The story begins with Dodge ¾
The very concept of an army car, which eventually crystallized into GAZ-66, originates from the Dodge WC lend-lease truck 51/52. This machine had no analogues in the Red Army., not in the world. The main advantage was the versatility of the vehicle, which was unique for those times - the size and thrust-to-weight ratio made it possible to use it as an artillery tractor without any problems., personal transport of high ranks, as well as an ambulance.
However, the world war is over, the "cold" began, and stocks of foreign equipment in the Red Army began to fade.
With a certain degree of convention, it was with Dodge WC 51/52 GAZ-66 began its history
The first replacement for an American all-wheel drive truck was planned to be a bonneted GAZ-62 with a payload of 1,2 tons. Notably, that with such an index at the Gorky Automobile Plant back in 1940 an experimental four-wheel drive "gazik", and our second stage GAZ-62 appeared 12 years later. Therefore, the main thing is not to get confused in them..
The truck turned out okay and, perhaps, turned out to be much more harmonious than the younger brother of the GAZ-69, work on which went in parallel. In some versions, the car was equipped with an onboard body and a winch, and in the craziest version with the index «B» generally had eight wheels.
GAZ-62 - the second car in a series of losers of the 62nd GAZ series
GAZ-62B remained experienced
In total, the car could hold 9 a landing man plus a passenger with a driver and in all respects was a fairly perfect machine for the early 50s. But unexpectedly, the Ministry of Defense changed the requirements for the 62nd car, the project was closed in its original form and moved on to the topic of creating an airborne cabover truck. In fact, the niche of the "unreleased" GAZ-62 in the early sixties was later occupied by the cabover UAZ-451.
Meanwhile, having lost nearly ten years, gorky designers started a new project, already seriously reminiscent of "Shishiga". The main limiting factor was the size of the vehicle - it had to fit into the cargo compartment of the An-8 military transport aircraft. That is why the cab had to be placed above the front axle., which in the future will become almost the main disadvantage of the GAZ-66.
GAZ-62 last, third generation. It is already easy to see the future 66th here.. The first photo is nothing else, like computer graphics - «alive» cars were not left for posterity.
true, in those days it was difficult to imagine, that the nature of the wars of the future will be predominantly partisan with a wide distribution of mines and IEDs. As a result, the dimensions of the second iteration of the GAZ-62 (or already the third, the main thing is not to get confused) had to reduce, do all the top convertible. The windshield was folded, side windows and tarpaulin roof, allowing you to fit the car into the An-8.
In the book "Cars of the Soviet Army 1946-1991", the automotive historian Yevgeny Kochnev writes, what if for GAZ-62 from 1952 the prototype can be considered the mentioned Dodge WC51 / 52, then for the 62nd sample truck 1958 the German Unimog became the landmark. And indeed, some layout solutions are visible in the GAZ-62, and his heir GAZ-66. In the Soviet Union, even comparative tests of the Shishigi and the German car were carried out later..
Prefabricated experimental airborne vehicle with a cabin from the GAZ-62. 1959 year
Still, it is impossible to call the Unimog and GAZ-66 classmates - the domestic truck was developed primarily as a purely military vehicle. (by the way, 66-i was the first of its kind), and the "German" was primarily civilian technology, similar in functionality to a tractor.
But back to the GAZ-62, which in the end the military department was dissatisfied, despite the adoption in production. The car has already managed not only to settle on the conveyor (released 69 trucks), but also get into the reference book "Domestic cars" with the expectation of use in the national economy.
Index 62 for GAZ generally became unhappy - three cars at different times were out of work, and the last cabover version did not even bother to save in the factory museum at all. New truck, which replaced the galaxy of unsuccessful, appropriated, as it turned out, much happier index 66, glorified the Gorky Automobile Plant all over the world.
A legend with a quality mark
Chief designers of the 66th GAZ from the end 1957 year became Alexander Dmitrievich Prosvirnin, which the, Besides, supervised the development of almost all of the car plant's iconic cars - from GAZ-53 to GAZ-14 "Chaika". What's new Prosvirnin implemented in the project of a light army tractor truck? First of all, the car has increased in size, obviously, due to the appearance of new military transport An-12 with a larger cargo compartment capacity - after all, air transportability was put by the Ministry of Defense in the first place.
Chief Designer Alexander Prosvirnin and his brainchild in an exemplary photograph
Further, "Shishiga" received a very high specific power - about 33 l. p. / m, which was almost a record for production cars. This was largely ensured by the 8-cylinder ZMZ-66 engine., power 115 l. from., specially designed for the new Gorky truck. The highest cross-country ability among all serial trucks of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 60s "Shishiga" received with the introduction of inter-wheel self-locking limited slip differentials on both axles, as well as a centralized tire inflation system.
by the way, the design of "self-blocks" our engineers spied on German all-terrain vehicles during the war and after, with significant improvements, developed their own mechanism. For the benefit of the off-road capabilities of the GAZ-66, the almost reference weight distribution along the axles on a loaded car also played - 50%/50%.
The first real serial GAZ-66 (an experimental batch of the car was assembled in early November 1963 of the year) was born 1 July 1964 a year and five years later, the first among Soviet cars received the prestigious quality mark. true, evil tongues claimed, that there was not much benefit from it - so, during control tests at the NIIII-21 test site of the Ministry of Defense, a symbolic defect was recorded - "rust leak from under the quality mark".
AT 1971 year with a similar distinctive sign, confirming the high quality of workmanship, awarded gasoline ZMZ-66. Initially, in the GAZ-66 range, there was a version with the letter B for the Airborne Forces, which featured the mentioned hinged windshield and fabric roof. When loading onto the P-7M or PP-128-5000 landing platform, it was necessary to fold the cabin flush with the wooden sides of the body and lower the wheels. Besides, the seat backs were lowered along with the telescopic steering column.
It was a unique design, unparalleled at that time in the world. GAZ-66B was able to withstand overloads up to 9g when landing from four- and five-dome parachute systems, at the same time, a fuel tank was mounted on the chassis, sanitary module, multiple launch rocket system and, Attention, section of the pontoon park DPP-40.
However, with the appearance of the Il-76 and the more so An-22 aircraft in the Air Force, the need for a complex folding structure disappeared and at the end of the 70s the car was discontinued., replacing the usual GAZ-66 with a steel cabin. by the way, version B was developed at Pilot Plant No. 38 Moscow region in Bronnitsy, but produced at one of the repair plants.
GAZ-66 experimental batch with «early» windshield design. The curved side sections and the wooden body are still preserved.. 1960 year
Lev Eremeev - a classic of Soviet auto design
The characteristic and recognizable appearance of the GAZ-66 truck was designed by the designer of the Gorky Automobile Plant Lev Mikhailovich Eremeev, who has applied talent to many masterpieces, among which can be distinguished ZIL-111, GAZ-21 and GAZ-14. Initially, Eremeev was faced with the task of providing good visibility to the driver, why on the first prototypes there was a windshield with curved side sections. But according to the requirements of the Ministry of Defense, they were replaced with characteristic vents., which have become real highlights of the 66th car. This eliminated the need to make complex curved glass and simplified the procedure for replacing broken glass..
The new GAZ-66 immediately became a bestseller in the Soviet Army - the truck quickly replaced the GAZ-63 and became the main light truck of the armed forces.. There were countless modifications ahead, experiments and difficult service in combat conditions.
To be continued…
/Yevgeny Fyodorov, topwar.ru/