Military Review

Frost-resistant: equipment for the Far North


Bad American experience with Snow Cruiser transport. Source:

Battlefield - Arctic

European countries already habitually consider the Far North to be a zone of their own interests. The term "European Arctic" has even been coined for this territory, which means the territory from Greenland in the west to the Norwegian-Russian border in the Barents Sea in the east. There are also such strategically important areas as Greenland-Iceland-Great Britain and Svalbard. And all would be fine, but Russia, a permanent member of the Arctic Council, and China, an observer in the council since 2013, completely disagree with this interpretation of the situation.


The special entourage of the arctic stories gives global warming, expanding the "zone of access" to the riches of the region. Given the serious concern of the world community about the rate of temperature rise, sometimes turning into hysteria, the Arctic in general in the future may be densely populated. Experts predict unbearable heat waves in India and Southeast Asia in the coming decades, which will cause massive population migration. By that time, the Arctic may become a cool oasis, the fight over which will be serious. The states that have now managed to carve up the "northern pie" can count on significant dividends in the future. However, the problems of the Far North still need to be dealt with. One of the main ones is the very difficult terrain, which actually prohibits entry into the Arctic for traditional transport. It is impossible to build roads in arctic conditions, at least at the present time. Permafrost is gradually receding, but weak-bearing soils remain, turning into mud in the off-season. Any road, rail or road, causes tremendous damage to the environment and costs prohibitively. Interestingly, the solution to this problem in the Russian departments was seen in the construction of a large-scale network of maglev trains. The logic is clear - in permafrost it is much easier to put single supports under a magnetic monorail than to plow half of the tundra under a railway embankment. In addition, a train hovering on a magnetic levitation does not exert much pressure on the supports. It remains only to develop the appropriate technologies and find funding for this, of course, fantastic project for the development of the Artik. Let's descend from heaven to earth and evaluate the arsenal of vehicles currently available.

Wheels of cold

From a historical point of view, Russia has just a gigantic experience in the construction of Arctic transport. It all began with a slight delay in the post-war years, when the famous Special Design Bureau (SKB) under the leadership of Vitaly Grachev was opened at the Moscow ZIL. Cars were not originally built directly for the Arctic - there was a chronic shortage of roads in the snowy expanses of the Soviet Union. That is why, since the beginning of the 50s, SKB engineers have relied on ultra-wide wheels with minimal pressure on the underlying surface. On the one hand, this allowed the car not to completely sink into snow and mud, and on the other hand, it increased the contact area of ​​the tire with the surface, which significantly improved cross-country ability. Grachev's team built many prototypes, but nothing serial, except for the ZIL-135 rocket carrier and the ZIL-49061 "Blue Bird" space rescuers, never appeared. The country's leadership at that time was skeptical about the development of the North by wheeled vehicles, after all, there were many undeveloped territories in the rest of the Union. And the military was quite satisfied with tracked vehicles and air transportation. A little later, NAMI joined the development of snow and swamp-going vehicles, in many ways creatively rethinking foreign experience (for example, the eight-roll NAMI-094), but nothing serial did not appear here either. Nevertheless, in the course of the R&D on "Arctic" topics, considerable theoretical and practical material has accumulated, which in the future has become the basis for new developments.

Experienced NAMI-094, which never became serial. Source:

Abroad, they also did not ignore the topic of cars for the Far North. Development started earlier than in the USSR, largely due to the higher technological culture. In the 30s, the Soviet Union was forced to adopt experience and learn rather than take the initiative. The most significant project of a snow and swamp-going vehicle of the pre-war period was the American Snow Cruiser of the 1939 model, which was being prepared for the Far South. Researcher Richard Byrd was supposed to go on a 34-ton giant on an Antarctic expedition. Byrd himself had already used self-propelled vehicles in his expeditions, but these were half-track Ford converted from civilian trucks. The main disadvantage of the technology was its low autonomy, which did not allow moving away from the Antarctic station at any significant distance. After 1935, American polar explorers formulated requirements for an autonomous "northern" vehicle, from which the Snow Cruiser grew. The car rested on the ground with four hefty pneumatics and was supposed to literally travel around Antarctica.

