American Trucks in Korea and Vietnam —
For the Other Side

If we do not develop our automobile industry, we are threatened with the heaviest losses, if not defeats, in a future war.      Pravda, July 20, 1927

At the end of World War II the U.S. government appointed an interagency committee to consider the future of the German automobile industry and its war-making potential. This committee concluded that any motor vehicle industry in any country is an important factor in that country's war potential.

More than half U.S. tanks, almost all armored and half-track vehicles and one-third of guns over 33 millimeter were manufactured in U.S. civilian motor vehicle plants.

Consequently, the committee unanimously recommended:

1. Any vehicle industry is a major force for war.

2. German automotive manufacturing should be prohibited because it was a war industry.

3. Numerous military products can be made by the automobile industry, including aerial torpedoes, aircraft cannon, aircraft instruments, aircraft engines, aircraft engines parts, aircraft ignition testers, aircraft machine guns, aircraft propeller subassemblies, aircraft propellers, aircraft servicing and testing equipment, aircraft struts, airframes, and so on. A total of 300 items of military equipment was listed.

A comparison of the recommendations from this committee with subsequent administrative recommendations and policies for the export of automobile-manufacturing plants to the Soviet Union demonstrates extraordinary inconsistencies. If automobile-manufacturing capacity has "warlike" potential for Germany and the United States, then it also has "warlike" potential for the Soviet Union. But the recommendations for post-war Germany and the Soviet Union are totally divergent. Some of the same Washington bureaucrats (for example, Charles R. Weaver of the Department of Commerce) participated in making both decisions.

In brief, any automobile or tractor plant can be used to produce tanks, armored cars, military trucks, other military vehicles and equipment. A major conclusion reached by a U.S. interagency committee formed to study the war-making potential of the U.S. and German automotive industries was that a motor vehicle industry has enormous military potential.

"The Committee recognized without dissent that [Germany's] motor vehicle industry was an important factor in her waging of war during World War II."

On the basis of its findings, the committee recommended that the manufacture of complete automobiles in Germany be prohibited, that the manufacture of certain parts and subassemblies be "specifically prohibited," and that Germany "should not be permitted to retain in her possession any types of vehicles or particular military application, such as track-laying vehicles, multi-axle vehicles, etc."

The committee further listed more than 300 "war products manufactured by the automotive industry."

These conclusions have been ignored for the Soviet automobile industry, even while the Soviets themselves officially stated their intention to use foreign automobile technology for military vehicles as early as 1927. V. V. Ossinsky, a top planner, wrote a series of articles for Pravda (July 20, 21 and 22, 1927) with the following warning:

If in a future war we use the Russian peasant cart against the American or European automobile, the result to say the least will be disproportionately heavy losses, the inevitable consequences of technical weakness. This is certainly not industrialized defense.

The Soviet military-civilian vehicle manufacturing industry, as subsequently developed, produces a limited range of utilitarian trucks and automobiles in a few large plants designed, built by, and almost entirely equipped with Western, primarily American, technical assistance and machinery. These motor vehicle plants mostly manufacture their own components and ship these to assembly plants elsewhere in the Soviet Union.

There is a high degree of integration between Russian military and civilian vehicle models. Military and civilian vehicles have interchangeable parts and Soviet policy is to maximize unification of military and civilian designs to assist model change-over in case of war.

This unification of military and civilian automobile design has been described by the Soviet economist A. N. Lagovskiy:

The fewer design changes between the old and the new type of product, the easier and more rapidly the enterprise will shift to new production. If, for example, chassis, motors, and other parts of a motor vehicle of a civilian model are used for a military motor vehicle, or course, the shift to the mass production of the military motor vehicle will occur considerably faster and more easily than if the design of all the main parts were different.

Lagovskiy notes that Soviet "civilian" agricultural tractors and motor vehicles can be used directly as military vehicles without major conversion. Soviet tractors (direct copies of Caterpillar models) were used as artillery tractors in World War II and Korea. General G. I. Pokrovski makes a similar argument about the U.S. 106-millimeter recoilless weapon mounted on a Willys jeep and comments that "even relatively powerful recoilless artillery systems can, at the present time, be mounted on a light automobile without reducing the number of men accomodated."11

Almost all — possibly 95 percent — of Soviet military vehicles are produced in very large plants designed by American engineers in the 1930s through the 1970s.

The Soviet Military Truck Industry

Soviet civilian and military trucks are produced in the same plants and have extensive interchangeability of parts and components. For example, the ZIL-131 was the main 31/2-ton 6x6 Soviet military truck used in Vietnam and Afghanistan and is produced also in a civilian 4 x 2 version as the ZIL-130. Over 60 percent of the parts in the ZIL-131 military truck are common to the ZIL-130 civilian truck.

