For many years, the Special Design Bureau of the Plant. I. A. Likhachev developed projects for ultra-high cross-country vehicles. The main customer of such machines was the Ministry of Defense, but from a certain time other departments began to play such a role. So, in the early sixties, SKB ZIL began cooperation with enterprises in the space industry. One of its most interesting results was the experienced ZIL-135Sh all-terrain vehicle.
By the mid-sixties, the Soviet space program faced certain logistical difficulties. The space rockets were built at the Progress plant in Kuibyshev (now Samara), after which they were delivered disassembled by rail to the Baikonur cosmodrome, where their final assembly and preparation for launch were carried out. As long as we were talking about launch vehicles based on the R-7 platform, such methods seemed acceptable. However, the development of the "lunar" rocket N-1, which was distinguished by its increased dimensions, was already underway. The delivery of its units to the cosmodrome was associated with serious problems.
A prototype ZIL-135Sh at the test site. Photo Russian-sila.rf
Considering alternatives to railway transport, OKB-1 specialists, headed by S. P. The Korolevs were offered an original option for the delivery of missile assemblies to Baikonur. It was proposed to build the steps in Kuibyshev, after which they were to be transported on a special barge along the Volga and the Caspian Sea to the city of Guryev (now Atyrau, Kazakhstan). There, the rocketry was planned to be loaded onto a special transport and delivered by land to the cosmodrome. To implement such a proposal, it was necessary to create a river barge and a land vehicle with acceptable characteristics. In the case of land transport, the task of the designers was complicated by the fact that individual units of the future N-1 could weigh at least 20-25 tons.
A group of OKB-1 engineers, headed by V. P. Petrov, they formed an approximate image of the future transporter and made several important proposals. So, to ensure acceptable mobility and maneuverability, the car needed orientable wheels of the type used on the nose landing gear of aircraft. At the same time, the desired characteristics of cross-country ability and mobility on the steppes of the Kazakh SSR could be obtained only with the use of wheels with a diameter of at least 1.5 m. With such a chassis, the future transporter could get acceptable dimensions and show the desired carrying capacity.
Model of the future full-size conveyor with payload. Photo Gruzovikpress.ru
Having formed an approximate appearance of the future rocketry transporter, OKB-1 started looking for a developer of a full-fledged project. Several domestic automobile factories had the necessary experience at once, but not all of them reacted with enthusiasm to the proposal of "space" designers. So, the NAMI Institute and the Minsk Automobile Plant did not dare to participate in such a complex project, which, moreover, did not take too much time to develop.
The situation was saved by SKB ZIL, headed by V. A. Grachev. At a meeting dedicated to the development of a new vehicle, he expressed his readiness to create a special machine capable of transporting cargo weighing up to 100 tons over rough terrain - four times the required load. Simple calculations showed that a promising all-terrain vehicle will be able to carry the entire second or third stage of the N-1 rocket. The larger and heavier first stage could be disassembled into just three sections.
Thus, to transport all the elements of the rocket to Baikonur, only five or six flights of the conveyor were needed, after which it was possible to begin assembling the rocket. In the case of rail transport, an entire echelon was required, and assembly would take much more time.
Schematic diagram of the experimental ZIL-135Sh. Figure Russian-sila.rf
Soon a number of documents appeared that officially gave the start to the new project. SKB ZIL was appointed the lead developer of the transporter for the space industry. The design of special electrical systems was entrusted to the SKB of the Moscow plant No. 467 named. F. E. Dzerzhinsky. OKB-1 undertook the preparation of technical specifications, coordination of work and administrative assistance.
At the beginning of 1967, several enterprises jointly shaped the appearance of the future transporter. It was proposed to build a machine with a cargo area of 10, 8x21, 1 m in size. The chassis was supposed to have an eight-axle structure with a 32x32 wheel arrangement. The wheels were proposed to be installed in pairs on swivel stands. Four such racks were placed in each corner of the hull. Due to this design of the chassis, it was possible to provide the highest maneuverability. The total mass would reach 80-100 tons with a payload of about the promised 100 tons.
Diagram of a motor-wheel with a DT-15M engine. Figure Os1.ru
It is obvious that the construction of an experimental transporter in full configuration did not make sense yet. Before developing a full-fledged project, it was proposed to create, build and test a prototype in a simplified configuration. From the point of view of the chassis, this machine was supposed to represent one-eighth of a full-size conveyor. With the help of the reduced composition of the equipment, it was possible to check the main ideas and solutions, as well as draw certain conclusions and make changes to the existing project.
