and equipped with the Baby pump. These measures have improved the buoyancy of the conveyor, as well as survivability on the water. Later, in the third generation LuAZ-967, the "Baby" was removed, returning to its place the previous unit. In addition, the amphibian was equipped with a 39-liter high-speed engine. pp., updated the wheel gearboxes, shock absorbers and finalized the seal assemblies.
LuAZ-969MP - a rare version for the headquarters and patrol work. Photo: denisovets.ru
LuAZ-967M. Photo: denisovets.ru
The main function of the LuAZ-969M in the troops was, of course, providing mobility for the evacuation of the wounded from the battlefield, but there was also a modification adapted for patrolling and staff work. This option was named LuAZ-969MP and was distinguished by a front bumper, a much more comfortable tent, as well as the absence of gangways and a winch in the configuration. In total, up to the final for transporters of all modifications of 1991 in Lutsk they managed to assemble about 20 thousand cars, some of which are now being gradually withdrawn from conservation for sale.
Three axes of "Geologist"
Further modernization of the front-line conveyor was the expansion of its functionality - in the classical sense, the LuAZ-969M was no longer suitable for the military. It was possible to realize this only through an increase in carrying capacity, and the amphibian mass in full condition already exceeded one ton. Therefore, the natural solution was to install an additional third axis, which was also controllable. Such a triaxial LuAZ was first tested in 1984 at test site 21 of the research institute and received a list of serious improvements. Among the layout solutions at LuAZ, a semblance of a driver’s cab appeared, fenced off from passengers by a tubular arc. By the way, the new transporter could now take ten fighters at once, or carry large-caliber machine guns, automatic grenade launchers, anti-tank systems, or even Igla MANPADS.
Three-axis LuAZ poses in front of the camera. Photo: denisovets.ru
LuAZ-1901, known as "Geologist" in "citizen", did not become a replacement for LuAZ-967M. Photo: denisovets.ru
In general, a new and interesting combat unit was being prepared for the army, which medical functions were not decisive. However, it was not possible to adapt the complex transmission to the third drive axle and in the early 80s decided to create a new small-sized floating machine with three axles. The novelty was named LuAZ-1901 and did not resemble its ancestor, except for the lack of a hard top. The total weight was almost twice as much - 1900 kg, and the carrying capacity reached 650 kg. The motor was now located at the rear, which freed up a lot of space on the front axle. The cargo platform increased and allowed to place four stretchers with one orderly. Finally, the combat vehicle received a tarpaulin awning, covering people from rainfall from all sides. The seaworthiness of LuAZ-1901 was higher than its predecessor - amphibian on water accelerated due to the rotation of six wheels to 5 km / h. It is noteworthy that such a large machine was not equipped with a more powerful engine - just as the 37-strong MeMZ-967B was, it remained. But on the civilian version ("Geologist"), which were born already in the days of independent Ukraine, there was a Kharkov diesel engine 3DTN with a capacity of 51 liters. from. After a long search for a sales market, LuAZ Geolog last appeared in public in 1999, and a couple of years later the Lutsk plant stopped producing cars of its own design. Over time, another manufacturer of military equipment in the post-Soviet space turned out to be bankrupt.