For most of our compatriots who served both in the Soviet Army and in the Armed Forces of Russia, the phrase “military truck” is likely to evoke an association with the car of the Kama Automobile Plant, to which the epithet “legendary” is quite applicable. The machine, which was used in almost all branches of the armed forces, not only traveled all over the USSR, but passed the fiery roads of Afghanistan and other countries, where a severe service necessity threw our soldiers, forever entered Soviet and Russian military history.
The first batch of 4310 cars rolled off the assembly line of the giant plant built in record lines in 1981, and their serial production was launched 2 years later. No matter what they tried to talk about the “extremely militarized” Soviet economy, the truck, originally designed and created for the needs of the army, was far from the first in the line of the enterprise. First, eight-ton heavy trucks, dump trucks and truck tractors, which are in demand in the national economy, went into the series. Then it was the turn of the military. However, work on 4310 was carried out for a long time and thoughtfully.
In 1969, when it was started, the symbolic first bucket of earth was taken out during the construction of the Kama Automobile Plant. The authorship of the legendary car belongs to the developers of the Likhachev Moscow Automobile Plant (ZIL). As a matter of fact, they originally designed a model for their enterprise under the name ZIL-170, but it never reached mass production. But the ideas developed in the process were embodied in KamAZ-4310. The novelty passed state tests in 1978, at the same time it was put into service – naturally, with the condition of eliminating the identified shortcomings.
What was the truck that was destined to become a faithful companion of our military for many years? A cabover cab became a signature KAMAZ feature: the engine was located under it. The 4310 was a real all-terrain vehicle: six wheels and permanent four-wheel drive, as well as a ground clearance of 365 mm, made it possible for it to go where the way was closed to other cars. 4310 took 30% rises without any problems and forced water obstacles up to one and a half meters deep. In case a car was caught in the convoy, which was incapable of boasting such qualities, this truck had a powerful winch. The phrase “pull out with KamAZ” was quite common in the Soviet Army (and not in it alone).
The carrying capacity of this car was 5 tons (despite the fact that its own curb weight reached 8 tons and a half), but in addition, the 4310 could easily transport a trailer of 10 tons on a relatively normal surface and up to 7 tons on complete off-road. In the variant for transporting personnel, the car was equipped with an iron body with a wooden covering and reclining benches, which could accommodate 30 servicemen. Above there was a tarpaulin awning with characteristic “bevels”. It should be noted that it was on the basis of this model that the domestic armored truck Typhoon-1 was subsequently created for transporting manpower, which was used in “hot spots” mainly by special forces fighters and proved to be quite worthy there.
The heart of the 4310 was an 11-liter, 210-horsepower, four-stroke, eight-cylinder diesel engine that could reach speeds of up to 85 kilometers per hour on a good road. True, he also ate more than 30 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers. At the same time, it was still possible to drive KamAZ for a long time and far – a considerable mileage was provided by two fuel tanks with a capacity of 125 liters each. A special feature was the tire pressure regulation system, thanks to which the driver, if necessary, could adjust his own wheels to the quality of the road or its complete absence. Naturally, the steering wheel was equipped with a hydraulic booster – otherwise, only Hercules could control such a colossus.
The KamAZ-4310 cab was almost the dream of an army driver (at least for those times): a three-seater, which had sound and heat insulation, equipped with a hatch, and had seat adjustment. For Soviet military equipment, whose creators never really bothered with soldiers’ comfort, the conditions are very good.
The development of technology, especially military technology, does not stand still. In 1990, the place 4310 in the army was taken by the next, more modern modification – KamAZ-5350. Be that as it may, but the first model of a military truck created at the Kama Automobile Plant turned out to be more than successful not only for its time, but also for the next several decades.