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Since 1987, the KMDB, according to the order of the Ministry of Defence Industry of the USSR No. 328 of May 27, 1987 included Department No.61 of the Industrial Association Malyshev Plant - the design bureau for designing heavy full tracked prime movers and engineer vehicles on their basis. Thus, the KMDB became an enterprise engaged in designing not only main battle tanks, but an full range of military tracked vehicles.

Development of prime movers at the Kharkiv Locomotive Plant has its glorious history. It also began in 1924, when production of the Kommunar track-laying tractor was started, the German Hanomag tractor having been chosen as a prototype. This tractor was used by the Red Army for towing heavy artillery systems. For servicing and manufacturing such vehicles, a design team was singled out from the Kharkiv Locomotive Plant's technical office, which later on, when the tank production facility was separated, continued to improve tractors. As the Kommunar tractor became obsolete by the early 1930s and did not meet the requirements of the Red Army as to power and speed of artillery system towing, then by the order of the Supreme Artillery Office the Kharkiv Locomotive Plant's designers headed by B.N. Voronkov started to design a prime mover designated the Komintern. For unification purposes the prime mover design was based on the assemblies of the T-24 tank. The prototypes built in 1931 revealed that the prime mover designed according to the tractor scheme gave no advantage over its predecessor.

The design drawbacks were eliminated under the leadership of N.G. Zubarev. The prime mover layout was considerably changed. It received a closed cabin and a cargo platform, and for the first time in the national practice a power winch was mounted on it. The tests showed clearly that on the whole the vehicle met the requirements as to towing artillery systems of 152 mm calibre, and series production of these vehicles commenced in 1935. Total production of the Komintern amounted to 2,000 vehicles, which were widely used in the army and national economy well into the late 1940s.

 

Voroshilovets artillery tractor during trials

Artillery systems of 203-305 mm calibre were accepted for service and therefore there emerged a need for a prime mover with a higher towing force than that of the Komintern prime mover.

The designing of such vehicle at the Kharkiv Locomotive Plant commenced in 1935, and it was designated the Voroshilovets. The first two prime movers were built in 1936. The layout was identical to that of the Komintern prime mover, but the new prime mover featured an enhanced transmission, running gear, winch, and, beginning with 1938, the V-2V diesel engine (a variant of the tank engine) was installed in it. Series production commenced in the same year.

In 1940 the prime mover together with two first tanks of the T-34 type made a run as a technical support under hard winter conditions from Kharkiv to Moscow and back. Throughout the Second World War the prime mover was effectively used at all the fronts and took part in the Victory Parade in Moscow. Total production of the Voroshilovets was about 1,200 vehicles.

 

 

AT-42 artillery tractor

Prime Movers

B.N. Voronkov (in the centre)

 

Assembling the first Komintern artilery tractor

 

N.G. Zubarev

After the evacuation of the Kharkiv Locomotive Plant in 1941 from Kharkiv to Nizhnyi Tagil the designers of prime mover were included into the Tank Design Bureau and were dealing with issues of tank series production. However, in the war years they also designed the AT-42 and AT-45 prime movers on the basis of the T-34 tank at the Plant No. 183. Work on the next generation of prime movers could be started only after the war, when the Kharkiv Locomotive Plant was restored at its initial place. In 1944 a test batch of the AT-45 was manufactured there, but as the plant started to manufacture the T-44 tank, the work on this prime mover ceased. When in 1946 production of the T-54 tank began, the designers headed by M.N. Shchukin and A.I. Avtomonov started to design a prime mover called the Izdeliye 401 (Product 401) on the basis of this tank. This work was ordered by the GAU and the TsVTU. The prime mover successfully completed a series of trials and in 1953 first series production examples of the AT-T (artillery prime mover, heavy) were manufactured.

 

 

Trials of the AT-45 artillery tractor

The army needed a vehicle of such class, and the plant manufactured them in the 1950s in larger quantities than tanks. The AT-T was universally adopted and continually modified. Together with other enterprises, on its basis were created: BAT-1 (Izdeliye 405U (Product 405U)) and BAT-1M (Izdeliye 405MU) track-layers, air defence control post (Izdeliye 426), army ditching machine (Izdeliye 409). As to the cross-country capabilities under severe conditions the AT-T prime mover had no match among wheeled or tracked vehicles, which made it possible to create on its basis a special artillery tractor for transporting loads and towing sledge trailers at low temperatures in the regions of the Far North and Antarctica (Izdeliye 401A and Izdeliye 403 A, B) and vehicles for transantarctic runs deep into the continent.

M.N. Shchukin
Chief Designer of  Plant  № 75 in 1944-1949
A.I. Avtomonov
Chief Designer of  Department 61 in 1954-1965

 

In 1979 the AT-T was replaced by the MT-T prime mover (multipurpose carrier prime mover,  also referred to as the Izdeliye 429AM). Its designing started under the leadership of A.D. Motrich and then of M.P. Kalugin and was caused by the fact that the new generation of tanks that entered service with the Army, required creation of engineer vehicles capable to interact with them. In the 1980s on the basis of this vehicle, under the leadership of P.I. Sagir, the following vehicles were developed and put into series production: BAT-2 track-layer (Izdeliye 454), MDK excavating machine (Izdeliye 453) and (after 1990, within the framework of civilian conversion efforts) KGS-25 self-propelling crane and BG-1 bulldozer.

MT-T artillery tractor tows a heavy cannon
MDK excating machine in operation

A.D. Motrich
Chief Designer of  Department 61 in 1965-1970
M.P. Kalugin
Chief Designer of  Department 61 in 1970-1974

 

P.I. Sagir
Chief Designer of  Department 61 in 1974-1987

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