Good afternoon, Hoons and Hoonettes.
I’ve always been very fond of the vehicles that the Soviets and Russians have used to transport their share of world-destroying nuclear ICBMs. They are all so single purpose designed and over the top, and unlike anything else.
While I was out rooting around for some kind of truck to use for this “Truck Thursday” theme that is evidently used here, I came across the magnificent beast that you see in the photo above: the MAZ 7907. As far as I can determine, it is the only 12 axle 24-wheel drive vehicle ever made, and there are only two of them. Well, maybe only one, now.
The 7907 was designed and built in 1985 by the Minsk Automobile Plant (“Minsky Avtomobilny Zavod”) located in Belarus. It was originally intended to be a millipede launcher chassis for the mobile ground missile complex for the “Tsellina -2” missile. Its 12 axles are driven by a 1250 hp gas turbine that is normally used in a tank. The chassis is 28.1 meters (92.2 feet) long, 4.1 meters (13.5 feet) wide, 4.4 meters (14.4 feet) high, and has a ground clearance of 2 meters (6.6 feet). It has an articulated frame and uses an electric (electronic?) transmission to pass power to the 24 steerable wheels. The 7907 weighs in at 65,800 kg (72.5 tons) and has a load capacity of 150,000 kg (165.4 tons).
The 7907 is far too large to be driving around on civilian highways, so when testing was to begin 1000 km away, both of the 7907s were dismantled, shipped by train to Volgograd, and reassembled for the missile launches. When that was done, they were torn down again, packed on a train and shipped to a military base at Tver (not sure about the name) where they waited for the results from a comparative test with its predecessor, the MAZ 7906 (another fabulous machine).
The 7907 won the competition, evidently in part because of its portability by rail. Go figure.
The program ended up being cancelled, and the 7907s were shipped back to the factory and an uncertain future. 10 years went by…
In 1996, two Belarus businessmen bought a rather large ship (40 meters long and 88 tons) that they planned on turning into a restaurant (I think). They had a big problem though: the ship was located in the waters of the Beresina river, and they needed it to be in the waters of Lake Naroch, near the resort of Belarus (I think). None of the rolling stock that existed in the Republic at that time had the capacity to carry their ship. Somehow or another, they came up with the idea of using the 7907 to haul the ship, also using a MWTP-79222 (the vehicle that carries the Topol-M missile) as some sort of tractor.
The translation of the Russian article is really hard to understand at this point, so I’ll show you some pictures of what was going on instead:
The 7907 hauled the ship at a blistering 5 km/h for the 200 km journey which took 4 days. When it arrived at the lake, the driver evidently drove the 7907 into the lake, floated the ship free, and drove back out (not really clear here). The unscheduled immersion didn’t hurt the vehicle, being built to military specs, but on the drive back, the electric transmission died and the 7907 had to be towed back to the factory.
Both of the 7907s are still at the MAZ factory, with one unit being cannibalized to keep the other running. A rather ignoble end for such a cool machine.
Note: Just about all of the information I used in this article came from two Russian language websites, and I used Google to get an English translation. It wasn’t always exactly clear what the actual meaning of the Russian text was, so in places I more or less guessed. If you can read Russian and find that I’ve made errors, please let me know and I’ll do my best to correct them.
Launch katerovoz – Picture news website (my best guess at the name)
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