Immobilized by Antarctica Snow Cruiser. Source:

The story of the Snow Cruiser began very positively. Source:

Since 1958, nothing has been known about the location of the Snow Cruiser. Source:

The crew of the "Snow Cruiser" consisted of five people, who were provided with a wardroom, a five-seater inhabited compartment, a galley with a sink and a four-burner stove, a workshop with welding equipment, a photographic laboratory, as well as a warehouse for equipment and provisions. For greater independence, the car was equipped with an airplane on the roof, as well as a tank for almost 9,5 thousand liters of diesel fuel. According to the calculations of the authors of the project, the supply of fuel and provisions in the Snow Cruiser allowed polar explorers to live without external contacts for up to a year. The highlight of the 16-meter monster was the electric transmission - each wheel was driven by an electric motor, which, in turn, was powered by two diesels. On a flat road, the car could develop up to 48 km / h. The unusual appearance of the vehicle with impressive overhangs was explained by the specifics of overcoming ice cracks. By design, the overhangs were used as skis, which the Snow Cruiser leaned on to overcome deep obstacles. Therefore, the body turned out to be very long. There is a directly proportional relationship - the longer the length of the car, the wider cracks it is able to overcome. It is not known whether the developers carried out large-scale tests or not, but the debut of the "Snow Cruiser" was sad. The car went under its own power no more than 150 km (albeit in reverse), and then finally got bogged down in the snow near the Little America station. Nobody was going to evacuate the heavyweight to the continent, and the Snow Cruiser became a remote base for polar explorers. They say that in the warm cabins of the land ship (the diesels were in good working order) they managed to stage several experiments. The last time the car was seen in 1958, and now you can get acquainted with the unique development only from the photo.

Soviet experience

As mentioned above, machines for cold poles in the USSR were turned to after the war. First, they tried to break into Antarctica on civilian tractors ChTZ and trucks ZIL-157. It happened in 1955 during the transantarctic expedition, and the machines showed themselves not in the best way. High specific ground pressure and insufficient engine power did not allow to develop high speed - polar explorers managed to overcome no more than 450 km per shift. Nevertheless, there was nothing to choose from, and ChTZ, ZIL-157, and later the AT-T tracked artillery tractor for a couple of years became the basis of the Soviet group at the South Pole. In 1957, an AT-T improved in accordance with operating experience was brought under the name "Product-401A". The car was insulated, the engine was modernized and the width of the tracks was increased to 75 cm.

Frost-resistant: equipment for the Far North

"Kharkovchanka". Source:

But the first truly prepared vehicle for the conquest of snowy deserts was the Kharkivchanka tracked transporter with the factory name “Product 404C”. The debut copy appeared in 1958 and was built on the basis of the mentioned AT-T tractor. For greater carrying capacity, the chassis was stretched over a couple of rollers, and the tracks were widened to 1 meter. With a curb weight of 35 tons, "Kharkivchanka" ("Product - 404C") could pull a trailer weighing up to 70 tons along the virgin snow. Moreover, the polar machine could swim! The hull was a sealed boat, and caterpillars provided movement on the water at speeds up to 4 km / h. From the name it is clear that the development and construction of the tractor was carried out in Kharkov at the transport engineering plant. Have tank As a result, engineers turned out to be a real self-propelled home for a polar explorer, capable of long-term "autonomy" and tolerably protecting from the cold. The developers provided for thermal insulation of eight layers of nylon wool, which, however, was not enough in 60-degree frosts. According to eyewitnesses, the living quarters of "Products 404C" lost up to 10 degrees per day when the heaters were inoperative. The inconvenience was added by a 12-cylinder 520-horsepower tank diesel engine, located inside the hull and often smoking with exhaust directly into the cabins of the tracked ship. The diesel power plant E16MA1 also failed to be properly sealed from the interior. Despite this, the first generation "Kharkovchanka" has worked for over 40 years.

To be continued ...

