Special design bureau of the automobile plant named after I. A. Likhacheva initially developed a high cross-country vehicle only in the interests of the army. Later, other structures, including the space industry, became interested in similar projects. The leadership of the latter initiated the development of special all-terrain vehicles capable of finding the landed astronauts, evacuating them, and also picking up their spacecraft. The first representative of such a line of special equipment was the PES-1 machine.
During the first years of development, Soviet manned astronautics had certain problems with the search and evacuation of landed crews. The search for the landing site was carried out using airplanes and helicopters with appropriate radio equipment, after which the existing vehicles with rescuers, doctors, engineers, etc., had to arrive in a given area. Such a set of measures met the basic requirements, but was not devoid of drawbacks. So, in the landing areas, there was often bad weather, and the landing of cosmonauts in a hard-to-reach area could seriously complicate the work of rescuers.
PES-1 car in the museum. Photo of the State Military Technical Museum / gvtm.ru
At the end of 1964, the general designer of rocket and space systems S. P. Korolev made a proposal to create special ultra-high cross-country vehicles capable of finding and picking up astronauts regardless of the weather and landing site. Soon this proposal turned into a task for the Special Design Bureau of the Plant im. Likhachev (SKB ZIL), headed by V. A. Grachev. In December, the Air Force command approved the requirements for a new life-saving device, and the terms of reference were soon drawn up. By the beginning of the spring of 1965, specialists from SKB ZIL began designing a promising machine.
Long before the completion of the development work, the practice confirmed the need for a new all-terrain vehicle. On March 19, 1965, the Voskhod-2 spacecraft with a failed landing system landed at a considerable distance from the calculated area. Cosmonauts P. I. Belyaev and A. A. Leonov had to wait two days for help in a remote taiga area. Fortunately, they were found and taken out "to the mainland" by rescue aircraft. This incident showed how useful an all-terrain rescue vehicle could be.
According to known data, the new "space" project of SKB ZIL received two names. The designation ZIL-132K appeared in the factory documentation, indicating the use of some solutions of an already developed project. At the same time, the official name of PES-1 was used - "Search and evacuation installation, the first model". Subsequently, the factory name was forgotten, and almost always the special machine is referred to as PES-1.
The scheme of the all-terrain vehicle. Drawing of the State Military Technical Museum / gvtm.ru
In accordance with the new ideas of S. P. Korolyov and his colleagues, the search for the descent vehicle still had to be carried out by aviation. After identifying the approximate landing area, it was proposed to deliver the PES-1 all-terrain vehicle to the place of work. In this regard, the latter, in terms of its dimensions and weight, had to fit into the limitations of the cargo cabins of the An-12 aircraft and the Mi-6 helicopter. The car had to move on land and water. It was necessary to ensure the possibility of transporting people and cargo in the form of a descent vehicle. On board the all-terrain vehicle, it was necessary to carry a large number of various rescue equipment.
The creation of a search and evacuation installation with specific characteristics and appearance was not the easiest thing, but the designers of SKB ZIL successfully coped with it. Having solid experience in the design and construction of all-terrain vehicles with different capabilities, the design bureau was able to form the optimal version of an all-terrain vehicle that fully meets the technical specifications. To solve the assigned tasks, it was necessary to use some ready-made ideas, but this required the elaboration of a number of new proposals.
The result of the work of V. A. Grachev and his colleagues became a three-axle all-wheel drive vehicle with a displacement sealed body of a recognizable look. On board the PES-1, a variety of devices and devices with different functions were to be present. So, the rescue vehicle needed special radio navigation equipment, and to work with the descent vehicles, it needed its own crane and a special support device.
Front of the case with open covers. In the background you can see the unfolded cockpit cover, in the front - the cover of the equipment compartment. Photo Os1.ru
For the first time in domestic practice, a large-sized welded aluminum frame was used in the ZIL-132K project. The frame was assembled from a set of longitudinal and transverse metal profiles, connected with gussets. An X-shaped brace was provided in the central part of the frame, which allowed it to withstand heavy loads. The frame development process required the creation and implementation of new technologies for assembling large-sized loaded aluminum structures.