It was proposed to create a prototype using ready-made components and assemblies. The main sources of components were to be all-terrain vehicles of the ZIL-135 family. For example, the electric transmission was based on the units of the ZIL-135E all-terrain vehicle. In this regard, the experimental vehicle was designated as ZIL-135SH ("Chassis"). The designation ZIL-135MSh is also found. It should be noted that some units were borrowed from the Il-18 aircraft, but this fact was not reflected in the name of the project.
Diagram of the hydropneumatic system of the machine. Figure Os1.ru
The ZIL-135SH project proposed the construction of a self-propelled laboratory of an unusual design, which has the most serious differences from other ultra-high cross-country vehicles. Special features were present both in the power plant or transmission, and in the design of the chassis. In particular, the latter was supposed to combine traditional units and elements of the future "space" transporter.
The prototype was based on a complex-shaped frame. Its front and back were rectangular. Between them, just behind the cockpit, were the longitudinal spars of the L-shaped profile. They were intended for the installation of special chassis elements. It was proposed to use the front overhang of the frame to install the cab, and elements of two power plants at once were placed in the rear of it. A body for the transportation of various goods or property was also located there.
The power plant ZIL-135Sh consisted of two ZIL-375Ya engines with a capacity of 375 hp each. The first engine was located on the rear frame assembly, in front of it. A second motor was placed at the rear of the platform, directly above the wheel axle. The front engine was connected to a 120 kW electric generator GET-120, which was the basis of the electric transmission. The second engine was equipped with a hydromechanical transmission connected to the rear drive axle. As conceived by the designers, the main engine was the front one, which was part of the gasoline-electric unit. The second motor was planned to be used in some situations to increase the overall power of the car.
Right wheel rack. Photo Os1.ru
The equipment was suspended on the L-shaped frame spars, which was the main element of the entire experimental project. On special vertical supports were placed two racks built on the basis of Il-18 aircraft units. There was a vertical strut that served as a hydropneumatic suspension shock absorber with a stroke of 450 mm. Electric drives were mounted on the side members, with the help of which the rack could rotate around a vertical axis, providing maneuvering. At the bottom of the struts was a pair of motor wheels.
Plant No. 476 has developed an original synchronous-tracking system for controlling the movements of the racks. The control system made it possible to rotate the rack at an angle of up to 90 ° to the right and to the left using two modes, according to the law of the steering trapezoid or parallelogram. It also provided for the possibility of steering within a sector with a width of 20 °. The mode of operation of the controls was chosen by the driver. The conversion of the steering wheel rotation into commands for the drives was carried out by a special analog device that received data from a number of sensors and issued signals for the actuators. Such algorithms were implemented for the first time in domestic practice.
A pair of motor wheels was mounted on a common support at the bottom of the rack. The hub of each of them housed a 15 kW DT-15M DC electric motor connected to a single-stage planetary gearbox. The wheels were equipped with 1200x500x580 mm tires with a developed tread. All four wheels of the front struts had a centralized pressure control system. Tire pressure varied within 1-3 kg / cm 2.
Rack rotation control system. Photo Os1.ru
Two two-wheel pivot struts were complemented by a rear axle to support the frame in the correct position. The dual-wheel axle was suspended from longitudinal springs. With the help of a hydromechanical transmission, the power of the "rear" engine was transmitted to the wheels of the rear axle.
Due to the special design of the chassis, the wheel formula of the ZIL-135Sh prototype can be described as 6x6 / 4 or 4x4 + 2x2. All six wheels of the car were leading, but the drive of the two rear wheels could be turned off. Of the 6 wheels, 4 were made steerable, and they turned together with their racks.
For some tests, the ZIL-135Sh prototype was equipped with hydraulic jacks. A couple of such devices were installed on the sides of the front of the frame, directly behind the cab. With the help of jacks, it was possible to hang out the front of the machine, changing the load on the wheels of the swivel struts.
Power point. In the center is the GET-120 generator, on the right is the ZIL-375 engine connected to the rear axle. Photo Os1.ru
The front overhang of the frame served as the basis for the cab, borrowed from the ZIL-135K car. It was a fiberglass unit with four seats and all-round visibility with large-area glazing. Due to the use of two autonomous power plants with different transmission options, the cabin received a special set of controls. An additional panel with controls for electrical systems, which was distinguished by its large size, had to be installed in front of the right workplace of the cab. Highly complex, this double helm station provided complete control over all systems.