All Soviet truck technology and a large part of Soviet truck-manufacturing equipment has come from the West, mainly from the United States. While some elementary transfers-lines and individual machines for vehicle production are made in the Soviet Union, these are copies of Western machines and always obsolete in design.

Many major American companies have been prominent in building up the Soviet truck industry. The Ford Motor Company, the A. J. Brandt Company, the Austin Company, General Electric, Swindell-Dressier, and others supplied the technical assistance, design work, and equipment of the original giant plants.

This Soviet military-civilian truck industry originally comprised two main groups of plants, plus five newer giant plants. The first group used models, technical assistance, and parts and components from the Ford-built Gorki automobile plant (GAZ is the model designation). The second group of production plants used models, parts, and components from the A. J. Brandt-rebuilt ZIL plant in Moscow (Zavod imeni Likhachev, formerly the AMO and later the Stalin plant). Consequently this plant was called the BBH-ZIL plant after the three companies involved in its reconstruction and expansion in the 1930s: A. J. Brandt, Budd, and Hamilton Foundry.

There is a fundamental difference between the Ford and Brandt companies. Brandt had only one contract in the USSR, to rebuild the old AMO plant in 1929. AMO in 1930 had a production of 30,000 trucks per year, compared to the Gorki plant, designed from scratch by Ford for an output of 140,000 vehicles per year. Ford is still interested in Russian business. Brandt is not interested and has not been since 1930.

The Ford-Gorki group of assembly plants includes the plants at Ulyanovsk (model designation UAZ), Odessa (model designation OAZ), and Pavlovo (model designation PAZ). The BBH-ZIL group includes the truck plants at Mytischiy (MMZ model designation), Miass (or URAL Zis), Dnepropetrovsk (model designation DAZ), Kutaisi (KAZ model), and Lvov (LAZ model). Besides these main groups there are also five independent plants. The Minsk truck plant (MAZ) was built with German assistance. The Hercules-Yaroslavl truck plant (YaAz) was built by the Hercules Motor Company. The MZMA plant in Moscow, which manufactures small automobiles, was also built by Ford Motor Company.

In the late 1960s came the so-called Fiat-Togliatti auto plant. Three-quarters of this equipment came from the United States. Then in 1972 the U.S. government issued $1 billion in licenses to export equipment and technical assistance for the Kama truck plant. Planned as the largest truck plant in the world, it covers 36 square miles and produces more heavy trucks, including military trucks, than the output of all U.S. heavy truck manufacturers combined. (Togliatti and Kama are described in Chapter Three below.)

This comprises the complete Soviet vehicle manufacturing industry — all built with Western, primarily American, technical assistance and technology. Military models are produced in these plants utilizing the same components as the civilian models. The two main vehicle production centers, Gorki and ZIL, manufacture more than two-thirds of all Soviet civilian vehicles (excluding the new Togliatti and Kama plants) and almost all current military vehicles.

The Ford Gorki "Automobile" Plant

In May 1929 the Soviets signed an agreement with the Ford Motor Company of Detroit. The Soviets agreed to purchase $13 million worth of automobiles and parts and Ford agreed to give technical assistance until 1938 to construct an integrated automobile-manufacturing plant at Nizhni-Novgorod. Construction was completed in 1933 by the Austin Company for production of the Ford Model-A passenger car and light truck. Today this plant is known as Gorki. With its original equipment supplemented by imports and domestic copies of imported equipment, Gorki produces the GAZ range of automobiles, trucks, and military vehicles. All Soviet vehicles with the model prefix GAZ (Gorki Avtomobilnyi Zavod) are from Gorki, and models with prefixes UAX, OdAZ, and PAZ are made from Gorki components.

In 1930 Gorki produced the Ford Model-A (known as GAZ-A) and the Ford light truck (called GAZ-AA). Both these Ford models were immediately adopted for military use. By the late 1930s production at Gorki was 80,000-90,000 "Russian Ford" vehicles per year.

The engine production facilities at Gorki were designed under a technical assistance agreement with the Brown Lipe Gear Company for gear-cutting technology and Timken-Detroit Axle Company for rear and front axles.

Furthermore, U.S. equipment has been shipped in substantial quantifies to Gorki and subsidiary plants since the 1930s — indeed some shipments were made from the United States in 1968 during the Vietnamese War.