Outside, the aluminum frame was covered with a fiberglass body. It was made in the form of a large elongation bath unit with a characteristic rounded front part and vertical sides. The latter had large arches, due to which the wheels did not go beyond the hull. At the rear, the fiberglass tub had a vertical stern sheet. There were several units on top of the body. In the front of the machine, a cover for the radio equipment compartment with several hatches was provided; behind it, a hinged cab cover was provided. Behind the cab there was a level platform for the crane, and in the stern there was a relatively deep body for the descent vehicle.
Due to the special tasks and specific distribution of loads, the PES-1 received an appropriate layout. In the front of the hull there was a compartment for radio navigation devices, with the help of which it was proposed to balance the heavy load in the stern. A fairly large cabin was placed immediately behind it. Behind the cockpit, it was planned to install an engine and some transmission devices. In connection with the use of an all-wheel drive chassis, large volumes had to be given for the transmission in the lower part of the hull.
The all-terrain vehicle received a ZIL-375Ya gasoline engine with a capacity of 180 hp. Due to the dense layout, it was possible to place all the necessary devices in a small engine compartment, including a 365-liter fuel tank. The muffler of the exhaust system was brought to the roof-deck of the hull. A transmission with an onboard power distribution, built on the basis of hydromechanical and mechanical devices, was connected to the engine. Some of its units were borrowed from the ZIL-135L army vehicle.
All-terrain vehicle PES-1 on tests. Photo Os1.ru
A torque converter was connected to the engine, followed by an automatic transmission. Then the torque fell on the transfer case, which distributed it between the wheels of the two sides and the water cannon. The shafts from the transfer case went to the middle and rear wheels of each side and were connected to gearboxes. With the help of several propeller shafts, the power went from the center axle to the front. Each wheel received an angular and spur gearbox. To increase the buoyancy, the cavities of the gearboxes could be blown with air.
The all-terrain vehicle was equipped with a three-axle chassis with large-diameter wheels with a combined suspension. The front and rear axles received independent torsion bar suspension, and the middle wheels were rigidly mounted. Initially, it was planned to use Y-175 tractor tires with a diameter of 1523 mm and a width of 420 mm, but due to their original purpose, such products could not withstand loads during high-speed driving. The problem was solved with the help of the Research Institute of the Tire Industry and the Dnepropetrovsk Tire Plant. By the joint efforts of the three organizations, new ID-15 tires were created with the required dimension and the desired resource. PES-1 wheels received a centralized tire pressure regulation system. The first and third axles were made steerable.
In the aft part of the hull there was a water jet propulsion unit. The intake window of this device was placed in the bottom. A stream of water was thrown out through an oval window in the stern part. Thrust vector control was carried out using two steering blades placed inside the body.
In front of the hull there was a four-seater cockpit. The driver and rescuers or astronauts were seated on folding seats of the simplest design. It was suggested to get into the car in an unusual way. The cockpit had no doors, but its upper dome, located above the level of the roof-deck of the hull, could be completely folded up and back. In addition, a pair of hatches were provided in its roof. The advanced glazing of the cockpit provided all-round visibility. The crew had all the necessary controls. So, the driver could control the operation of the chassis, and other crew members had to use radio navigation equipment and other devices.
Climbing a steep slope. Photo Os1.ru
To communicate with the base, other rescuers or cosmonauts, the search and evacuation unit carried a pair of R-855U radio stations. In addition, for work in hard-to-reach and remote areas, the car was equipped with navigation equipment. With its help, the crew could track their location, as well as go to a given point. The maximum radial error during navigation did not exceed 6% of the distance traveled.
In accordance with the customer's requirements, PES-1 had to evacuate not only the astronauts, but also their descent vehicle. To load it on board, the all-terrain vehicle received a crane. Above the engine compartment, a reinforced base was placed for a slewing ring with a crane boom. The latter was made in the form of a metal truss with a hoist due to the cables of the winch. The reach of the boom reached 4, 9 m, it was possible to lift it to an angle of up to 75 °. Maximum lifting capacity - 3 tons. The crane was operated by an electric winch of the LPG-GO type with two drums. The first was responsible for the cables that control the position of the boom, while the cable was extended for the second to lift the load. The crane was controlled by a remote wired remote control.
