The birth of the product under the code "Jaguar" or UAZ-3907 was associated with the desire of the USSR Ministry of Defense in the early 70s to get a whole line of light amphibians at once. One of them was supposed to be the machine of the "River" project, which was discussed earlier in an article from the heading "Engineering troops and transport". This "waterfowl" was developed at the Volzhsky Automobile Plant and was, in fact, almost the only major defense project of the enterprise. At the same time, VAZ engineers received an order for the development of an amphibian based on Niva back in 1972, and a similar order for UAZ came only at the end of 1976. Although the concepts were similar - a floating car that feels confident both on the track and on heavy off-road, the weight categories were different. VAZ-2122 "Reka" took on board 4 people, while the terms of reference required the UAZ-3907 to accommodate 7 fighters. Yevgeny Kochnev in his book "Cars of the Soviet Army" even writes about the regular 11 passengers - although this is most likely a "record" achieved during the tests. It is noteworthy that both projects were initially carried out in an atmosphere of strict secrecy, and the developers from Ulyanovsk and Togliatti did not know about the existence of similar amphibians from each other. And when the meager rumors about the tests began to leak out, for a long time it was believed that the Ministry of Defense arranged a kind of competition between the factories for the best embodiment of the floating vehicle. As a result, as we know, none of these vehicles saw military service. And for civilian exploitation, the potential market, even taking into account entering the international scale (taking into account all compliance with all certification standards), could not recoup part of the development and production costs. Therefore, the machines of the projects "River" and "Jaguar" were intended exclusively for the military, only by-products could be amphibians for hunters and fishermen.
The official birthday of the floating UAZ can be considered December 16, 1976, when the Council of Ministers of the USSR, together with the Central Committee of the CPSU, passed Resolution No. 1043-361, which described in sufficient detail the requirements for the future amphibian. From the very beginning it was clear that the proven and rather reliable UAZ-469 (3151) platform would be adapted for the Jaguar. The "target audience" for the new items in the army was assigned to airborne assault units, reconnaissance of the marines, as well as special forces. In addition, it was planned to use the Jaguar as a command and control vehicle.
For such an amphibian, with its carrying capacity with a driver, about 600 kilograms of a standard UMZ-414 engine (75 hp) was not enough - an engine with a capacity of 90 to 100 hp was required. Work was already underway on this engine at the Ulyanovsk Motor Plant, it received the UMZ-421 index and in the early 80s had to get on the Jaguar for the first time. But all this remained in the plans - the amphibian in most of the produced copies was equipped with an outdated and weak 414 engine of 75 hp. with. In addition to the engine, the task described the requirements for the unification of the gearbox with other UAZ models and the development of a new transfer case.
"Jaguar" stands on its paws
Despite the beautiful name of the ROC "Jaguar", which refers us to both the South American predator and the legendary British company, the amphibian from Ulyanovsk turned out to be unprepossessing. Firstly, it looked much more like a boat on wheels than the Togliatti "River", which can also be called graceful at a stretch. This was dictated by the requirements for the buoyancy of a loaded vehicle and resistance to roughness on the water surface. The plans, as already mentioned above, were to equip marine units with a floating UAZ, which meant that the car could plow the coastal zone of the sea in waves of up to two points. Secondly, the appearance was spoiled by the long hood, which also worsened the driver's field of vision, and the short base of the UAZ-469, which is why the amphibian had impressive overhangs.
It is quite possible that due to its characteristic appearance, the machine would have received a fair nickname "Crocodile" in the army. And, by the way, "Jaguar" from the very beginning was not the official name of the UAZ amphibian - it was just an OKR code. If we are already talking about animals, then one cannot fail to mention the only developed modification of the amphibian under the index 39071, which was given the name "Baklan". It is not known whether this was the official name of the future production vehicle or simply the ROC code, but the amphibian was developed under the order of the KGB for the Border Troops. Then there was a bureaucratic delay that did not allow the development of the amphibian through one order - it was necessary to organize separate ROC from the Ministry of Defense and the KGB. "Cormorant" differed from "Jaguar" only in nuances of equipment - arches for six pairs of skis, radio stations "Aiva-A" and R-143-04, short-range reconnaissance radar 1RL-136, a cage for a service dog and mounts for RPK-74, AK -74 and night vision device 1PN-50. Since the work on the "Baklan" was organized later than the launch of the ROC "Jaguar", the amphibian received a more powerful engine of 92 liters. with.
The key feature of the UAZ-3907 is the propellers located just behind the front axle. This was a rather unusual layout decision, dictated primarily by concern for geometric cross-country ability. Two rather large four-blade propellers, and even with a water rudder in the tail, seriously complicated the descent of the amphibian into the water. Therefore, the screws were attached to a three-shaft power take-off, which also set in motion, according to one version, a pump for pumping out the seawater (again, with Evgeny Kochnev, one of the box shafts is responsible for driving the winch - this is most likely closer to the truth). On the first versions of the Jaguar, the water rudder was still present, but it was located in a very vulnerable place, which is why it often broke off. And at one of the moments of testing, the car with the missing steering wheel entered the water, but did not lose in the least in maneuverability. It turned out that the steering wheel turned synchronously with the wheels, through the arches of which the propellers drove streams of water, turning the amphibian's nose. This turned out to be quite enough, and it was decided to leave the "Jaguar" without the ship's rudders under the bottom. The result is a unique design that has not been tested anywhere else. By the way, the propellers made it possible to abandon special "waterfowl" wheels with developed lugs, which the VAZ engineers had to resort to when developing the "River" project.
I must say that for thirteen years of development (this, unfortunately, was a common practice in the development of technology in Soviet times), designers practically did not encounter difficulties during testing. In contrast to the Togliatti amphibian VAZ-2122, which for a long time annoyed with overheating of the engine, even the body had to be redrawn. On a floating UAZ, the problem of engine overheating was solved by turning the air flows back and forth. The fence was made at the folding windshield, and the exit was at the edge of the hood, which was also reclining and served as a wave reflector. The long hood of the amphibian, although it spoiled the appearance a little, made it possible to place the power unit more freely, providing space for cooling air flows. Togliatti "River" was deprived of such luxury. And the rest of the "Jaguar" was more adapted to water procedures - the speed afloat was up to 9 km / h versus 4 km / h for the VAZ-2122, and the resistance to waves made it possible to confidently sail along the windy Volga. During the tests, the UAZ-3907 passed with a crew along the great river from Ulyanovsk to Astrakhan, since the power reserve on water of 300 hours made it possible to do this. At the same time, the Jaguar was quite useful on land. It accelerated to 110 km / h, could tow a trailer up to 750 kg and lagged behind its ancestors, UAZ-469 and -3151, on the off-road.
Apart from the ability to swim, the Jaguar and Reka products have one more thing in common - none of them were adopted. In Ulyanovsk, only 14 cars were released, of which no more than 5-6 survived. UAZ did not even undertake, unlike VAZ, attempts to offer the amphibian to the civilian consumer. It turned out to be too military from the very beginning.