In spite of Oshkosh. “Kalam-1”: the last army truck ZIL

ZIL-4334A1, developed as part of the Kalam-1 design and development project. Source:

ZIL-131: farewell to retirement

Back in 1977, ZIL made the first attempts to replace the 131st truck. The military demanded to equip the novelty with a ZIL-645 diesel engine, raise the carrying capacity to 4 tons, and also replace the cabin with a design capable of withstanding weapons of mass destruction. In addition, the army planned to locally book the cab of the new truck in the future, so there could be no talk of any panoramic curved glass. The first prototypes, created in 1977 in the airborne version, were named ZIL-132 (in some sources – ZIL-136). The main thing here is not to confuse this car with the ZIL-132 three-axle floating all-terrain vehicle of the special design bureau ZIL.

The cabin of the new car was angular in shape – it was she who became the prototype for the next generation of cars. The 4334 index itself for an on-board vehicle appeared in 1981, but for some reason the cab of an experienced truck was returned from the ZIL-131. This hybrid received a reinforced frame, finally a diesel V-shaped eight-cylinder 185-horsepower engine, an automatic fan clutch, an automatic preheater, an amplifier in the clutch drive, a winch with a wave gear and new radial tires. This machine also remained in the experimental category.

ZIL-132. 1977 year. The first attempt to replace the ZIL-131. Source:

8 years later, in 1989, the third version of the cab appears on a car with the long name ZIL-433410. In this version, the cabin was partially unified with the civil one from ZIL-4331, which has been produced in small series since 1986. The new truck could take on board 3.75 tons of payload and was equipped with a multi-fuel diesel 170-horsepower engine. The windshield was now divided into two flat parts, which made it possible, among other things, to mount bulletproof glass.

In 1994, the front cladding was finally unified with civilian trucks and once again the updated truck was called ZIL-433420. In a tank-repair version, these vehicles were exported along with the T-90 tanks ordered by the Indian Armed Forces. Also for foreign buyers, Muscovites have developed another hybrid – ZIL-131D with a 145-horsepower 145T “Faizer” diesel engine from the “Perkins” company. ZIL-433420 became the best embodiment of the concept of the 131st car, coupled with a diesel engine, which provided the truck with a cruising range of 1,300 kilometers.

This is how the successors of the ZIL-131 could look like. Source:

Army ZIL-4343. Differences from the previous ZML-131 only in the cockpit and engine. Source:

ZIL-433420. Source:

ZIL-433420. Source:

In spite of Oshkosh.
ZIL-433420 at the open area No. 1 of the museum of the Ryazan Military Automobile Institute (RVAI). Source:

Another representative of the multifaceted Zilovsky family is the ZIL-433410 with a modified cockpit tail. Pay attention to the windshield – just such a design was introduced later on Kalam-1 machines. Open area No. 1 of the Museum of the Ryazan Military Automobile Institute (RVAI). Source:

Describing the army history of ZIL in the 90s, one cannot fail to mention another car assembled from units of different models. This is a two-axle ZIL-432730 with a carrying capacity of 2.3-2.4 tons, which was put into small-scale production in 1996. The car was assembled from transmission units and wheels ZIL-131, Minsk diesel (again with a long name) D-245.9 MMZ E2, cabins from 4334 and plumage from “Bychka”. In the early 2000s, when the army began to feel a shortage of on-board vehicles for the Airborne Forces, the Moscow Automobile Plant decided to push its hybrid into the framework of the state defense order. But the requirements for airborne vehicles are somewhat stricter than for ordinary army trucks, they had to go through pile tests. What are they? The truck is attached to a special platform, raised by 1 meter or more, and then dropped onto concrete. This simulates the hard landing of a vehicle with a parachute system. After such a not weak fall, the truck for the Airborne Forces must also make a control run. Naturally, the Zilovites had to strengthen the frame and suspension of the army “Bychka”, as well as save money for a control discharge.

ZIL-43273N, failed replacement of GAZ-66. Source:

The whole procedure was carried out by the capital FSUE “Universal” – the Moscow design and production complex. It cost about 8 million rubles. The factory workers did not find money, the pile tests did not take place, which put an end to the future ZIL for the Airborne Forces. By the way, money appeared in Naberezhnye Chelny for testing KamAZ-43501, and then the corresponding contract of the Ministry of Defense appeared. After the fight, the engineers of the Moscow Automobile Plant waved their fists for a long time, assuring that their “Bychok” was better than KamAZ in terms of weight and dimensions to replace the GAZ-66. The Nizhniy Tagil car was more noticeable larger than the ZIL and the more retired “Shishiga”. The consequence of this was the high windage of the truck, which had to be taken into account when thrown from the plane. Perhaps this failure was the plant’s penultimate attempt to seize on the salvage defense order. ZIL, which in the best Soviet times provided up to 40% of the army’s needs for wheeled vehicles, gradually moved away from the Russian arms market. The last attempt to gain a foothold was the development work of “Kalam-1”, which became a breakthrough in many ways.

