Experienced all-terrain vehicle ZIL-157E

Experienced all-terrain vehicle ZIL-157E
Experienced all-terrain vehicle ZIL-157E

By the beginning of the sixties, the Special Design Bureau of the Plant. I. A. Likhachev completed the main work on the ZIL-135 family of all-terrain vehicles. The finished equipment went into series and became the basis for several special army vehicles. Soon there was a proposal to create a new all-terrain vehicle with an electric transmission. Working on this issue, SKB ZIL created several prototypes. The first of them is known under the unofficial name ZIL-157E.

On July 15, 1963, the Council of Ministers of the USSR decided to start developing a promising ultra-high cross-country wheeled vehicle equipped with an electric transmission. It was planned to involve various organizations in the automotive and electrical industries in the creation of such a model. The leading role in the new program was to be played by SKB ZIL, headed by V. A. Grachev. This design organization had extensive experience in the field of all-terrain vehicles, and also had experience in the field of electric transmission.

In August of the same year, SKB ZIL formed technical requirements for the future prototype. A. I. was appointed the lead designer of the new project. Filippov. It was decided to entrust the development of electrical devices for the all-terrain vehicle to the State Experimental Plant No. 476 named after FE Dzerzhinsky (later renamed the Moscow Aggregate Plant "Dzerzhinets"). The leading designer of the new transmission was V. D. Zharkov. The promising project received the official designation ZIL-135E.


Experienced all-terrain vehicle ZIL-157E on trials

It should be recalled that by this time SKB ZIL managed to complete work on the so-called. helicopter launcher 9P116 for the airmobile operational-tactical missile system 9K74 / Mi-10RVK. This machine was actually built around a cylindrical rocket container and was therefore equipped with an electric transmission. The motor-wheels of the launcher were supposed to receive electricity via a cable from the carrier helicopter. Some developments on the unusual product 9P116 were planned to be used in new projects. Moreover, some of its components were to be transferred to the new machines.

Before starting the development of a full-size all-terrain vehicle, it was decided to test the electric transmission on a smaller mock-up model, built on the basis of a serial truck. In the early summer of 1964, SKB ZIL began designing a similar prototype electric ship, the basis for which was the ZIL-157 truck. It is curious that the first prototype with electrical units never received an official designation. He remained in history under the unofficial name ZIL-157E, which can lead to confusion. The fact is that the letter "E" also denoted the export version of the serial ZIL-157 truck.

As part of the "trial" project, the engineers of the Special Design Bureau had to make minimal changes to the design of the original ZIL-157, allowing them to carry out the desired checks of the new units. Thus, the new prototype was supposed to repeat the design of the base machine as much as possible, but at the same time carry a certain set of special units. All these tasks were successfully solved, and a car was brought to the test site, which outwardly did not differ much from the base truck. The prototype was given only by some elements of the chassis and layout features.

The prototype was still based on a rectangular frame made of metal profiles. In front of it was the driver's cab, in front of which the engine hood was located. Directly behind the cab, in the former place of the spare wheel, there were a fuel tank and batteries. The rear cargo area of the chassis was given for the installation of a rigid body-van. Experienced ZIL-157E had a non-standard layout. Apparently, the standard power unit was removed from under the hood in front of the cab. The engine and electric transmission elements were now supposed to be in the van. This arrangement simplified the operation and maintenance of the experimental units.

A gasoline-electric power unit based on the ZIL-375 engine was placed in the van. The motor developed a power of up to 180 hp, and its torque was fed directly to the shaft of the GET-120 generator, which produced a direct current with a power of 120 kW. Through the control devices, the current through the cables was fed to the traction motors of the driving wheels. The use of electric power transmission means from the main engine to traction engines made it possible to abandon the existing mechanical transmission. The prototype has lost all driveshafts, transfer case and some other devices. Also, the most noticeable changes were made to the chassis.

In the initial configuration, the ZIL-157 truck had a three-axle chassis with a 6x6 wheel arrangement, built on the basis of axles with dependent suspension. During the construction of a new prototype, the existing front axle, in general, retained its structure. As before, it was suspended from longitudinal leaf springs and had wheel controls. At the same time, the propeller shaft was no longer suitable for it. The wheel formula of the car has changed to 6x4.

The resilient rear drive axles have been removed. Instead, additional power elements were installed on the frame of the electric ship, to which single-sided motor-wheels, borrowed from the 9P116 launcher, were rigidly attached. The wheels of the new design were equipped with DT-22 traction motors and two-stage planetary gearboxes. Electricity was supplied to each engine via a cable extended outside the chassis. Cables emerged from the sides of the van and down to the wheel hubs.

The chassis retained the existing centralized tire pressure regulation system. With its help, the driver could change the pressure in wide-profile tires and thereby change the cross-country characteristics on different surfaces.