As soon as Ford's engineers left Gorki in 1930 the Soviets began production of military vehicles. The Soviet BA armored car of the 1930s was the GAZ-A (Ford Model-A) chassis, intended for passenger cars, but converted to an armored car with the addition of a DT machine gun. The BA was followed by the BA-10 — the Ford Model-A truck chassis with a mount containing either a 37-millimeter gun or a 12.7-millimeter heavy machine gun. A Red Army staff car was also based on the Ford Model-A in the pre-war period.

During World War II Gorki produced the GAZ-60 — a hybrid half-track personnel carrier that combined the GAZ-63 chassis. In the late 1940s the plant switched to production of an amphibious carrier — The GAZ-46. This was a standard GAZ-69 chassis with a U.S. quarter-ton amphibious body.

In the mid-1950s Gorki produced the GAZ-47 armored amphibious cargo carrier with space for nine men. Its engine was the GAZ-61, a 74-horsepower Ford-type 6-cylinder in-line gasoline engine — the basic Gorki engine.

In the 1960s and 1970s production continued with an improved version of the BAZ-47 armored cargo carrier, using a GAZ-53 V-8 type engine developing 115 horsepower.

In brief, the Ford-Gorki plant has a continuous history of production of armored cars and wheeled vehicles for Soviet army use: those used against the United States in Korea and Vietnam.

In addition to armored cars, the Ford-Gorki factory manufactures a range of truck-mounted weapons. This series began in the early thirties with a 76.2-millimeter field howitzer mounted on the Ford-GAZ Model-A truck. Two similar weapons from Gorki before World War II were a twin 25-millimeter antiaircraft machine gun and a quad 7.62-millimeter Maxim antiaircraft machine gun — also mounted on the Ford-GAZ truck chassis.

During World War II Gorki produced several rocket-launchers mounted on trucks. First the 12-rail, 300-millimeter launcher; then, from 1944 onwards, the M-8, M-13, and M-31 rocket-launchers mounted on GAZo63 trucks. (The GAZ-63 is an obvious direct copy of the U.S. Army's 21/2-ton truck.) Also during World War II Gorki produced the GAZ-203, 85-horsepower engine for the SU-76 self-propelled gun produced at Uralmashzavod. (Uralmash was designed and equipped by American and German companies.)

After World War II Gorki production of rocket-launchers continued with the BM-31, which had twelve 300-millimeter tubes mounted on a GAZ-63 truck chassis. In the late 1950s another model was produced with twelve 140-millimeter tubes on a GAZ-63 truck chassis. In the 1960s yet another model with eight 140-millimeter tube was produced on a GAZ-63 chassis.

Finally, in 1964 Gorki produced the first Soviet wire-guided missile antitank system. This consisted of four rocket-launchers mounted on a GAZ-69 chassis. These weapons turned up in Israel in the late 1960s. The GAZ-69 chassis produced at Gorki is also widely used in the Soviet Army as a command vehicle and scout car. Soviet airborne troops use it as a tow for the 57-millimeter antitank gun and the 14.5-millimeter double-barrelled antiaircraft gun. Other Gorki vehicles used by the Soviet military include the GAZ-69 truck, used for towing the 107-millimeter recoilless rifle (RP-107), the GAZ-46, or Soviet jeep, and the GAZ-54, a 1 1/2-ton military cargo truck.

In brief, the Gorki plant, built by the Ford Motor Company the Austin Company and modernized by numerous other U.S. companies under the policy of "peaceful trade," is today a major producer of Soviet army vehicles and weapons carriers.

The A. J. Brandt-ZIL Plant

A technical assistance agreement was concluded in 1929 with the Arthur J. Brandt Company of Detroit for the reorganization and expansion of the tsarist AMO truck plant, previously equipped in 1917 with new U.S. equipment. Design work for this expansion was handled in Brandt's Detroit office and plant and American engineers were sent to Russia.

The AMO plant was again expanded in 1936 by the Budd Company and Hamilton Foundry and its name was changed to ZIS (now ZIL). During World War II the original equipment was removed to establish the URALS plant and the ZIS plant was re-established with Lend-Lease equipment.

The first armored vehicle produced at AMO was an adaptation of the civilian ZIL-6 truck produced after the Brandt reorganization in 1930. This vehicle was converted into a mount for several self-propelled weapons, including the single 76.2-millimeter antiaircraft gun and the 76.2-millimeter antitank gun.

In World War II the ZIL-6 was adapted for the 85-millimeter antitank and antiaircraft guns, quadruple 7.62 Maxims, and several self-propelled rocket-launchers, including the M-8 36-rail, 80-millimeter, and the Katyusha model M-13/A 16-rail, 130-millimeter rocket-launcher.

