These ATVs appeared during the hardest time of Soviet history. Eighty years later, they've turned into some of the most wanted vehicles in the world.
On November 30th 1941, when German troops had occupied a significant part of the USSR and threatened Moscow itself, the country's officials urgently evacuated two factories with workers and its families from Moscow to the small town of Miass in the Ural mountains. There, they had to start a full-scale production of engines, gearboxes and rear axles and other spare parts for tanks and military vehicles in no time. It was the heroic beginning of the modern Ural factory, which celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2021.
In 1943, the factory was tasked with the goal of producing a full range of transport vehicles. The State Defense Committee then made a decision to transfer the entire production of trucks to Miass. On that day, a small factory that produced spare parts and a limited number of basic trucks turned into a full-scale enterprise specialising in military support transport.
In July of 1944, the Ural company sent the first batch of its fully modified ZiS-5B trucks to the front line. And, two months later, their quantity reached 1,000 vehicles. They were the truck types for transferring people, ammo, medicine and other valuable cargo to the battlefield.
By the end of the war, the company had sent 6,800 vehicles to the front line. Later, the company would become the largest military and civilian truck producer in the Soviet Union.
Here is the list of the best vehicles created by the legendary company.
The ZiS-5 was the first vehicle to leave the factory half a year after its inception.
The truck had been produced since June 1942. It was created from the basic resources the company was able to get after the evacuation.
The first version of the ZiS-5 had a wooden framed cabin covered with planks instead of metal sheets. Vehicles had only one headlight instead of two and only rear wheel brakes.
The vehicle's suspension had no shock absorbers and the cabin couldn't be heated in winter.
The vehicle configuration was as simple as it could get. Yet, the vehicle was reliable and had excellent all-terrain mobility for a 4x2.
In 1944, when the tides of war turned in favor of the Soviet Union, the company was capable of fixing all disadvantages of the first ZiS-5 model and turned the new version, the ZiS-5B, into one of the most produced transport vehicles in the country.
It passed a number of modifications until it was surpassed by the next generation transport vehicle, the Ural-375, that had higher cross-country ability and higher weight load.
LutzBruno(CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Ural-375 was an all-wheel-drive truck with 180 horsepower that appeared in the early 1960s. Drivers often called it "a glutton", as it consumed a huge amount of AI-93 gasoline - around 48 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers.
It replaced the ZiS-5B and all of its modifications in the army, due to its high cross-country ability and possibility to modify it and use it as a multipurpose military platform. For example, the Ural-375 could have been turned and used as a field fuel tanker, truck crane, etc.
Later, versions of the Ural-375 would refrain from gasoline engines in favor of diesel ones and receive a bigger weight load. The latter feature would make it capable of installing weapons on it and turn a transport and support vehicle into a full-scale military machine.
Ural 4320 and its military versions
In 1976, the company created Ural 4320, which turned into a mass-produced platform for troops and for weapons for many years.
Due to its excellent cross-country capability and suitable base, the Ural was equipped with the Grad multiple rocket launcher system, which was quite a breakthrough technology of the Soviet era. Later, military engineers even enlarged the machine's arsenal with ZU-23-2 automatic cannons.
These weaponised modifications of the Ural vehicles were firstly used in Afghanistan and then became one of the main weapons during the conflict in the Chechen Republic.
The Ural trucks are still used by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as the vehicle is really indispensable and is able to carry anything and anywhere. Each military Ural vehicle has a weight load of seven tons, a 6x6 wheelbase and can accelerate up to speeds of 85 kilometers per hour, even on rough terrain. The base version of a military Ural costs as much as $48,600 and can be seen in armies around the globe. For example, they are widely used in CIS armies, as well as in Eastern Europe and Latin America.
Artem Svetlov (CC BY 2.0)
Besides all of these military transport and support vehicles that are used to this day, Ural also produces commercial trucks for mining, timber harvesting, as well as for oil and gas extraction. The company produces a wide range of all-terrain vehicles under the brand 'Ural Next'.
These machines are presented as some of the most inexpensive all-terrain vehicles, as well as the most fuel-saving. The price tag for these workhorses starts at $50,000 and goes up to $150,000, depending on its configuration.
The new Ural is equipped with an economical 4-stroke engine with liquid-cooling. It has an output of 312 horsepower. These machines were also adapted to operating in temperatures ranging from -45 to +40 degrees Celsius. Each of them can carry from seven to 12 tons of cargo. The latter ranges from standard civilian stuff to logs, bulk building materials, fuel, etc.