The use of a new transmission led to the need for special controls. The steering system of the experimental car remained the same, but other devices were now offered to control the operation of the power plant and transmission. The driver could control the operation of the main gasoline engine, as well as control the parameters of four electric motors. Thus, the number of toggle switches and levers in the cab has increased significantly. Like serial cars, the experimental ZIL-157E did not have an amplifier in the steering system.

There were no special requirements for the cab and body, and therefore the ZIL-157E prototype was equipped with standard serial units. The existing all-metal cabin with three seats, a heater and opening windows was retained. Access to the cockpit was provided by a conventional pair of side doors.

To accommodate the power unit, a closed-type metal van body was used. In its front wall there was a pair of side vertical holes for supplying atmospheric air, which is necessary to improve ventilation and engine cooling. There were also two pairs of windows in the sides and aft doors. Perhaps the van could have seats for engineers who monitored the operation of the gasoline-electric unit.

A relatively simple project of an experimental machine was developed in the shortest possible time, and on June 25, 1964, the workers of the Plant. Likhachev began assembling a prototype. The main units of the machine were manufactured by the ZIL enterprise, and the elements of the electrical equipment came from the factory # 476. The widest use of ready-made components had a positive effect on the timing of the work. Already on July 20 of the same year, an experienced ZIL-157E went to the testing and development base of the Plant named after. Likhachev near the village of Chulkovo in the Ramensky district of the Moscow region. There it was planned to carry out the necessary tests and establish the real characteristics of the prototype.

Unfortunately, most of the information about the tests of the ZIL-157E prototype is unknown. The results of this "auxiliary" project were lost against the background of the ZIL-135E main program. Nevertheless, some data on the inspections of the first truck with an electric transmission survived, while others can be established from individual facts.

From the available information, it follows that the tests of the ZIL-157E on different routes and in different conditions continued for several months. There is reason to believe that the car was tested on highways and dirt roads, as well as on various kinds of off-road. With the onset of cold weather, the prototype was tested on virgin snow. Thus, the chassis based on motor-wheels, which received energy from a gasoline-electric power unit, showed all its characteristics and capabilities in a variety of conditions.


Model ZIL-135E, built on the basis of developments on the topic ZIL-157E

According to reports, the electric ship with the unofficial name ZIL-157E during the tests showed itself not in the best way. Design flaws were identified that interfered with the normal operation of equipment. In addition, some of the features of the existing machine could interfere with obtaining the desired characteristics and capabilities.

Subsequent events show that the very idea of an electric powertrain has paid off. In addition, a bundle in the form of a ZIL-375 gasoline engine, a GET-120 generator and DT-22 traction motors has proven itself well. These units, already tested in previous projects, confirmed their characteristics and were soon used in the construction of new machines. In this case, however, there could be problems with the used wheeled chassis. The three-axle chassis of a serial truck, which received a 6x4 wheel arrangement, simply could not realize the full potential of an electric transmission. The two rear driving axles could not cope with the tasks assigned to them, and there was no front wheel drive. An incomplete drive in a certain way reduced the mobility and permeability of the prototype on rough terrain.

However, there is no exact information about the test results of the ZIL-157E in the context of technology and characteristics. Most of the available sources indicate only that the prototype "did not live up to expectations" - without any clarifications. It is easy to see that with its technical appearance, this machine really could not show characteristics at the level of serial ZIL-135 all-terrain vehicles with a traditional power plant and a mechanical transmission.

Not later than the first months of 1965, the designers of the Special Design Bureau of the Plant. Likhachev analyzed the data collected during recent tests, which allowed them to continue developing a full-fledged all-terrain vehicle. Probably, some of the test results of the ZIL-157E influenced certain features of the technical appearance of the future ZIL-135E. At the same time, some of the already defined features of this car could remain unchanged.

Over the next few months, SKB ZIL, in cooperation with plant No. 476, worked on the further development of the existing electric transmission. The new result of work in this direction was the prototype ZIL-135E. Subsequently, on the basis of proven ideas and solutions, they created another all-terrain vehicle with electric units, which was distinguished by even higher indicators of mobility and maneuverability.

Having passed the necessary tests, the prototype with the unofficial name ZIL-157E was no longer needed by its creators. Its further fate is unknown, but it can be assumed that the car was rebuilt according to one of the existing or prospective projects. An experienced electric ship could be made a prototype as part of a new project or return it to its original configuration of a truck. One way or another, the mock all-terrain vehicle ceased to exist at some point.

The task of the auxiliary project ZIL-157E was to test some ideas and solutions proposed for use in the development of a full-fledged ultra-high cross-country vehicle. During the tests, the prototype built showed both the pros and cons of its design. It allowed collecting the necessary data and improving the main project already under development. Despite its secondary role and not the most outstanding test results, the ZIL-157E electric ship influenced further work and fully coped with the tasks assigned to it.

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