In the immediate postwar period the ZIL-150 truck chassis was used as a mount for the model M-13 rocket-launcher and the ZIL-151 truck was used as a mount for the M-31 rocket-launcher. In addition, the ZIL-151 truck was used as a prime mover for the 82-millimeter gun.

In 1953 the ZIL-151 truck was adapted for several other weapons, including the BM-24, 240-millimeter, 12-tube rocket-launcher; the RM-131-millimeter, 32-tube rocket-launcher; the BM-14, 140-millimeter, 16-tube rocket-launcher, and the 200-millimeter, 4-tube rocket-launcher.

In the 1960s the ZIL-157 truck became a mount for the GOA-SA-2 antiaircraft missile, and a prime mover for another rocket system.

The ZIL plant has also produced unarmored cargo and troop vehicles for the Soviet Army. In 1932 the ZIL-33 was developed; an unarmored half-track used as a troop carrier. In 1936 the ZIL-6 was developed as a half-track and during World War II the ZIL-42 was developed as a 21/2-ton tracked weapons carrier. In the postwar period the ZIL-151 truck chassis was adapted for the BTR-152 armored troop carrier. In the 1950s the ZIL-485 was developed; a replica of the American DUKW mounted on a ZIL-151 truck, and followed by an improved DUKW mounted on a ZIL-157 truck.

From 1954 onwards new versions of the BTR-152 were added, based on the ZIL-157 truck. In the 1960s a new BTR-60 (8 x 8) amphibious personnel carrier was developed with a ZIL-375 gasoline engine.

Other ZIL vehicles are also used for military purposes. For example the ZIL-111 is used as a radar and computer truck for antiaircraft systems and as a tow for the M-38 short 122-millimeter howitzer The ZIL-111 is copied from Studebaker 6 x 6 trucks supplied under Lend-Lease.

There is a great deal of interchangeability between the military and civilian versions of the ZIL family of vehicles. For example, an article in Ordnance states:

In the 1940s the ZIL-151, a 21/2-ton 6 x 6 was the work horse of the Soviet Army. It was replaced in the 1950s by the ZIL-157, an apparent product improved version. In the 1960s, however, this vehicle class requirement was met by the ZIL-131, a 31/2-ton 6 x 6 vehicle, essentially a military design. It is of interest to note that a civilian version was marketed as the ZIL-130 in a 4 x 2 configuration. Over 60 percent of the components in the military version are common to the civilian vehicle.

Thus the ZIL plant, originally designed and rebuilt under the supervision of the A. J. Brandt Company of Detroit in 1930 and equipped by other American companies, was again expanded by Budd and Hamilton Foundry in 19;36. Rebuilt with Lend-Lease equipment and periodically updated with late model imports, ZIL has had a long and continuous history of producing Soviet military cargo trucks and weapons carriers.

On April 19, 1972, the U.S. Navy photographed a Russian freighter bound for Haiphong with a full load of military cargo, including a deck load of ZIL-130 cargo trucks and ZIL-555 dump trucks (Human Events, May 13, 1972). Thus the "peaceful trade" of the 1930s, the 1940s, the 1950s, 1960s and the 1970s was used to kill Americans in Vietnam, and commit genocide in Afghanistan.

The original 1930 equipment was removed from ZIL in 1944 and used to build the Miass plant. It was replaced by Lend-Lease equipment, was supplemented by equipment imports in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

The Urals plant at Miass (known as Urals ZIS or ZIL) was built in 1944 and largely tooled with equipment evacauted form the Moscow ZIL plant. The Urals Miass plant started production with the Urals-5 light truck, utilizing an engine with the specifications of the 1920 Fordson (original Ford Motor Company equipment supplied in the late 1920s was used, supplemented by Lend-Lease equipment). The Urals plant today produces weapons models: for example, a prime mover for guns, including the long-range 130-millimeter cannon, and two versions — tracked and wheeled — of a 12-ton prime mover.

Possibly there may have been doubt as to Soviet end-use of truck plants back in the 20s and ;30s, but the above information certainly was known to Washington at least by the mid 1960s when this author's first volume was published. The next chapter presents official Washington's suicidal reaction to this information, under pressure from the deaf mute blindmen.



*The report is Study by Interagency Committee on the Treatment of the German Automotive Industry the Standpoint of National Security (Washington, D.C.: Foreign Economic Administration, July 14, 1945), Report T.I.D.C. No. 12.

11G. I. Pokrovski, Science and Technology in Contemporary War (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1959), p. 122.