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If you enter ZIL-131 in the search bar of any Internet browser, then after three or four photos of an ordinary flatbed truck, you will definitely find a car with a "universal body of normal dimensions" (KUNG). Initially, similar bodies were mounted on ZILs from their predecessor with the index 157, but since the mid-60s, the inhabited K-131 and KM-131 went into the series (developed by the 38th experimental plant). In modern terms, these were production modules that could be mounted both on trucks and trailers. The main task of the kungs was to provide more or less tolerable living and working conditions for several crew members in difficult climatic conditions. The range of working "outboard" temperatures was 1000 C (from +50 to -50), and the maximum height above sea level, where the ZIL-131 with such a body could climb, is more than 4.5 km. Naturally, the module was protected from radioactive dust by filtering units of the FVUA series, heaters of the type OV were located for heating above the cab, and the panels of the sealed body were sandwiches made of aluminum, plywood and reinforced foam.
It is interesting that, in addition to the 38th plant, the development of modifications of kungs was carried out in the body department of the All-Union (now All-Russian) Design and Technological Institute of Furniture, which belonged to the Ministry of Forestry and Woodworking Industry of the USSR. In many ways, it was a mobile home, which was not made for civilians in the Soviet Union, capable of protecting residents from the consequences of a nuclear or chemical war for a while. It is absolutely impossible to write about how many modifications the vans of the K-131 and KM-131 type have survived over 40 years of production, what equipment was installed in them and where they were produced, since the format of the article will go into a book chapter in terms of volume. I will only mention that kungs became the basis for the equipment of radio operators, anti-aircraft gunners, and, of course, army engineers with repairmen. The systems of mobile auto repair shops PARM included ZIL-131 with maintenance workshops MTO-70 and MTO-80, which over time acquired many narrow specialties. For example, MTO-4OS was intended for the repair of heavy 4-axle equipment, and artillerymen and tankers were supposed to, respectively, MTO-AR and MTO-BT.
Among the exotic, one can single out the MES machine, which is used to repair electrical, infrared and navigation equipment of armored forces. In the PARM complexes there were also traditional onboard ZIL-131 with two-axle trailers PT-1 and PT-2, which received the common name AT-1. In general, the ZIL-131 became the base for countless repair vehicles engaged in the restoration of the entire gamut of weapons of the Soviet army without exception.
The ZIL-131 carrying capacity class made it possible to accommodate sufficiently voluminous fuel tanks, the largest of which was the ATZ-4, 4-131 machine, which included 4400 liters of diesel fuel, kerosene or gasoline. In total, such a tank on wheels made it possible to simultaneously serve four consumers. Related functions of the RChBZ machine, only in tanks such ZIL-131s had liquids for degassing, decontamination and disinfection. It is noteworthy that many of the bodies were manufactured at enterprises subordinate to the Ministry of Health. For the chemical protection troops, they produced a washing and neutralizing 8T311M, a disinfection and shower DDA-3, an ARS-14 auto-filling and an AGV-3U degassing and air complex based on four ZIL-131s at once.
In the material "Kapotny ZIL-131: history and the search for the ideal", experimental samples of equipment based on the ZIL-131 have already been mentioned, but a few touches are missing to complete the picture.
Perhaps one of the few combat arms where the 131st received limited use was the engineering troops. This was largely due to the relatively small cargo platform and moderate carrying capacity. Still, military engineers needed more serious equipment, so many ZIL-131 did not leave the category of experienced ones. Such was the 38M2 light vehicle tow truck, capable of pulling a faulty UAZ vehicle in a semi-submerged state. But about one interesting experiment it is worth telling in more detail. In 1969, the secret program "Development of attachments for automobile equipment for excavating pits and self-digging of a single car" was launched, which was simultaneously supervised by the ministries of defense and the automotive industry. In the same year, the ZIL plant manufactured three prototypes, which received the code "Perimeter".
On such ZIL-131, a bulldozer-type knife was attached to the rear frame, which differed in thickness on three machines: 10, 12 and 14 mm. A hydraulic system was provided for lifting and lowering the blade. Naturally, this whole structure weighed a lot and immediately reduced the carrying capacity of the machine by half a ton. The design feature was a rubberized apron, which was attached to the knife. The mechanics of the "Perimeter" operation were as follows: the knife was lowered to the ground, and the machine slowly moved forward, scraping off the top layer of soil, which, in turn, ended up on the apron dragging behind the ZIL. When the necessary layer was removed, the driver lifted the knife, and with it the apron, thereby shaking off the collected soil. Tests on the basis of the Engineering Central Research Institute No. 15 showed that the car, of course, was original, but its transmission was not adapted to such heavy loads and often failed. At the same time, the ZIL-131P "Perimeter" had to work not only for self-digging, but also on creating shelters for armored vehicles and artillery. An analysis of the available literature on this project indicates a high level of secrecy of the development (or perhaps oblivion): the authors give different test dates, and photographs of the car are still not easy to find.
