The purely army-designed equipment is ready to serve on the "citizen".

Anatoly FOMIN. Author photo

They say the military knows how to keep secrets. But when the situation is a little more open, why not talk about topics that, if they were not a state secret, were at least intended “for official use”. For example, about the Gorky Automobile Plant. In the majority's view, this is a purely civilian enterprise, and the all-wheel drive GAZ-66 was considered the most “defense” product. In fact, the Gorky Automobile Plant is the author of a whole family of armored personnel carriers, starting with the BTR-40 of the 50s and ending with the latest BTR-90. The Arzamas Engineering Plant only made machines that were always designed and finished at GAZ.


Much has been written about this car, and the imagination of correspondents at times clearly hit over the edge. If you take a closer look at the design, then “Vodnik” is best represented as a “half” of the BTR-80. A torsion bar suspension was borrowed from this machine, transmission elements - wheel reducers, main gears and a tire inflation system. The highlight of Vodnik is the modular layout: various add-ons can be attached to the lower part of the trough-like sealed enclosure from the top - from the passenger compartment for eight people to the armored turret with a heavy machine gun or 120 mm mortar.

Actually, there are two “watermen”: GAZ-3937 with a short front overhang and a tandem cabin and GAZ-39371 with a normal three-seater cabin located in an enlarged overhang. All other modifications differ only in the types of modules used.

Can the Vodnik swim? The technical documentation says that Vodnik is a car with a displacement body, but you still cannot call it a full-fledged amphibian. The main reason is the lack of a drainage system and a water cannon. However, an all-terrain vehicle can quite overcome small water barriers due to the rotation of the wheels.

The problem of Vodnik is the lack of a suitable engine. The six-cylinder GAZ air-cooled diesel engine is discontinued, the four-cylinder is too weak, as is the six-cylinder GAZ-562 (Steyr), however. The main hope is the promising Yaroslavl diesel engine YaMZ-460, the prototypes of which have already been tried at Vodnik. This four-cylinder turbocharged engine with a four-valve timing scheme with a working volume of 4 liters develops 160 liters. with. at only 2400 rpm and has an impressive torque of 588 N.m. But if, for obvious reasons, military customers are only interested in domestic components, then “for peaceful purposes” it is possible to use foreign motors. This option was proposed by the Nizhny Novgorod company Technoservice - the Japanese naturally aspirated diesel Hino-J07C of almost the same power, though with a volume of 6.6 liters.


The GAZ-66 all-terrain vehicle (in the Shishiga driver's jargon) has been produced since 1964, and in 1969 it was the first in the USSR to which it was awarded the quality mark. The original layout with a cabin above the engine made it possible to create a compact truck with a high cross-country ability for the army. However, what was an outstanding achievement in the 60s, even with a stretch, does not meet the requirements of the 90s. Civilian consumers need an economical diesel engine, a comfortable cab, and high payload. In addition, without a permanent military order, the plant cannot support the production of completely different types of cabins.

Thus was born the GAZ-3308 "Sadko" - a "hybrid" of the civilian GAZ-3307 and all-wheel drive transmission GAZ-66. The result was an inexpensive car, not inferior to its predecessor, but widely unified with a civilian model. Naturally, Sadko also retained a trademark secret, which ensured a high passability for the Shishiga - cam friction differentials in bridges. There will be three variants of the novelty: standard with a carrying capacity of 2 tons with 12R18 single-tire tires, “military” with extended tires 12R20, carrying capacity of 2.3 tons, a tire pressure regulation system and a winch, and “civilian” with 8.25R20 gable wheels with a loading capacity of 4 t.

However, the stumbling block, as in the case of Vodnik, was the engine. The military is quite happy with the old V8 carburetor engine. Those who pay for gas themselves do not need such an engine for free at current prices. There were three candidates for a place under the Sadko hood: a six-cylinder in-line GAZ-562 with a turbo-charging capacity of 92 kW / 125 l. s., Minsk

D-245.7 (90 kW / 122 hp) and the Japanese "Hino" in the four-cylinder version (103 kW / 140 hp). The Japanese motor is not only the most powerful, but also the most expensive, and therefore will be available to the most demanding and wealthy customers. The GAZ-562 diesel is potentially the most economical and with the successful development of production has every chance of becoming a very popular engine. However, a modest displacement and relatively high revs make the car with it not so attractive on heavy roads. Contrary to expectations, the next version of the Minsk tractor engine D-245.7 was quite suitable for the truck, providing a maximum speed of 90 km / h and a control fuel consumption of 17 l / 100 km.


Many times saw an armored personnel carrier, abbreviated armored personnel carrier. But to distinguish at first glance the obsolete BTR-60, BTR-70, the modern BTR-80 and the latest BTR-90, unless, of course, put them near, not everyone can. Once found, the layout outwardly seems completely unchanged, although changes regularly took place inside the armored corps. The first “eight-wheeled vehicle” was driven by two forced GAZ-51 engines with parallel transmissions. It was believed that such a scheme increases the survivability of the machine. Maybe - but not reliability. Hardly what equipment in the Soviet Army deserved more complaints, but the process of improving the design went on as usual. The BTR-70 possessed two already more powerful GAZ-53 engines, but this added only a little agility to it. Only with the advent of the BTR-80 with one KAMAZ 260-horsepower diesel engine did the “bronik” begin to drive as it should.

The latest BTR-90, which has not yet entered service, is equipped with a 500-horsepower engine, a hydromechanical gearbox and an on-board transmission, which independently transmit torque to the wheels of the right and left sides. Therefore, the BTR-90 began to turn not only due to two pairs of steered wheels, but also, like tracked vehicles, can turn around almost on the spot. The new armored personnel carrier is much higher and heavier than its predecessor, it has a larger wheel diameter, increased ground clearance and suspension travel. Although the BTR-90 weighs nearly 21 tons, not every truck can compete with it on the highway. Thanks to the large wheels and the long-stroke torsion bar suspension, the car can move at a speed of 50 km / h, even in rugged terrain. There is a separate discussion about armor and weapons, but even here the BTR-90 is very noticeably superior to its predecessor.