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  1. polpot
    polpot 7 September 2021 18: 18
    Thank you, interesting but not enough, we are waiting for the continuation.
    1. knn54
      knn54 7 September 2021 19: 21
      I saw (in the early 80s) the arctic version of the ZIL-130.
      For the transportation of goods in GBAO - then in the highlands there was no alternative to them.
      I was impressed by double glazing, interior, "fur" upholstery of the cabin.
      KhTZ-10NK-excellent transporter (snow and swamp-going vehicle) was created by specialists of KhTZ on the basis of MT-LB.
      Eugene, plus.
      1. loki565
        loki565 7 September 2021 22: 02
        Now they use foreign vehicles, although the principle has remained the same, a tractor with wide tracks plus a sled.
  2. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 7 September 2021 18: 19
    There is a good Soviet film "72 degrees below zero" on this subject, if I am not mistaken.
    The cast is good and the difficulties of the route are well communicated.
    1. barium
      barium 29 September 2021 21: 54
      in the film, I especially liked how they cranked up the frozen diesel engine!
    2. nznz
      nznz 4 October 2021 00: 59
      every Severin knows that the characteristic wind + temperature is important. Sometimes at 20 degrees of frost the breeze blows 20 m / s and a skiff
    3. Mihalych
      Mihalych 23 October 2021 08: 06
      On this topic it is better to read Vladimir Sanin "72 degrees below zero", "Antarctica is hard to let go", "Trapped", "For those who are in drift."
  3. ja-ja-vw
    ja-ja-vw 7 September 2021 18: 59
    Snow cruiser

    its size, shape and overhangs immediately reminded me of the M577 (Hunslet ATT77) armored personnel carrier from the movie "Aliens"

    always wondered how he overcomes obstacles with such overhangs and clearance.
    It turns out like this:

    Poulter solved this problem in a cavalry manner.

    I like the Soviet approach more than the Poulter one
    1. Evgeny Fedorov
      7 September 2021 19: 02
      Good evening! You are not the only one who likes the Soviet approach. Experience has shown that it simply could not have been otherwise))
      1. ja-ja-vw
        ja-ja-vw 7 September 2021 19: 14
        Quote: Evgeny Fedorov
        Experience has shown that it simply could not have been otherwise))

        Hi. because we have where to train.
        the capital was in the Arctic Circle.
      2. Serg koma
        Serg koma 8 September 2021 12: 12
        Quote: Evgeny Fedorov
        Experience has shown that it simply could not have been otherwise))

        Of course not, if "It is impossible to build roads in arctic conditions, at least, currently. Permafrost is gradually receding, but weak-bearing soils remain, turning into mud in the off-season. Any road, rail or road, causes tremendous damage to the environment and costs prohibitively"
        Toli Tolya, Toli Kolya ???
        You will decide whether roads are possible in the Arctic zone, and whether they are available today.
        The Obskaya - Bovanenkovo ​​- Karskaya railway is the northernmost operating railway in the world

        Novy Urengoy - Nadym - Salekhard, since December 2020, automobile communication with Salekhard has become year-round

        "Yandex maps" to help

        And finally - "the cherry on the cake" laughing "Northern Latitudinal Passage" ("NLR" not to be confused with the USA)
        the first stage of the SSH (Vorkuta-N. Urengoy) will cost about 240-260 billion rubles (slightly more than the Crimean bridge). The total length of the SSH-1 route is just over 700 km.

        The route will run in permafrost conditions, often at a great distance from any civilization.
        The picture is complemented by extremely low temperatures, polar winds, heavy snowfalls and multiple floods - the North Shore will cross the channels of dozens of rivers and rivulets.
        By the way, it will be necessary to build bridges across all these rivers and streams, the main of which is the bridge across the Ob River, one of the greatest rivers in the world. Moreover, the SSH will cross it almost at the very mouth.
        1. Captain45
          Captain45 12 September 2021 09: 13
          Quote: Serg Koma
          And in conclusion - "the icing on the cake" "Northern Latitudinal Passage" ("SSH" not to be confused with the USA)

          The former Stalinist construction site No. 507 was ruined by Khrushchev. Yes, it was built in the bulk of the w / c, but the strategic importance of this railway in the development of the North is undeniable. There are still abandoned steam locomotives in the tundra, and some parts of the embankment will be used for the construction of the SSH.
          1. Serg koma
            Serg koma 12 September 2021 09: 58
            Quote: Captain45
            Stalin's building No. 507

