Special operation star: MT-LB multi-purpose transporter

Special operation star: MT-LB multi-purpose transporter
The publication “Rybar” dedicated a special piece of art to the MT-LB. Here are not all the variations of the use of "Motoliga"

Product 6

How and where was “Motolyga” born, which almost became a military-technical symbol of the special operation?

This happened in Soviet Kharkov in 1960 at the famous tractor plant KhTZ. The tractor did not appear out of nowhere, but from the realization of two truths.

The first is the previous AT-L vehicle (light artillery tractor), although it was distinguished by its high-quality performance, but it had exhausted all possibilities for modernization. It was necessary to significantly increase the power and thrust-to-weight ratio of the vehicle. According to the layout, the AT-L is a typical truck with a front-mounted MTO, mounted on crawler tracks.

As soon as we tried to increase the engine power above 135 hp. pp., problems began with the distribution of masses. A gearbox for a more powerful engine added both dimensions and weight.

As a result, the tractor would bury its nose on soft soils, and with a sharp deceleration it intended to roll over. Therefore, an artillery tractor with an unconventional layout for the 50s and 60s was required.

The second reason for the appearance of the MT-LB was the changed requirements for military equipment. The vehicle had to have a low silhouette, high mobility, be able to swim and have light armor. In addition, you can also shoot back from a machine gun.

The designers were presented with a problem that no one had solved before - in fact, we can talk about a technical revolution. However, the times were appropriate - in the 50s–70s the country created such a foundation for the future that we are still using its fruits by inertia. And MT-LB is no exception.

Artillery tractor AT-L - the immediate predecessor of the MT-LB


It is impossible to talk about the Motolyga solely as an artillery tractor. Perhaps this is the most multifunctional tracked platform of the first Soviet and later the Russian Army.

The product benefits from high mobility due to its powerful 240 hp motor. pp., located in the central part of the boat hull. In addition to the fact that the vehicle’s capabilities on weak-bearing soils were improved, this made it possible to sail well without fear of a critical trim on the bow. The gearbox is located in the front overhang, providing additional protection and balancing the loaded machine.

The high power supply initially somewhat complicated the work of the artillery crews. Easily reaching 60 km/h even with the gun on the coupling, the MT-LB caused the rubber in the wheels of the artillery carriages to overheat. It got to the point that on a multi-kilometer march, the tires simply burst from the temperature. After several incidents, the wheel travel of the guns had to be urgently modified.

The adoption of the MT-LB in 1964 increased the mobility of artillery batteries by an average of 20–30 percent. The main towed guns for the Motolyga were the 100 mm anti-tank BS-3 and MT-12. A few decades later, these guns will be installed on the roof of the MT-LB troop compartment, transferring the tractor-transporter to a completely different rank.

Serial and not very variants of MT-LB

Now many people are ironic about mounting a wide range of weapons on the MT-LB on special operations fronts. There is nothing surprising in this - Motolyga was designed at the preparatory stage as a universal platform. In Kharkov, from the very beginning, they created a whole family of armored vehicles for various needs.

The most famous is probably the seven-roller (regular MT-LB with six rollers on board) chassis for the 122-mm 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled gun. The full name of the tracked vehicle is MT-LBush “product 26”. “Gvozdika” rightfully shares the well-deserved laurels of “Motolyga” in special operations. Although for most tasks the self-propelled gun is already outdated and must be replaced by the more modern 2S34 Khosta. The 120-mm self-propelled gun is also built on the chassis of the now immortal Motolyga.

The seven-cylinder base was continued in the MT-LBu model with a completely updated boat hull and a 300-horsepower engine. The vehicle is used, in particular, as a carrier of the Zoo counter-battery system. In its civilian version, the MT-LBu model is known as the Kharkov floating transporter.

Unimplemented projects on the MT-LB platform

But let’s return to the classic “Moto League”, which became the ancestor of a whole line of specific armored vehicles.

The artillery tractor eventually faded into the background, and MT-LB changed several professions at once.