A wide side body was installed above the engine compartment, formed by the rear part of the frame. A wooden loading platform with sides of medium height received arcs for installing an awning. Another arc was located behind the cockpit and made it possible to cover the side members with pivot struts with a tarpaulin. On the sides of the body there were doors with footrests for landing. According to reports, during the tests, the body was used to transport ballast and various material parts necessary for checking equipment.
The prototype ZIL-135Sh had a length of less than 9, 5 m. The width reached 3, 66 m, the height - 3, 1 m. The curb weight was 12, 9 tons. a front axle formed by a pair of two-wheel struts. The wheelbase of the prototype is 4.46 m. The track of the front "axle" in the centers of the struts was 2 m, in the centers of the outer wheels - about one and a half times more. Rear axle track - 1.79 m.
Electrical equipment control panel. Photo Gruzovikpress.ru
An experimental vehicle of a new type, which was a demonstrator of the main technology of the future "space" transporter, was built in the early summer of 1967 with the maximum use of ready-made components. At the end of June, the car was delivered to the training ground of the 21st Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense in Bronnitsy. Over the next few months, the prototype worked at the test site and showed its capabilities in conditions close to the steppes of the Kazakh SSR. High results were obtained, and all new machine units showed themselves well.
Moving along the highway, ZIL-135Sh accelerated to 60 km / h. Average speed on a good road was half that. On a dirt road and meadow it was possible to develop a speed of up to 20 km / h, on plowing - up to 10 km / h. During the tests, the car passed about 1000 km on different surfaces and soils. On all surfaces, including those with low load-bearing capacity, the all-terrain vehicle was confident. It was found that such a transporter will be able to perform its functions normally in the intended areas of operation.
One of the goals of the tests was to test the original automated wheel steering system of the front struts. For all its complexity and expected risks, such equipment coped with the tasks assigned to it. Automation correctly fulfilled the commands from the steering wheel and provided the required maneuvering in all conditions. When turning the steered wheels by 90 °, it was possible to obtain the minimum turning radius (along the outer wheel) at the level of 5.1 m. The machine actually turned around its rear axle.
ZIL-135SH demonstrates the ability to turn wheels by 90 °. Photo Denisovets.ru
Tests of the ZIL-135Sh prototype ended in success. All the main technologies of this project could be used to create a full-size conveyor for rocket technology. Even before the completion of the tests of the experienced all-terrain vehicle, development work was launched on the topic of a full-fledged transport vehicle. In the foreseeable future, SKB ZIL was supposed to prepare all the necessary documentation and start preparing for the construction of a prototype.
In parallel with the creation of a new transporter, the design of the "lunar" rocket N-1 was carried out. The new head of the space program, V. P. From a certain time Mishin began to doubt the need to deploy a new logistics system for the delivery of missiles to Baikonur. For all its advantages, the transportation of missile assemblies across semi-deserts and steppes was associated with serious difficulties and risks. In addition, the conveyor project turned out to be too expensive and complex in terms of production and subsequent operation.
At the end of 1967, shortly after the completion of the tests of the ZIL-135Sh prototype, a fundamental decision was made to abandon new vehicles of an unusual type. OKB-1 canceled an order for the creation of a special eight-axle conveyor. Elements of missiles were still proposed to be transported by rail. This is how they ultimately ensured the delivery of N-1 missile assemblies.
The breadboard rotates around its own axis. Photo Russian-sila.rf
After the completion of the tests and the closure of the project, the only prototype of the ZIL-135Sh was probably sent for storage. His further fate is unknown. There is currently no information about its existence. Perhaps at some point it was disassembled as unnecessary. In domestic museums, there are several unique experimental all-terrain vehicles developed by the SKB of the Plant im. Likhachev, but the ZIL-135Sh car is not among them.
By the time the work was stopped, the project of the full-size transporter had not been completed. Later, in the mid-seventies, the question of creating a super-heavy transporter for rocket and space technology arose again, but then the task of transporting large loads was decided to be entrusted to specially equipped aircraft. The developments on special land landing gear again failed to come close to practical use.
The original prototype met the expectations, but the customer decided to abandon the main project of the super-heavy conveyor. As a result, the ZIL-135Sh theme was not developed, and the developments on it actually remained unclaimed. However, this car has left behind several interesting titles. The prototype ZIL-135SH remained in history as one of the most interesting prototypes in the history of the domestic automotive industry. In addition, it was the last eight-wheeled all-terrain vehicle under the ZIL brand. All the following cross-country vehicles from SKB ZIL were equipped with a three-axle chassis.