            You are mistaken...
            from Salekhard towards Igarka ("Building No. 501") and towards - from Igarka to Salekhard ("Building No. 503")
            And "construction site number 507" -
            Building 507 was established in 1950. Construction Department 507 was located in the village of De-Kastri, Khabarovsk Territory. In the operational command, it was initially subordinate to the Main Directorate of Camps for Railway Construction (GULZhDS), and later to the Directorate of Camps and Colonies of the Directorate of the Ministry of Justice for the Sakhalin Region.
            - Building No. 506/507 - construction of a tunnel crossing through the Tatar Strait. “Building No. 506” with a center in Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky and “Building No. 507” with a center in De-Kastri
            "Building No. 500" - Komsomolsk-Sov. Harbor
            "Building No. 505" - railway Naushki-Ulan Bator
            More details on the internet on request:
            Main Directorate of Railway Construction (GUZhDS) NKVD of the USSR (1940-1941)
            Main Directorate of Railway Construction Camps (GULZHD) NKVD - Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR (1941-1953)
    2. Bad Pig (Ham)
      Bad Pig (Ham) 8 September 2021 18: 10
      Poulter solved this problem in a cavalry way.

      it was smooth on paper ...
      The "miracle of technology" developed by armchair theorists who had never been to the Antarctic (and the Arctic), suffered a natural fiasco ...
      in the states they always knew how to "cut the loot", one Howard Hughes was worth what
  4. Azis
    Azis 7 September 2021 19: 09
    "Kharkovchanka" ("Product - 404WITH")
    The car and the experience are of course wonderful. But the numbers in the product index are interesting in relation to the current geography.
  5. Max PV
    Max PV 7 September 2021 20: 42
    The Arctic may be a cool oasis by then

    Uh-huh, of course, two times. Even according to the most radical forecasts, a warming of 7-8 ° C is expected on average, which means that in winter it will not be minus 40, but at best minus 30. And it is not a fact that the Gulf Stream will continue. And without it, the climate on the coast of Norway, even taking into account the warming, will be like on the azure coast of the Laptev Sea - snow, ice and navigation 2-3 months a year.
    But the most important thing is why the Arctic, Siberia and northern Canada, even taking into account warming in the next hundred years, cannot be considered as an alternative to the tropics and subtropics in terms of human habitation, this is the cost of life support. In fact, it is cheaper to live in the Sahara than in the Arctic. And this is clearly visible if you look at the population density map. It's simple: to heat the premises per person per day in the Far North conditions, from 10 to 25 kWh of thermal energy is required, depending on the quality of thermal insulation and the standard of living. And this is equivalent to obtaining 12-30 liters of desalinated water even by the most inefficient distillation method in terms of energy consumption. And this is not taking into account the fact that food will have to be imported.
  6. 110600122708
    110600122708 7 September 2021 21: 03
    In addition, a train hovering on a magnetic levitation does not exert much pressure on the supports.

    I wonder what he is leaning on then, on the air?
    1. Monar
      Monar 9 September 2021 04: 46
      The same eye stung. Is the third volume of Isaac Batkovich really canceled? request
  7. Kozak Za Bugra
    Kozak Za Bugra 8 September 2021 01: 03
    Thanks for the article, I look forward to continuing. I always liked the theme of polar all-terrain vehicles.
  8. sagitovich
    sagitovich 8 September 2021 12: 57
    For equipment for the extreme north, it is also necessary to develop oils and lubricants so that at -60 and below they "work". Once he was building an oil heating station near Pechora. At night until -55, you will start a hell of a technique. And if you warm it up with a PPU and start it up, the truck cranes got up in half an hour anyway. Frost however ....
  9. Captain45
    Captain45 12 September 2021 09: 23
    On the topic of northern transport:

    This is the kind of technique that walks along the Taimyr "winter roads"
  10. nznz
    nznz 4 October 2021 00: 55
    7years on Novaya Zemlya. The most suitable transport for a trip to a blizzard (we called the option, then Blizzard and by numbers 1.2.3 the first option is the coolest). GTS - especially with a working stove and a thick tarpaulin at the stern. It makes some people feel sick, and those sitting at the exit are like millers, white from the all-pervading powder of snow. in normal weather, along the roads after the 5500-strong tractor, you can dissect it in the Urals. In option 3, the lines on the road can be smashed with a running start (people out of the car).
  11. Most polite
    Most polite 11 October 2021 20: 41
    So technology for the High North, Arctic or Antarctic?
    Although not an expert, I suspect that the technique for this must be differently designed. Swamps, tundra in one case, and icy deserts in the other.
  12. Rokot
    Rokot 6 November 2021 01: 16
    a train hovering on a magnetic levitation does not exert much pressure on the supports

    The author is not on friendly terms with physics. F = -F