“Product 35” or 9P149 combat vehicle of the “Sturm-S” anti-tank complex.

Conceptually, a very interesting product - its squat silhouette seriously complicated the detection of a self-propelled ATGM, which until recently was a significant advantage. Currently, air reconnaissance means actually devalue such a specific vehicle, or require great effort to cover. Nevertheless, Shturm-S operates in Ukraine. Just like the UR-77 machine for making passages in minefields, built on a seven-roller chassis.

NG52P6 machine for temporary storage, transportation and installation of nuclear mines.

Probably the most exotic way to use the MT-LB chassis was the special NG52P6 vehicle for temporary storage, transportation and installation of nuclear mines. Or the K-612-O nuclear explosion detection station from the K-612-OK lighting complex.

Improvisations on a theme

With great reservations, the MT-LB can be used as an infantry armored personnel carrier. There are several caveats.

Firstly, weak armor does not allow us to even get close to the front line with 11 paratroopers. As in the case of infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, infantry prefers to move on the roof of the Motolyga.

Secondly, the design did not include the vehicle’s resistance to explosion by modern engineering ammunition. The low silhouette means that the crew and troops are close to the surface, which dramatically increases the lethality. We are also not talking about any damping seats - MT-LB was developed in the 60s, when such solutions were far from a priority.

According to the fashion of that time, MT-LB can swim slowly, but still. There are no water cannons - movement along the water surface is due to caterpillars and stern hydrodynamic reflectors. BMP-1 and BMP-2 behave in a similar way.

The first domestic improvisations based on MT-LB appeared in Afghanistan. The soldiers installed an 82-mm automatic mortar "Cornflower" on the transporter. The appearance of such an ersatz should have led the military to think about adopting a factory self-propelled mortar. But no, they waited until the 2020s. However, the problem of mobile mortars has still not been completely resolved in the Russian Army. As they wrote in their memoirs,

“The Vasilka attachment point on the roof of the conveyor was made from scrap materials - from parts of damaged cars, for example, from channels from the Ural frame; the mortar tray was placed on a wheel rim.”

Nowadays, in a special operation zone, they often don’t look for complicated paths and simply attach the “Cornflower” to the roof of the airborne squad without removing it from the wheels.

Also in Afghanistan, the MT-LBVM modification, intended for the Far North, has proven itself to be excellent. The vehicle's tracks received expanders, the specific pressure on the ground decreased, and the Motolyga had no equal in overcoming sandy wastelands. Where BMPs and BMDs were stuck, the “snowmobile” MT-LBs felt excellent.

MT-LB with naval ZPU 56-P-542 arr. 1939. DShK machine gun

A ship's 25-mm twin 2M-3 on an MT-LB tracked chassis somewhere in the Northeast Military District zone.

S-60 gun on MT-LB.

One of the most exotic add-ons for MT-LB is the MS-227 launcher for the A-22 Ogon ship complex.

At the moment, the rarest modification is the MT-LB with an RBU-6000 depth charge launcher. From the photographs below you can see that a slightly truncated version of the bomb launcher was chosen for the self-propelled gun

The potential for improvisation with the MT-LB during the special operation was truly revealed, as can be seen in the images above.

Why Motolyga?

Firstly, the Russian Army has accumulated at least 50 thousand vehicles. They are reliable and unpretentious, there are no problems with spare parts.

Secondly, there is practically no niche for the MT-LB to be used for its intended purpose - as a transporter and artillery tractor. There are not many guns that the Motolyga can tow, and as an infantry transporter it is too poorly protected.

So it turns out that the product is only suitable as a mobile platform for artillery and missiles, often working from closed positions.

Probably the most correct solution would be the massive conversion of MT-LB into fire support equipment by installing a combat module from the BTR-82A. Moreover, such products are available in limited quantities. Together with enhanced armor, the vehicles will pose a serious threat to the enemy.

Block 80 mm unguided aviation B-8M1 missiles on the MT-LB chassis.

ZPU-4 (4x14,5 mm Vladimirov machine gun) on the MT-LB chassis.