The aft part of the hull was given under the lodgement for the installation of the descent vehicle. The spacecraft was proposed to be installed vertically on a supporting part of the required shapes and sizes. On the cargo platform, it was possible to install several types of lodgements, designed for different descent vehicles. On top of the load, a mooring ring with a set of guy wires should be put on. To facilitate loading and unloading, part of the rear side of the hull was hinged.
PES-1 with a descent vehicle. Photo of the State Military Technical Museum / gvtm.ru
In case of work with the descent vehicle on the water, the left side of the hull received a mooring circle. Before mooring, it was proposed to put on a special inflatable belt on the device. The towing of the moored descent vehicle was allowed with waves no more than 1 m high.
In the PES-1 case, there were boxes for transporting a variety of additional equipment. An inflatable boat, towing ropes, a trench tool, a fire extinguisher, etc. were kept on board the car. It also provided for the transportation of a first-aid kit with the necessary set of equipment and medicines.
For the serial all-terrain vehicles of the new model, a special paint has been developed. The lower part of the hull, up to the conditional waterline, was painted in a red tint. The rest of the sides, up to the roof-deck, were ivory. It was proposed to make the deck and the cockpit cap bright orange. This color of PES-1 provided high visibility in different landscapes. The car could easily be seen both from the air and from the ground or from the water.
The special-purpose vehicle had not the smallest dimensions. The length of the all-terrain vehicle reached 8, 4 m (taking into account the crane in the stowed position - 9, 62 m), width - 2, 58 m, height - 2, 5 m (with a crane - 3, 7 m). The wheelbase is 5 m with an inter-wheel spacing of 2.5 m. The track is 2, 15 m. The curb weight of the PES-1 / ZIL-132K was determined at the level of 8, 17 tons. The carrying capacity was 3 tons. The total weight was 11, 72 tons. On the highway, the all-terrain vehicle could reach speeds of up to 68 km / h. The water cannon provided acceleration to 7-7.5 km / h. The fuel range was 560 km.
Cosmonauts are studying a new search and evacuation installation, 1966 Photo of the State Military Technical Museum / gvtm.ru
The three-axle chassis with large-diameter wheels ensured high cross-country ability on all surfaces and landscapes. With a load, the all-terrain vehicle could climb a slope with a steepness of 30 ° and move with a roll of up to 22 °. The minimum turning radius provided by a pair of controlled axles did not exceed 10 m.
The designers of SKB ZIL managed to successfully solve the assigned tasks, but it took a lot of time. The first prototype of the ZIL-132K / PES-1 machine was built only in the summer of 1966 - about a year and a half after receiving the corresponding assignment. The prototype was immediately sent to factory tests. Then it was shown to representatives of the space industry. Among others, the cosmonauts Yu. A. Gagarin and A. A. Leonov. The customer's representatives praised the new all-terrain vehicle.
In 1967, the Plant named after. Likhachev built a second experimental search and evacuation unit. By this time, most of the project's shortcomings had been eliminated, and both prototypes were soon released for state testing. The checks of two PES-1s were carried out at different test sites and routes in different regions of the Soviet Union. The technique was tested in virtually all conditions in which it could fall during further service. In all cases, all-terrain vehicles performed well and confirmed the calculated characteristics.
All-terrain vehicle PES-1M "Salon". Photo of the State Military Technical Museum / gvtm.ru
In the following 1968, ZIL handed over to the Air Force a pilot batch of five new-built special vehicles. For some time, the search and rescue units of the Air Force studied and mastered new technology. In August 1969, an order appeared, according to which PES-1 was accepted for supply to the armed forces. Now the new technology - both already built and planned for order - was to become a full-fledged element of the cosmonaut search and evacuation system.
Rescue vehicles PES-1 were the most important element of the space program, but it was not planned to build them in a large series. For several years, only 13 of these machines were manufactured, including two prototypes. Despite the not too large number, such all-terrain vehicles actively participated in providing space flights and made a significant contribution to the development of near-earth space.
By the early seventies, the space industry had formed new requirements for special equipment. The size of the spacecraft gradually grew, the number of the crew increased. The increase in flight duration led to the need for special assistance. The existing PES-1 could not fully cope with the new tasks in the context of the rescue of astronauts.
Passenger car, rear view. Photo Os1.ru
In 1972, SKB ZIL developed a new version of the search and evacuation unit called PES-1M. The modernization project involved the removal of the crane and stern bed. Instead, a fiberglass insulated cabin with space for astronauts, doctors, etc. was placed on the hull. The new large cab took up more than half the total length of the vehicle, but did not increase its height. The installation of a new cab led to the need to add some other units.