Also, without the prospect of mass production, the ZIL-131G machine, developed in 1968 for combat work in contaminated terrain, remained. The difficulties in this project began, of course, with the sealing of the truck cab - it was not easy to protect the actually civilian model from dust and gases. All openings were covered with harmonic covers, and the opening parts were additionally equipped with rubber seals. The welds were coated with sealants. They had to abandon the lowered glasses - removable window shields were in their place, and to maintain the excess pressure, it was supposed to install an FVU-75 filtering machine.
The metal semi-floating bridge "Prolet", the installation of which was planned to be a few centimeters below the water level, was supposed to move to the base of the ZIL-131 machines at the end of the 60s. It was accepted into service, and there were 42 trucks in the fleet, but the complexity and high cost of manufacturing put an end to the army's prospects for technology. The theme of the crossing is associated with the ZIL-131 of the KMS model (a complex of bridge-building means), which transported behind the cabin one of the five parts of the pile-driving pontoon of the heavy CCI fleet. In combat conditions, the crew of the ferry (and this is 47 people) brought the equipment into working condition in 15-20 minutes and erected piles on a water body at a speed of 3-5 pieces per hour.
Now a little about the civil experiments of the Likhachev Plant. The most paradoxical car of the ZIL-131 series was … ZIL-133. Firstly, it is not clear why the dump truck suddenly had an index of 133, and, secondly, the very concept of a dump truck lifting its body a few meters upwards already raises questions. Despite the fact that the base of an all-wheel drive truck was used, the front axle was devoid of a propeller shaft, and the machine itself received the tricky name "dump truck with a preliminary lifting of the platform." It is not known what the ZIL engineers thought about at the beginning of the 60s when they declared a carrying capacity of 7 tons for such a machine at once! Imagine how much the center of gravity of a car tipping a full body into a railway carriage rises - a couple of awkward movements are enough to overwhelm the entire truck. This, in general, was the reason for writing off the development as unsuccessful.
In 1971, an experienced timber carrier ZIL-131L with a dismantling trailer GKB-E9335, which differs from serial machines in a power take-off for the winch drive, entered the Konakovsky forestry for testing. The truck was supposed to be loaded with five to seven tons of timber, which turned out to be too heavy for an experimental trailer. He constantly broke down and demanded reinforcement of the structure. And the ZIL-131 itself, to be honest, was rather weak for such work. Therefore, the topic under the L index was left, and a solution was found in increasing the production of Minsk timber trucks based on MAZ-509.
With weapons behind the cockpit
To understand how ancient the ZIL-131 is, just imagine that a version of the legendary “Katyusha” BM-12NMM was installed on its base. This happened in 1966, and until the beginning of the 90s, the rocket launcher was used in the army as a means of zeroing in training regiments. This was the last modification of the legendary weapon of Victory. Later on the ZIL-131 appeared the usual "Grads" with 36 guides, which, however, did not receive much distribution in the army. Still, the platform of the heavy "Ural" was stronger and better withstood salvo overloads.
Another path of the ZIL-131 in the Soviet Army was the transportation of missiles for numerous air defense systems - S-125M "Neva-M", S-75M3 "Volkhov", 2K12 "Kub-M1" and their modifications.
From Afghanistan, the trend began to install the 23-mm automatic cannon ZU-23-2 on the chassis, which received a new breath in Chechnya, Ukraine and in many local conflicts in the Middle East. But the real miracle was shown in 2016 by Ukrainian engineers, dressing an old ZIL-131 in a steel shell. This is how the MRAP "Warta 6x6" was born with all the attributes of a modern armored vehicle - a V-shaped bottom and explosion-proof seats for 12 passengers and 2 crew members. Nothing is known about the further fate of the development, most likely it remained in a single copy.
Even in a series of articles, it is impossible to tell in detail about all the nuances of the history of the legendary hood ZIL-131. Firefighting equipment, mobile kitchens, bread deliveries and much more remained outside the framework. The 131st car is gradually disappearing into history, and with it the memory of the once great Likhachev automobile plant, which, at the end of the car's career, made timid attempts to create a successor.