It’s easier to list the guns that were not mounted on the Motolyga, since the platform turned out to be in demand and universal.

The classics were the ZU-23-2 twin cannon, the above-mentioned Vasilek mortar, the ZPU-4 quad mount with 14,5 mm machine guns, vertically paired 25 mm 2M-3M automatic cannons and a block of 80 mm unguided aircraft missiles B- 8M1.

The RBU-6000 Smerch-2 ship bomb launcher looks absolutely exotic. Many have already managed to sneer at the latest product, but if a weapon can effectively and inexpensively destroy the enemy, then why not put it on the Motolyga?

It seems that this motto will guide the army rembats in the Northern Military District zone for a long time to come.
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  1. +46
    13 October 2023 04: 20
    It seems to me that MTLB has become a legend and deserves a Monument. Not only tanks should stand on pedestals.
    1. +22
      13 October 2023 04: 38
      I have always been amazed by the amazing maneuverability of the MTLB through the snow and swamps of the Far North.
      Legendary car!
      1. +21
        13 October 2023 04: 51
        Quote: ROSS 42
        Legendary car!

        And the Swede, and the reaper, and the player on the pipe!
    2. +16
      13 October 2023 07: 40
      Quote: Mekey Iptyshev
      It seems to me that MTLB has become a legend and deserves a Monument. Not only tanks should stand on pedestals.

      I completely agree with you. This is the case when fantastic opportunities are hidden under a nondescript appearance.
    3. +31
      13 October 2023 08: 19
      And such a monument already exists, in Bronnitsy in the Moscow region

      The article is very informative, respect to the author!
    4. +10
      13 October 2023 10: 11
      Today the author has a huge plus! good
    5. +22
      13 October 2023 11: 18
      Quote: Mekey Iptyshev
      deserves a Monument.

      There is such a thing... in Severomorsk, Krasnoarmeyskoye, Samara region, Bronnitsa, Kopeisk, Aleksandrovka, Rostov region, etc...

    6. 0
      29 October 2023 04: 10
      So it is in every Victory Park, I just saw it today at an exhibition in Krasnodar. Motolyga is a legend, everyone loves and respects her)
  2. +11
    13 October 2023 04: 48
    Good article, almost as good as "Moto League"! )))
    Photo of MT-LB with MS-227 launcher of the A-22 “Fire” ship complex, as it was the only and very controversial one, remains so...
  3. +20
    13 October 2023 05: 21
    Honor and praise to Soviet designers
    1. +19
      13 October 2023 08: 22
      This happened in Soviet Kharkov in 1960 at the famous tractor plant KhTZ.

      Motolyga is a ground version of MI-8, but КEveryone knows the designer M.L. Mil, but who is the author of Motolyga?
      However, this is a flaw by the author.
      1. +13
        13 October 2023 12: 36
        Quote: Popandos
        and who is the author of Motolyga?

        Anatoly Florovich Belousov - designer (maybe chief) of the design bureau of the Kharkov Tractor Plant, graduated from Moscow Higher Technical School named after. Bauman.
        maybe Sabelev Pavel Efimych “had a hand” in the creation
        In Ukraine (and even in Russia) they don’t even know the exact date of Belousov’s death (2010-e)
  4. +1
    13 October 2023 05: 21
    [/quote] Moreover, such products are available in limited quantities [quote]