The fiberglass cabin of the new design received several side windows, upper hatches and an aft landing door. Due to the high chassis height, there was a folding ladder next to the door. There were hatches in the floor for access to the transmission units. Three single seats were placed in the passenger cabin. Six more seats had a two-seater design and could be given for the installation of a stretcher. Three wardrobes were installed for the transportation of various property, a table with a drawer, etc. The crew had a washstand, fire extinguishers, artificial respiration apparatus, drip kits, various medicines and other equipment at the disposal of the crew.
It was proposed to equip the passenger cabin with ventilation and heating means. An autonomous heater, running on gasoline, was responsible for heating. For its operation, it was necessary to provide an additional fuel tank with a capacity of 110 liters. If necessary, this capacity was connected to the car's fuel system, which increased the cruising range to 700 km.
After the necessary tests, the PES-1M search and evacuation unit was accepted for supply. The corresponding order appeared in 1974. Over the next few years, the development plant built and handed over to the Air Force six of these machines. It is known that soon after the appearance of a new special vehicle, the PES-1 family received unofficial nicknames. The base all-terrain vehicle was nicknamed "Crane", and the passenger modification was designated as "Salon".
A descent vehicle of the Yantar-2 type, which was proposed to be transported on PES-1B vehicles. Photo Wikimedia Commons
Quite quickly, practice showed the full potential of the updated search and rescue complex. Working together, PES-1 and PES-1M showed outstanding results. Two machines could quickly solve the problem of finding the landed astronauts and start evacuating them. The "Salon" could take the cosmonauts on board and, without waiting for the completion of work with the descent vehicle, return back. At the same time, unlike the base Crane, it transported astronauts in comfortable conditions.
In 1974, a new piece of technology was created, which appeared thanks to progress in the field of spacecraft. New reconnaissance satellites of the Yantar project were being prepared for operation. Their descent vehicle, which delivered films with images of specified territories to Earth, differed from existing products in a kind of large size. The existing PES-1 machines could not be used with such devices.
To solve this problem, a PES-1B machine was developed. It differed from the basic sample only in the design of the crane and the cradle. The boom of the crane was extended to 5.5 m, and the support for the descent vehicle was redesigned in accordance with the requirements of the new payload. The operation of such equipment began in 1977. Satellites of the Yantar series were planned to be built in large series and launched frequently, but the Air Force ordered only three all-terrain vehicles to work with them.
Serial production of special machines of the PES-1 family continued until 1979. During this time, only 22 all-terrain vehicles with various equipment were built. The most massive version was the basic "Crane" - 13 units. The number of "Salons" was almost two times less - only 6 pieces. Three PES-1B with an extended crane boom were the last to leave the assembly shop.
PES-1 in a museum near Moscow. Photo of the State Military Technical Museum / gvtm.ru
The active operation of the equipment of the PES-1 family continued until the first half of the eighties. During this period, SKB Zavod im. Likhachev developed and brought to serial production new samples of special machines for space launches. These vehicles became part of the PEC-490 search and evacuation complex. Later they came up with the common nickname "Blue Bird". In addition, other projects were developed, both with a focus on practical application and of an experimental nature. For example, the prototype PES-1R differed from the base machines by the presence of an additional reactive power plant designed to increase cross-country ability.
Search and evacuation units of the PES-1 family were not massive, and in addition, they were decommissioned a long time ago. Over the past decades, almost all of these machines have been scrapped. Fortunately, some of the most interesting off-road vehicles escaped this fate. Thus, in the State Military-Technical Museum (Ivanovskoye village, Moscow region) there is a restored sample of the PES-1 machine of the "Crane" type. This unique exhibit is shown together with other interesting developments of SKB ZIL.
The development of manned astronautics led to the emergence of new requirements for ground systems. Among other examples of the industry, special machines were required that could find and take out cosmonauts and their descent vehicle from a hard-to-reach area. Already in the mid-sixties, this task was successfully solved. The PES-1 complex became the first example of its kind in our country. Later, on the basis of his ideas and solutions, new samples of a similar purpose were created, which still provide a quick and safe return of astronauts home.