Russian Oshkosh

According to one of the versions, voiced in the publication “Equipment and Armaments: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” the idea of ​​starting the Kalam-1 ROC came to the Main Armored Directorate under the impression of the American Oshkosh MTVR trucks. These machines came to the place of the M939, which in many respects was an analogue (albeit heavier) of the domestic ZIL-131 and Ural-4320. And in May 2001, MTVR (Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement) appeared in the United States, a “medium tactical replacement vehicle” for the Marine Corps and the Navy.

Oshkosh MTVR. The machine, the concept of which the engineers of the Kalam-1 ROC were guided by. Naturally, they did not pay attention to the weight and size parameters. Source:

For the United States Army, this car was very modern: a 6-cylinder 11.9-liter Caterpillar C-12 diesel (425 hp), an automatic 7-range Allison gearbox with electronic control, an independent lever-spring suspension TAK-4 with travel of each wheel from 325 to 406 mm, electronic tire pressure change system, automatic traction control on the wheels, ABS, as well as a welded aluminum cabin. At the moment, Oshkosh has delivered more than 10 thousand trucks to the troops, including those equipped with local armor MTVR Armor Systems. The range of trucks includes both relatively light 4×4 vehicles and huge 8×8 vehicles with a carrying capacity of 16.5 tons. Oshkosh MTVR managed to fight in Iraq, where it proved itself very well (obviously, for this reason, it attracted the attention of the Russian military). Interestingly, the GABTU did not plan to create a truck of a similar size – the lightest version of the MK23 pulled more than 13 tons of curb weight. It was rather a job for the Kremenchug Automobile Plant than for ZIL. Therefore, in the technical requirements for the promising ZIL of the Kalam-1 project, both the carrying capacity and dimensions were seriously reduced relative to the American counterpart.

In 2004, AMO-ZIL developed two cars with long indexes (once again) 4327A1 and 4334A1. The first truck was two-axle and with a payload of 2.5 tons, and the second was with three axles and a payload of 4 tons. Externally, the Kalam-1 vehicles practically did not differ from the army trucks of the previous series, except that the separate windshields gave out a specific purpose in ZIL. However, in terms of technical content, the Kalamas have seriously departed from their distant ancestor ZIL-131. The main motto of the developers was: “Modularity and unification!” This can be seen even in the example of motors. On the two-axle ZIL-4327A1, a 4-cylinder turbodiesel YaMZ-534 with a capacity of 173 hp was installed. with., and for the six-wheeled “Kalam” added two more cylinders of 1.1 liters each and obtained already 230-strong YaMZ-536. These motors were developed in Yaroslavl almost from scratch with the support of the foreign engineering firm AVL List, equipped with a Common Rail fuel injection system from Bosch, a charge air cooler (intercooler) and electronics to prevent excessive engine speed. For the beginning of the XXI century, these engines were quite modern not only for military operation, but also for the civilian market.

ZIL-4334A1 “Kalam-1”. Pay attention to the components of the front independent suspension. Source:

Of course, cars of the Kalam-1 family could not dream of any automatic gearbox – in Russia they did not know how to make such units for such equipment. As, however, they do not know how to do it now. On the ZIL-4327A1, Muscovites installed a mechanical 5-speed gearbox SAAZ-136A2, and the senior friend received a self-developed gearbox ZIL-4334K2 with 6 steps. At the same time, both potential units could “digest” more torque than the Yaroslavl motors produced. This was the groundwork for further modernization of trucks.

An important difference from the ancient design of the ZIL-131 was the permanent four-wheel drive; it was decided to abandon the capricious system of connecting the front axle. The general scheme of the transmission remained the same with one through axle in the 6×6 version, but in addition, rear center and cross-axle differentials appeared. The track was increased from 1820 mm (ZIL-4334 and its predecessors) to 2030 mm, which made it possible to follow the track on the off-road with the heavier Ural and KamAZ vehicles.

ZIL-4334A1 “Kalam-1”. Source:

One of the main advantages of the Kalamov was the fully independent suspension of all wheels. This, firstly, seriously improved the smoothness and cross-country ability, and, secondly, it made it possible to implement the principle of modularity. Now it was relatively painless to “roll” another driving axle to the truck. On the machines of the ZIL-131 family, recall, there was a balanced leaf spring suspension at the back. It should be noted that ZIL’s engineers approached the suspension structure in a non-trivial way, installing a composite torsion bar as an elastic element. It was a rod in a tube made of high alloy steel. It turned out to be relatively compact, reliable and durable. By the way, outwardly, Kalam-1 trucks with an empty body can be distinguished in the photographs by the slight “clubfoot” of the rear wheels, caused by the design features of the independent suspension. The result is an excellent chassis, albeit somewhat overweight: the truck’s weight utilization rate has dropped. Now the more lifting KamAZ and Ural trucks outperformed the Moscow “Kalamov” in terms of this indicator. For example, KamAZ-43114 with a curb weight of 9030 kg could take 6.09 tons on board, and ZIL-4334A1 – only 4 tons with an equipped weight of 8.53 tons. Nevertheless, due to a more advanced power unit, this did not affect the specific fuel consumption so significantly.

As you can already understand, “Kalam-1” in none of the options did not appear in the Russian Army. After going through the entire test cycle of the GABTU, the military department did not issue an order for this truck, which is in many ways unique for the domestic industry. Following the last army truck ZIL, the main production of the Moscow Automobile Plant also died.

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