    Probably in Unlimited?
  5. +10
    13 October 2023 06: 28
    Exactly in the quality of art. The MTLB tractor needs to be used more widely.
    The firing gun, where it can be fired upon, must be towed, as intended, by a special protected tractor, and not a truck. He would also like an effective coupling device to speed up the transfer to the combat position and back as quickly as possible, or even shoot without completely disengaging from the tractor, and strengthen the armor a little.
    The mobility and security of towed artillery would be close to that of self-propelled artillery at a low price
  6. +12
    13 October 2023 06: 38
    I worked in a company that built oil pipelines, at first there were only MTLBs, the cross-country ability is phenomenal, it crawls in the swamp up to the very edge and that’s normal! They welded cargo-passenger platforms on top and drove on like that. But it’s problematic to drive inside; you’re sitting there dead, stinking of diesel fuel and making you feel sick. It was later that the Chetras began to arrive in place of the winders, but they also remained for especially difficult places. By the way, all the equipment came from storage and there was even a special center nearby for re-equipment to customer requirements.
    1. +1
      15 October 2023 15: 48
      The vibrations inside are also terrible, but otherwise the machine is a warrior!
  7. +11
    13 October 2023 08: 00
    there you go! good, useful article!!! thank you, it was very interesting!
  8. +15
    13 October 2023 08: 59
    The Soviet "galosh" without which they would now do anything, thanks to the Soviet designers.
  9. -1
    13 October 2023 10: 02
    The second reason for the appearance of the MT-LB was the changed requirements for military equipment. The vehicle had to have a low silhouette, high mobility, be able to swim and have light armor. In addition, you can also shoot back from a machine gun.

    If the author is not aware, then there was a T-20 “Komsomolets” tractor, which would be more correctly called the predecessor of the “motolyga”, since it performed the same functions, only it could not swim.
    The article is a little chaotic, but well illustrated.
  10. Eug
    13 October 2023 10: 41
    As for me, the only drawback is the RELATIVELY weak protection against mine explosive devices. Still, they knew how to correctly set tasks (develop technical specifications) in the USSR. And without any “artificial intelligence”, “digitalization” and other verbiage, such “galoshes” could be made...
    1. +2
      13 October 2023 17: 30
      But what does TK and AI have to do with it?
      The technical specifications are drawn up by the customer based on the wishes. But the way they find the framework of requirements or draw up a type of design based on an already created technical specification can be taken by AI because of their speed.
      AI and humans generally work in two different stages. They do not contradict each other. It’s just that before there was no AI, and EVERYTHING was done by people. Now it is possible to leave people only in those positions where a person is irreplaceable
    2. -1
      14 October 2023 20: 39
      And without any “artificial intelligence”, “digitalization” and other verbiage, such “galoshes” could be made...

      When the customer and the designers lack their own intelligence, then Artificial Intelligence is required...
  11. +6
    13 October 2023 11: 01
    On the basis of MTLB they also made control vehicles for artillery battalions, as well as radar carriers in anti-aircraft divisions to support Shiloks and self-propelled Strelas.
    1. +2
      14 October 2023 16: 51
      The anti-aircraft gunners also had UBKP battery control vehicles
  12. +13
    13 October 2023 11: 42
    As a signalman, I can add that the motor league was also a platform for the KShM. I myself could compare the R-142 on its base and the Shishigi base. A motolyga is better off-road, but a shishiga with its kung is more comfortable. And MT-LB for many years of active life
  13. +1
    13 October 2023 12: 08
    The widespread use of motor-leagues (in assortment and homemade modernizations), this “armored personnel carrier for the poor” very clearly characterizes the degree to which our troops are equipped with standard armored vehicles and the “high quality” of the latter. MTLB did not intend to use it as an armored vehicle at all.. During the “Ichkeria” showdowns, the motor league was not classified as an armored vehicle..
    1. +4
      13 October 2023 14: 03
      Yeah, I didn’t - they just used it very actively, just like now
      1. +1
        14 October 2023 06: 19
        So the reasons are the same... Nothing has changed in 30 years
    2. 0
      4 February 2024 11: 45
      This is how it still goes through the automotive service, like many tracked chassis for various types of equipment. BT service - tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and... motorcycles.
  14. +10
    13 October 2023 13: 03
    For some reason they didn’t remember one of the most common modifications, Strela 10 and various KShM and PKP.
  15. +6
    13 October 2023 16: 33
    The article is simply magnificent and the author is deeply grateful for his work! good good

    But somehow I didn’t understand this moment. Crudely sloppy photoshop?

    1. +8
      13 October 2023 16: 52
      Yes, it seems, and considering that this sign “stands” on a caterpillar and in general in an open field.
      1. +2
        13 October 2023 17: 20
        Good evening, Igor. hi

        So I thought, maybe some craftsmen added ship installations to the roof of the “motor league” in Photoshop.
        1. +8
          13 October 2023 20: 48
          Hello, there is a lot of Photoshop in this photo, except for the settings))). And the sign is real, here is the original photo, and the sign is hanging because they erased the watermark of the telegram channel
          1. The comment was deleted.
  16. -5
    13 October 2023 17: 27
    A large, industrially developed country (we seem to be exactly like that) is proud of ersatz weapons - the height of incompetence!
    Underdeveloped and moderately developed countries whose economy and production cannot provide the army with what is necessary for the country’s defense can be proud of such weapons. And in such cases, the ingenuity of soldiers can partially offset this lag.
    But if a country has a developed industry, then in theory even the need for such ersatz weapons should not arise, well, only if the country finds itself in a protracted multi-year global war (like WWII) and when a large share of production is destroyed.
    It doesn't beg for mt-lb input. Especially during 2014-2015, when there was a peak shortage of military equipment in the Donbass. And the LDPR itself did not have a large industry, and this is still a dire necessity there. But when parts of the Russian Armed Forces use something like this... it’s strange. After all, it seems that behind the back of the RF Armed Forces is our entire military-industrial complex with a bunch of design bureaus and design bureaus.
    The same USA, the last time they switched to ersatz during Vietnam (the same gantraks were precisely the soldier’s ingenuity). And then they lost (because Vietnam revealed many shortcomings of the army of those years). They drew conclusions, and when they took part in battles in the Middle East in the 90s and 2000s, they did not have to use any ersatz. They improved the organization of the army, supply and conduct of military operations in such a way that the NEED for ersatz did not arise.
  17. +3
    13 October 2023 17: 56
    Here in your next topic people are happy about switching to wheels, but here they are erecting a monument to motorcycle league. I propose to arrange a mud drag between the authors. Whoever wins, his opinion is correct. Personally, I am for motorcycle league
    1. 0
      13 October 2023 20: 12
      Monuments are erected to heroes. And heroism, as we know, is a consequence of a serious failure in the system.
  18. +5
    14 October 2023 08: 41
    Essentially, the MT-LB works for its intended purpose - as an artillery tractor. But the guns are not attached to it, but are placed directly on the chassis.
  19. +3
    14 October 2023 16: 39
    I remember, coming from the exercises, the crews of the BMP and Tunguska were repairing and sorting out their vehicles for a long time. Motorcycle crews washed their cars.... At this point, the maintenance of the equipment could be considered complete. There were no more complaints about the work of motor leagues
  20. +1
    15 October 2023 18: 03
    Probably the most correct solution would be the massive conversion of MT-LB into fire support equipment by installing a combat module from the BTR-82A. Moreover, such products are available in limited quantities. Together with enhanced armor, the vehicles will pose a serious threat to the enemy.
    The capabilities of the BMPT "Terminator", a lightly armored multi-purpose tractor, are unlikely to be surpassed no matter how much they praise and try. But the tractor must remain a tractor, as well as an all-terrain vehicle, which is precisely why the MT-LB was designed, with rare exceptions, as a carrier of some weapons. But you can’t look at the perversions that all sorts of Kulibins invent from MT-LB in the area of ​​the North Military District and not only without tears recourse
  21. 0
    16 October 2023 12: 31
    The motoliga, like the loaf, is our everything. There is no substitute for perfection.))))
  22. 0
    17 October 2023 12: 16
    I protest! They forgot to show the LUXORI style modification!
  23. 0
    18 October 2023 20: 14
    Great article! I read (and watched) with great pleasure. Thank you!
  24. -1
    22 November 2023 08: 17
    Now produced at JSC Muromteplovoz
  25. 0
    6 December 2023 14: 37
    ...they say nothing lasts forever - here is a great example.... there is still no replacement, and there is no sign of it in the future...